What Features Do You Need On a Hot Dog Cart?
Because in most states you can only serve non potentially hazardous foods you will want to make sure the features you want to add will serve you well. There is no reason to have a deep fryer if your state doesn’t allow you to deep fry anything. Most of us want all the fancy features on a cart, griddles, grills, popcorn machines, deep fryers and such, but the reality is that most states won’t allow it. The one thing I have found that makes a cart stand out and it draws people like flies – a grill. thehypercart A griddle or a grill, snap and pop as they cook, they send off smoke signals notifying anyone within sight to come hither. They create smells that are irresistible. At that same flea market I shared with you earlier, I was made to move my cart away from the building to another section because the smell of my grilled onions were sneaking inside grabbing the people by the noses and leading them away from the inside vendors. They complained and after the first week, I was asked to move my cart.
If your state allows a grill or griddle, then I suggest you get a cart with one. You can even add one later if you can’t afford one now or if you found a used cart that doesn’t have one.
About 2 years ago, we performed a test to see how a cart with a sink would do compared to a cart without one. I was of the mind set that it didn’t matter. Why would a customer give a rat’s ass. So my best friend Keith bet me. We took two carts to an event that we had already booked. We set up for about 3 hours. When the crowds left the entertainment arena and started flocking to vendors lining the street, the very first customer came to my cart, I knew it was in the bag. But within minutes a line had formed at both our carts, Keith’s line had noticeably more people. When the event ended, I had served 71 people, Keith had served 206. Same carts, same menu, same prices and his cart with the sinks and water system did much better.
I can only speculate that a cart with sinks must appear cleaner to a customer. Although, I had a bucket of bleach water and kept my cart clean. There are a few states that don’t require a water system and sinks on a cart. Tennessee is one of these.
So I must admit, Keith’s hypothesis that customers prefer a cart with sinks over one without, is valid.
Most states allow a cooler on a cart instead of a fridge. I still get requests for a fridge on a cart, but I want to tell you the honest truth; they suck.
The time it takes for a LP gas or a DC fridge to reach a compliant temperature can be as long as 24 hours. This would mean that you must keep that fridge plugged into a battery or to an LP tank 24 hours a day. If DC powered, you would need to constantly worry and struggle to keep the batteries charged. If you buy one that uses AC power, then you need to have an extension cord handy. This limits your ability to move, limits where you set up and presents a hazard to the pedestrians.
They also don’t hold much food, most are 2.3 cubic feet and still require you to keep some coolers on hand. Most fridge units are not approved for commercial use, typically only the real large ones that are found in restaurants. If you choose to use one of these, your cart will be huge and cumbersome. They simply don’t make sense. If you are required to get one, verify the inspector is correct. I have many carts in Washington state, but I have one customer that was told he must have a fridge on the cart. Instead of going over the inspectors head, he ordered a custom cart with an approved fridge that ended up costing him much more contrary to my pleas.
Don’t get me wrong, they do make some refrigerators that will function as you would like, but these are generally very expensive. A small apartment or dorm size fridge will work much better but these operate on AC power and if on a cart must be used with a DC inverter, another expense and again the pain of keeping your batteries charged.