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Thursday, July 2, 2009


Got an email today. It wasn't what I expected and has me wondering what to do. Before I tell you what it said, I'll give you some back story.

I spent 7 years with the same company and followed them down from Dallas to Austin back in 2003. I left in 2007 because I wasn't going anywhere in the company. I found another job and thought it was the company I would retire at. Unfortunately, there was an issue (that was made up by the company) and they let me go in June of 2008.

I was unemployed until October of 2008 and was offered a job. I took the job and was not happy with it, but kept going and doing my work. I found another job in February 2009 and had a phone interview. The moron I had the phone interview with called the current employer and they fired me 2 days later. They also made up a lie about why I was fired and the TWC didn't believe them.

Now I am unemployed again and can't find a single job in the Austin area. I apply for pretty much everything and no one is calling or emailing. During this time is when I get the bright idea to open a hot dog cart (April 2009). I spend months working on this and we are only a couple weeks out from opening the cart and then this happens.....

Today I checked my email and was asked to fill out an application for a job and come by next week for an interview. This job is REALLY good and should pay really good! I sent my resume for this job months ago and not sure why they are just now sending me this email. I had thought they filled the position, but I guess they didn't.

So my issue now is, what do I do? My wife thinks I should take the job and just run the cart part time. I feel like this is a big investment for us and only doing it part time is a waste. The other option is to not take the job and just do the cart. I don't have the job yet, but am planning like I will get it.

I feel conflicted. If they offer me a lot of money, then I can't pass it up. The money would be guaranteed and hot dog money isn't. I really love the hot dog business and that is what I want to do with my life. Not just run a cart, but own and operate my own concession business. I want to do more than just hot dogs and do it all over the state of Texas.

So I guess we have to wait until next week to see what happens. It is possible that they won't like me and won't hire me, but I have a feeling that they are going to offer me the job. My other option in all of this is to hire someone to run the cart during the week while I work. That might be a good choice, but finding someone responsible enough is nearly impossible in this town.

Still don't have my food costs nailed down. Waiting to find out if we can renegotiate and get the prices lower. I have to get my margins up to 50% - 70% to ever make it in the business. I can't sell a hot dog for $2.50 and spend $1.75 in food costs. That would give me a $.75 profit and would have to sell 400 to 500 hot dogs a day...and that probably isn't going to happen. If I can sell a hot dog for $2.50 and spend $1.25 or less, then I won't have to sell as many. I know that carrying Vienna Beef will cost me more than Nathans or Sabrette products, but Vienna has a better product and I want to serve the best.

Nothing else going on right now. Still trying to nail down my insurance. It is hard because my business is technically a restaurant, but I am serving from a cart. There isn't anyone local that really knows what to do or offer me in the way of insurance. Will have to head into Austin to get it figured out.

Making some brisket for our little 4th of July party. The people eating it have never tried my brisket and are really looking forward to it. Trying a new twist to my existing recipe and if it works, then we will sell these from the cart this fall. It takes a long time to make the brisket, but is worth the trouble and the $3.50+ per sandwich that I can charge for chopped beef. I am also making a batch of my sauce. Gonna keep some extra this time so others can try it. Will also have it on the cart with the sandwiches.


  1. Do the cart! Hire YOURSELF!


  2. I say wait and see what the job offer brings. If they don't make you an offer, it's moot. If they do, my advice is to grab it and then start off the hot dog thing part time. Self-employment is great... if you can make it work. But the lack of benefits and higher taxes can kill a startup almost as soon as it starts. You should be able to tell pretty quick whether or not the cart has the potential to get huge or not.
    In the meantime, if you get more secure work, grab it. And if it pays really well, try and save a large chunk of you pay and live as if you were just getting by on the cart. Then, one day, you might find that you have a big chunk of savings that let's you go ahead and go all in on the cart!