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Friday, November 5, 2010

Last Post

Due to "Family Issues", we are closing the hot dog business.  Thanks to all who have supported us, we appreciate it more than you know.

I loved getting into the business and will probably be back.  Because of my illness and other issues, we just decided to stop.  We will see what the future holds for this, but we will be selling everything and stopping immediately.

Now, we aren't leaving Bastrop.....not yet.  I have started a Process Service and Skip Tracing business.  I got into this while helping our lawyer look for a couple of people.  Hopefully this will take off and everything will be fine.

You can check out my new business @ www.tcbcivil.com


Thanks again to everyone!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Where did you go?

Had a lot of people ask what has been going on with us.  Here is the official word from me:

Back in March, we were working on getting the Austin locations up and going.  I went to see my grandmother for Easter and found out that she has cancer.  When we came back, I had to work on the van that we were going to haul the cart with.  That ended up taking a lot more time than it should, but working on vans is really a pain.  During that time, I was pretty upset about my grandmother.  She means the world to me and I had a hard time dealing with all that was going on.

Once I got the van done, it was already towards the middle of May.  I knew that school was ending soon, so our Austin locations could wait.  I continue to operate the Bastrop location on the weekends, since during the week was pretty much a bust. 

At the end of May, I got really sick and had to be taken to the hospital.  Of course, the doctors had ZERO idea what was wrong and tried to tell me it was all kinds of things.  I just figured it was food poisoning (from a local place, not from my hot dogs!) and it would go away.  Well, it didn't.

Still feeling ill, we closed the Bastrop location until I could get back on my feet.  Did a catering job in June, worked the July 3rd event in Bastrop, and opening one Saturday in August. 

In August is when I finally was given the go ahead to see a GI specialist.  I had seen my regular doctor and was referred over to the GI doctor in Austin.  The doctor went over all my test results and diagnosed me with a form of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)/ Spastic Colon.  Basically, my stomach muscles/intestines cramp up like when you get a cramp in your leg.  I also get varying degrees of nausea.  So the doctor puts me on medicine to help my symptoms.  Unfortunately, the medicine has a bad side effect/warning......causes dry mouth / if you get overheated, it will cause severe dehydration.  That means, no standing by a hot dog cart for 4+ hours a day or risk going back to the hospital.

So after this, I really started wondering if this was worth it or not.  Do I continue and take a chance or just sell it all and find something else to do?  Well, I did one and not the other.  No, I didn't sell my business but I did find something else.  That something else won't interfere with the hot dog business and allows me to have another income stream.  That something else is doing Skip Tracing and Process Serving for civil accounts (i.e. Doctors, Lawyers, and etc).  I can do these during the mornings and evenings and it won't interfere with the hot dogs.

I sat down and decided that the hot dogs must come back.  But this time, we are taking it slow and not rushing into anything.  I feel like there was too much pressure on me the first time and then everything kind of fell apart.  I am dedicated to making this work and making a living doing it.  I really wanted to make everything work the first time, but had spread my self way too thin.  I was so worried about making everyone happy and I wasn't really having fun anymore.

So, we are coming back on October 9th.  I will only have the Downtown Bastrop location open on Saturdays for the time being.  Since the weather is much cooler, I don't run as much risk in getting sick.  I am working on a second location in Bastrop that will run during the week.  We are also going to try and do some other special events in the area. 

I am also working on changing up the menu.  It will probably be the same for now, but should be fixed up by Halloween.  I am going to do something other than hot dogs and I think people will like it.  It gives customers another option and will hopefully boost our income.

We are also announcing that a deal was setup with Square (www.squareup.com) and we will be taking credit cards.  Yes, we will be taking credit cards....all four types.  Now, the menu prices will be different for credit cards.  We will give a discount for cash customers and credit card customers will pay the normal price.  Would love to let everyone pay the same, but it is easier to deal with cash than credit cards.

Oh yeah, my grandmother is still taking her chemo and is doing much better.  We are planning another trip to see her and can't wait to spend time with her.

I also need to address the flower/antique shop questions.  We closed the flower shop for day to day operations because the economy.  People aren't spending the money on flowers anymore.  We can still do special events, but that is all.  The antiques are eventually leaving the building.  That is another business that pretty much gets killed during bad economic times.  I don't know when this is going to happen.  Sorry.

So now the big question.....what are you doing with the building?  Nothing for right now.  We have some options that are being explored, but nothing I can talk about....so don't ask!  When the time is right, then everyone will know.


So that, in a nutshell, is what has been going on.  I am feeling better most days, but still have off days.  I hope to have Bastrop going strong soon and then slowly expand into Austin.  We will have to wait and see.


A special thank you to my family and friends.  They have been by my side during all of this and have encouraged me to get back to sell those delicious Vienna Beef hot dogs.  Without their help, not sure that any of this would ever be possible.  Thank you!


And I expect to see everyone on Halloween.  We will be open on the 31st from 5pm to 10pm.  Make sure you come by and visit us, even if you don't buy a hot dog!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Long overdue post

Very long overdue post.....

I've been really sick for 2 months now.  Sick enough that I can't stand out in the heat for hours at a time or move equipment around.  So that is why we have not been open.  Working on getting better, but it is a slow process.


Starting another business venture, but it won't take any time away from the hot dog carts.  I am in the design faze right now and will be moving forward soon.  I will post info here once we have everything locked down.


Restaurant is still a go for later this year.  Will just have to see how everything plays out with all the other things I am involved with.  Could have to wait until next spring, but we will have to see.


Nothing else going on.  Will post a better update once I am feeling better.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Short but long awaited update....

Sorry that there hasn't been an update for a while.  Been pretty busy.

We are closed in Bastrop until Saturday.  Trying to get the Austin location up and running again...except that the van is still broke down.  Will be open for Bastrop Yesterfest and then we will wait and see what happens from there.  Everything depends on how busy the Austin location is. 

Speaking of Austin.....We did get our other spot approved.  Now we just have to modify my existing cart so that it meet regulations.  Then we have to get it inspected several times by several different departments.  Then we can set an opening date.  Lots of hard work!

Have another project coming up.  Working with someone on it now, but not saying anything just yet.  The new project will be in Bastrop and would replace the existing business.  Sure hope we can make it work.

Like I said before, the van is broke down.  It was running fine until Saturday before last.  Now it won't start.  Trying to find someone to help me remove the gas tank so I can replace the fuel pump.  If I can get that and the tow hitch installed, then we will be back up and running.  One can only hope!

Still working on doing a video blog instead of writing it.  Have to find the time to make it happen.  I have spent the better part of two weeks working on the van, so I am too tired to shoot any video at the end of the day.........but in the future.....

I am starting another blog about the restaurant business and the food blog business.  I plan on interviewing people and shooting video of the interview for the blog.  Since I will have Sunday and Monday off, that should give me enough time to actually work on the blog.  Will have to wait and see.

Getting back to the van.  Will try to post another update soon.  I promise!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Updates on our expansion(s).........

Well, our first Austin expansion should be up in the next couple of weeks.  We are shooting for March 8th as our first day.  Will be working the cart for that week and during Spring Break/SXSW.  After that, we will have an employee(s) that will run the cart.  Still working out the details, but those should be finalized in the next couple of days.

Will be going to Austin on Monday morning to apply for our second location.  We have to wait 10 days to see if the neighboring property owner is going to complain or not.  If so, we will be sunk and out $150.  If not, then we will have 35 days to get our big cart modified, inspected, and a $400 fee paid.  It is crazy.  Guess that is the price you pay to have a great spot on public property.

We do have a couple of private property locations that should be available soon.  Have to wait and see how everything else turns out.  I would love to have multiple locations around town.

We have even talked about being at one of the food trailer parks in Austin.  I have a great concept and it would be perfect for running out of a trailer.  This might actually happen sometime soon.  I have a friend that wants to buy a trailer to stay in on the weekends (while he works in Austin) and I said that we could rent the rest of the trailer and sell food.  Will have to see if we can work out the details.

Since we aren't holding ourselves to just hot dogs at our Austin locations, we have a name and logo just for those locations.  Here is the name and logo:

 
 We did this to keep from being pegged as just another hot dog cart and to impress upon our customers that we can get them their food as quick as possible.  How quick?  Since we are mostly going to be self service, most customers should be serviced within 60 - 90 seconds.  Sounds too quick, but it really isn't.  If all you do is hand someone packets and a dog, then it shouldn't take very long.

The Austin menu will be a streamlined version of what we do in Bastrop.  I haven't released the Austin menu yet, because we are still finalizing everything.  We are going to be focused on less specialty hot dogs and more about quality food and quick service.  When you deal with busy people in the daytime and drunk people at night, time is VERY important.

Updated the website to reflect the changes.  I still need to work on it and should have it done in the next few days.  www.franksrocks.com

Things are changing at our Bastrop location also.  We are going to look at some other equipment tomorrow.  If we do buy this equipment, then we will be working on adding several new menu items and will probably be changing the name also.  I like the name we have now, but will need to have a name that focuses on what we are doing as a whole.  How does "Frank's Rock and Roll Deli" sound?

Was closed last week because I had a root canal and ended up having some issues.  It is hard enough to sell hot dogs when it is cold, let alone when your mouth hurts really bad.

They are calling for cold and rain on Tuesday, so that will give me a day at home to finalize some things.  I don't mind having an extra day off, but would rather make some money instead.

Still working on finding some time to do a video blog post.  One of these days, I will find the time.  For now, you will just have to read what I right.  Sorry.

Everyone have a great week and come see us sometime!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Changes….

Changed prices tonight.  Had to raise all the prices.  Costs are going up and I have to make sure that we aren’t losing money.  I hated to do it, but really didn’t have a choice.  I could carry a cheaper hot dog, but would rather charge a little more for a much better product.  Will have to wait and see what the customers think.  Could backfire on me, but I think that most people will understand and be fine with it. 

Still working on Austin.  Have a meeting on Wednesday with the city.  Will find out about the additional spot that I found.  Hopefully it will work and we can get it.

We are (I say “We”, but I really mean my business partner Josh) adding a grill to the new cart.  Will have to find out exactly what we can do with it.  I really want to do something with Polish Sausage and have an idea, but will have to figure out the costs.  We will have other options with the grill and I am excited to try a few different things that we aren’t currently doing.

Will find out on Wednesday if we can use my current propane cart in Austin.  It is actually too big, according to the cities specs, but might be able to get a variance on part of it.  If they will give me 6”, then we can remove part of the trailer (tongue) and make it detachable.  The reason for the size limitation is that they don’t want you in another vendors space…..but vendors can’t be right next to each other.  Who knows. 

I did find a wonderful cart up in the Dallas area.  It is all enclosed and is pretty much perfect.  If my propane cart can’t get a variance, I will sell it and then go buy this other one.  The other issue is that I will have to see if Austin will approve that one also.  Hope that we can get one of them approved.

 

On a personal note, I am considering a run for city council in Bastrop.  I have been thinking about it for 4 years now and this might be the year to do it.  I am waiting to see who is running before I turn in my paperwork.  Will also need to find someone that can help with my campaign.  I think that being a business owner and meeting tons of people in my 5 years here, will help me with the election.  I really want to help this town become the best it can be and being on city council will give me a little power to make change.

 

Will be open the rest of the week, rain or shine.  Hope to make some new customers and continue to get my regulars in.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Name has been changed to .......

Changed the blog name.  I just like it better.  Plus, my business is not all going to be about hot dogs.  We are exploring other opportunities in the mobile food world.  I will still sell hot dogs, but might be selling a lot more than that.  Plus, this blog is about me and not necessarily just my hot dog cart.

Have been tempted to change my blog over to Wordpress.  Figured out that half of the features that Blogspot has, Wordpress charges for.  Guess we are staying here for a while.

Closed today because of the weather.  Not wanting to brave the 40 degree temps and rain.  Heat is still an issue in the building and probably won't get fixed until sometime in the late summer.


We are expanding the business into Austin....and I don't mean "sometime in the future".  We have a new cart and spot in Downtown Austin.  Will be working on all the logistics of it this week and next.  We hope to open sometime after Valentine's Day.  I wanted to open before, but will need to help the wife at her flower shop.  I will post updates once we have a date set.  *(By "We", I mean my business partner and I )

I will be working this downtown spot, once we open.  I plan on only working it for a couple of weeks so that we can iron out any kinks.  During the second week, we will train a couple of people to take over the spot and work it for us.  I would stay and work, but will still have Bastrop to run and any other new spot we open.  Doesn't bother me.  I know that the spot will run smooth if I work it first.

We aren't stopping with the one spot in Austin.  Have a meeting today to find out if my propane cart can be used in Austin and have another meeting next Wednesday about a night time spot in Downtown Austin.  We are moving full steam ahead on this.  I do have a new business partner on this and that is why we are expanding so quick. 

We have other ideas besides hot dogs and those will have to gain approval from the city of Austin.  I'm sure they will be fine with it, but you never know.  If they approve it, we will start working on plans to make those items available also.  This seems like a lot at one time but if you don't move quick, someone else will.

My business partner is someone I know and trust.  He has experience in the food service industry and we are usually on the same page.  We both know how to work in a partnership like this and have tons of respect for each others knowledge and drive.  If I had to pick the one person to open a business with, it would be him.


Had to pay another $150 for my health permit in Bastrop.  That probably sounds familiar...it should, I just did it back in October.  Unfortunately the county doesn't prorate anything.  If you get a permit, it is for January thru December....no matter when you paid for it.  Oh well, at least we are legal.

Still need help in getting my free sandwich table up and running.  Will try to work on it this weekend and hopefully figure something out.  If not, I might just sell it and find something else.

Business has been steady this week.  Had two days of 2pm rushes and then two days of 12pm rushes.  Not sure why.  I do know that there is only 3 of us restaurants open after 2pm now.  Works for me!

I have updated the website in regards to the Austin location.  No menu or prices up yet.  Still working on that.  Take a look at the new logos on the site and let me know what you think....I'm envisioning t-shirts!
www.franksrocks.com

Might be closed on Saturday, will post on my Facebook or Twitter if we decide to open.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Long awaited update.

 

Haven’t posted in a while.  Mostly because we were closed for a while because of the cold weather.  I had decided to stay closed because it was just way too cold for me to be on the sidewalk or inside.  If we had the heat working in the building, then that would be a different story.  I could use the fireplace, but decided to just stay closed….and found out that downtown wasn’t busy at all during that time.

We are not going to New Orleans for the food festival.  I made the decision to stay here and work on the business.  I got a lot of advice from other people and it was about 80% in favor of skipping the event.  In the long run, it will be a much better decision.  We are hoping to go in 2011, but will have to wait and see.

Was closed on Saturday to attend an equipment auction and have a business meeting.  We didn’t end up winning any of the equipment, but it was only items we wanted and not needed.  I really wanted this steam table that we bid on, but people at that auction were paying retail prices for those items.  Not sure if they just don’t know prices, or just don’t care.  Good luck to them, I’m sure we will see that item back at an auction later this year.

Had an initial meeting with a future business partner.  Will have another meeting with that person and another partner.  Now why would my little hot dog cart need business partners?  Well, it doesn’t….but to ever build the business beyond my current location, it will take a team to accomplish.  Nothing has been decided and plans are only just beginning.  I hope to have more info soon, but am keeping things to myself until we know for sure. 

Shut down the webcam for now.  Since I am working on these other business plans, I just don’t have time for it.  If things change, I will put it up.  I liked having it up because people got to see how we operate. 

Will be offering some test items in the next few weeks.  Trying out some different things that might not even be available at this location.  I chose our kitchen as the test kitchen because I can control the process and get immediate feedback.  Some items we might decide to carry on the cart, will just have to wait and see.

I have noticed that our rush in now from 2pm to 3pm.  I think it is a little odd, but will take it.  It definitely beats sitting around for 4 hours and not doing anything.  I think we are getting people who ate an early lunch and don’t plan on having dinner till much later.   Will need to figure out how to get the lunch people in and we should be set.

Increased the outdoor seating during good weather.  We now have our 2 little bistro sets and a tall pub table with 3 barstools.  I plan on getting another tall table and more barstools, because now no one sits on anything else.  Go figure.

I am needing to be busy this week.  Please come by and see us.  We should be open all week, unless the weather turns off really bad.

Will try to update the blog this week.  I am in favor of doing a video blog, but will just need to find the time.  I can record during business hours, but have to find any time to edit the video.  I always have lots more to say, but it never really gets across when I type it.  If anyone knows of a good video editor, please let me know.

Everyone have a great week and go buy a hot dog…even if it isn’t from me.