Hey, Hot Dog! Second Mobile Food Vendor Approved by Village Board

Mighty Dawg, a traveling concession business, will set up at stores, businesses and public events where food is not otherwise available.

"Got Hot Dogs, Will Travel" might well be the motto of a new business being launched by resident Jeff Rice.

Described as a mobile "hot dog wagon," Mighty Dawg proposes to go where no Plainfield frankfurter seller has gone before: To businesses that have no onsite food vendor, to public events that have no concession stand, and to any village location where people are hungry and food is scarce.

And just as it did last year with another novel mobile food business concept, , the Plainfield Village Board is willing to give Rice a chance. On Monday night, trustees approved the traveling hot dog cart by a 4-2 vote.

Rice said his goal is not to compete with other storefront businesses but to fill a void in locations where quick, simple food is desired but not available.

"Wherever I set up for the day, I'll be there for three or four hours," Rice said.

That could be in the parking lot of a big-box store, at a park-based sporting event or on the grounds of a large private employer, such as Diageo, he said.

His fare will not only include the traditional Chicago red hot but specialty dogs, including a BBQ Pulled Pork Dawg, a Mac 'n' Cheese Dawg and a Southwest Chili Dawg. He'll also sell chips, soft drinks and water, he said.

Just as similar food vendors do in Chicago, he'll get the word out about his location for the day by posting the information on his Facebook page and Tweeting followers, Rice said.

"People can have a little bit of fun with it," he said. "I want to offer a little something different in the area, just another choice."

Rice has extensive experience in the food business, including experience as an executive chef and caterer and a culinary arts degree. He has Illinois certification for sanitation and nutrition, he said.

Rice will register as a village business and will collect sales tax that will be paid into village coffers. The hot dog wagon will be pulled by a pickup truck, and will feature propane tanks for cooking and coolers to keep meat and other perishable items cold. The Will County Health Department approval for his operation is required.

Board reaction ranged from wholehearted support to skepticism to fear that approval could open the door to slew of other food entrepreneurs wanting to do the same thing.

Trustee Jim Racich, who joined Trustee Bill Lamb in voting against the proposal, said he could envision a "proliferation" of business proposals from people wanting to sell everything from ice cream to tacos.

Lamb questioned why Rice was choosing to do a mobile business rather than going with a traditional storefront operation. Rice responded that his decision was economic: He can't afford to open a fast-food restaurant.

But Rice also had one strong supporter in Trustee Paul Fay, who said he was impressed by the entrepreneur's detailed business plan.

"Mr. Rice, I applaud you for putting together a very creative proposal here this evening," Fay said. 

J.D April 04, 2012 at 01:24 PM
It's too bad we can not provide our community with healthier options.
Cyndi April 04, 2012 at 01:38 PM
I grew up in the city of Chicago. I worked for such hot dog vendors and LOVE the idea!!
Tom Nosal April 04, 2012 at 01:38 PM
Growing up in Chicago, I have fond memories of the hot dogs served from mobile carts. Those were the best hot dogs. I look forward to seeing Mr. Rice and his cart in the village. Mobile food businesses are the new wave in restaurants. Low overhead costs mean lower costs to the consumer and more choices.
Kevin S April 04, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Nice work Racich. We certainly wouldn't want a "proliferation" of business in the village, would we?
TC April 04, 2012 at 08:29 PM
The village of Plainfield won't allow a building owner to install a drive-thru so he can lease the space to Dunkin Donuts, but they will allow someone to haul around a trailer and cook food in parking lots??? Something is wrong with this!! Also, why should this guy be able to drive up to locations and sell food when other business owners have to pay rent on their retail space. Next thing the village is going to allow people to drive around and sell other items. Business owners wake up!! Whats next a mobile hair salon cutting hair in the parking lot of Great Clips? Or someone selling coffee in Starbucks parking lot?
KG April 04, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Can't wait to get a Mighty Dog hot dog! How nostalgic!
MG April 04, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Hey TC, who told you to rent a store front? This guy is thinking outside the box. Tough economic times are forcing entrepreneurs to adapt or disappear. How can more business or tax revinue be bad for Plainfield?? I personally can't wait for a good hot dog.
Dee Vojo April 04, 2012 at 10:48 PM
I agree so much with the comment above. I would like to see him drive in our neighborhoods like the good ole days with the moblie carts. In fact I have a thought of what he could add, I have told my husband that no one else has done.
Dee Vojo April 04, 2012 at 11:14 PM
I was a business owner in Plainfield and can understand where Rice is coming from about rent. Rent and gas prices are way to high. In fact I would rather save on gas and have him close by while I am in a parking lot alreay and not have to drive around. Also I think he can go further with his idea and expand his menu, employ people with giving them more per hour then minimum wage, seeing he has room to do so seeing he is not paying huge over head. He can also be a positive asset to bring down unemployment figures and create more jobs for local residents. Hmm salon cutting in a parking lot, why not?!? So what if they have coffee on the go. You don't have to buy it. Different strokes for many folks. Your just mad because you can't have a drive thru. OH, like we need another one of those! NOT I would love to know when he opens for the first time and I would love to be first in line to give him his first dollar. Lighten up man, life is too short. Seeing you are good at complaining get our gas prices down. Oh, having a drive thru would cost me more gas waiting in line and polluting the air at the same time. GOOD LUCK JEFF RICE, let us know where and when you will be open. Wish you MANY years of SUCESS!!
Cathy April 04, 2012 at 11:36 PM
Can't wait! I use to work at one when I was a kid and it was so much fun! I have a store front/office because I have to but if I could do my business from a traveling cart you better believe I would...Good Luck Rice and welcome to the business community!
jono April 05, 2012 at 07:14 PM
I once ate 6 hotdogs in one sitting..
jono April 05, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Can't wait to get one of these weiners in my mouth!
jono April 05, 2012 at 07:17 PM
I like tacos too.
Doug April 06, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Mighty Dawg... are you interested in participating in the Wounded Warrior 5K Run/Walk... May 26... Settler's Park, Plainfield? Email me at wwp5k@hotmail.com.


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