So strolling down Polk especially after midnight, there’s that unique smell of food coming from the local cafes and restaurants. But it is not that smell that grabs your attention. It is the smell of frying onions coming from a hot dog vender nestled between two parked cars or on the curb away from prying eyes. These venders do not have valid permits, in fact they have no permits what so ever. You can spot three or four different hot dog stations on Polk street alone. Now take in to consideration all the streets in SF with any remnant of night life, that adds up to a lot of hot dogs and most importantly a lot of un taxed revenue.
You might think, wait it is only a few young folks from south of the border just making some cash to feed their families, yes they are, but they are doing it at your expense. Now here is where it gets tricky, you see many these hot dog venders are part of the same networks. Word on the street, by that I mean (banter I hear in bars) is that only two or three guys run all the illegal hot dog stands in SF, is the dealer headline sinking in yet?
Lets break down the costs here, 50 hot dogs at Costco average $0.66 each, buns $0.25each , onions $0.10 per serving, ketchup & mustard $0.5 per serving 7 lets tack on another $0.30 for cooking, aluminum foil etc. So with out to much research I can prepare & cook a hot dog in less than a minute for under a buck fifty. I am sure these guys have that down to under $1 as I am basing my costs off our local Costco, outside the city prices can get lower. They sell them for $6 each so that’s a quick profit of $5 tax free. Now the vender has to get paid, lets take a wild guess & say 20% that’s a buck per sale, the more you sell the more you make, Ahhh capitalism. That leaves $4 for the dealer or head dog (pun intended)
BTW 50 dogs can easily be sold at one vender, that’s $300+ and these venders are very mobile, they can move a couple of blocks and in minutes and be selling to a whole new bunch of hot dog addicts. So it’s not far fetch to think that each of these individual venders could be taking in $500 a night.
Now here’s the genius of this, you get in a lot more trouble selling lumps of rock cocaine than you would selling something as innocent as a hot dog and you turn a bigger profit. It’s like when gangs who dealt in drugs switched to smart phone theft it was not as easy for the cops to prove a phone was not their property as it was a rock of cocaine. Problem is, crack dealers did not directly affect the cities economy where as these hot dog venders are. If each of these venders are making say $1000 per weekend not a high number. That selling about 85 dogs a night, lets say there are 20 dealers err I mean hot dog venders, that’s $20k in one weekend that’s just two days out of the week folks, that’s almost $1 million in lost revenue per year to local cafes & restaurants, I’m not even an economist in any way, shape or form but I do know business pay taxes which in turn keeps the city running.
Now if you ever find your self standing at one of these hot dog stands, you’ve had a few beers & you have a dose of the munchies, before you chomp down on that bad boy take a quick look around, you will see a couple of cats with their hoodies up or wearing tilted baseball caps, these are the minders, not only are they keeping an eye on their cooks, but most importantly they are watching out for their own or bosses investment. So when you pull out your camera like I did be prepared for a slue of questions, like “Are you a cop” & “Why are you filming the hot dog guy” I just shrugged the questions off with “Your in public so I can”
The point I am trying to make is why is the city not doing any thing about these un permitted, illegal & unsanitary hot dog stations?