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Thread: Buffalo Place: Regulating your Hot Dog

  1. #1
    moonshine
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    Buffalo Place: Regulating your Hot Dog

    I spend a fair amount of time researching business opportunities here and abroad. Today I was chatting with some expats living on Margarita Island, Venezuela. We were talking about business opportunities when the prospect of curbside vending was mentioned. Sidewalk hot dog, popcorn, and ice cream cream vendors are in short supply even though the demand is high and the barriers to entry are non-existent. For sh*i*ts and giggles I started looking into the requirements for selling a curbside hot dog in downtown Buffalo.

    Feel free to correct me if any of this is wrong. It is only preliminary research...

    Buffalo Place controls all of the vendor licensing in the downtown main street corridor. Their poorly designed website states:

    Buffalo Place manages the Downtown core surrounding the pedestrian mall, which was developed as part of the Light Rail Rapid Transit Project. Buffalo Place activities are partially funded by special charges paid over and above property taxes within Downtown's Special Charge District. The Special Charge District includes Main, Pearl and Washington Streets from Goodell Street to the Buffalo River. Some constituent properties include HSBC Center, Main Place Mall, Hyatt Regency Buffalo, M&T Plaza, Key Center, Ellicott Square, Rand Building, Main-Seneca Building, The Brisbane Building and the majority of Downtown's large office buildings.
    http://www.buffaloplace.com/aboutus/about.html

    So Buffalo Place is mandated to extract an additional tax from those wishing to do business in the main street corridor.

    The hot dog vending industry has reasonably low startup costs in regards to equipment and operation. Fixed costs include a hot dog cart and a truck to pull it around with. Variable costs are inventory, labor, and equipment storage. Seems simple enough, right? I setup a hot dog cart in an area with a substantial amount of pedestrian traffic and sell hot dogs. Those of the hungry variety might act in their best interests and exchange $2 for a hunger quenching hot dog. The cleanliness of my cart, the quality of my Salen's dog, the availability of accessory hot dog "fixins", and the friendly demeanor of the employee operating the stand would differentiate me from the vendor up the street, no?

    Now let's look at the regulatory costs of running a hot dog cart.

    Willy-dog , a well established franchiser of the popular Willy-dog , Wee-Willy, and Mini-Willy hot dog cart provides this useful information in their FAQ:

    Q. How much does a license cost?
    A. Anything from free to about $300 a year
    How much does Buffalo Place, a "not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the economic health and quality of life in Downtown Buffalo", extract from those attempting to improve the quality of life in downtown Buffalo? According to their application, the following regulations and fees are required:

    1. A completed, notarized application for a license to vend or peddle(Attached).
    2. Two passport sized photos of each applicant.
    3. General liability and product liability insurance coverage of $500,000 naming the City of Buffalo as a co-insured.
    4. A New York State Sales Tax Certificate or proof of application.
    5. If a food vendor, proof of application for Erie County Department of Health permit to operate a permanent Food Service Establishment, anda copy of the receipt for payment of the fee.
    6. Any other permits required by any other statute.
    7. Two personal references (must be residents of City of Buffalo).
    8. Police background check for first time applicants ($10.00 fee).
    9. Photo of your vending cart for review and approval.
    10. Check or money order payable to "City of Buffalo, Division of Licenses"(Cash will not be accepted).
    NOTE:A separate application must be filed for each location.

    Let's break down those costs:
    1. Notary - $15
    2. Passport photos - $15
    3. Liability insurance - $100 - ???
    4 - NYS Sales tax cert - $35?
    5 - Application to the dept of health - ???
    6 - Any other permits - How the hell would you know? The application isn't clear.
    7 - Two personal references that must be buffalo residents - $25 in gas and hassle.
    8 - Police background check - $10
    9 - Photo of your vending cart - $2
    10 - Permit fee - $315 annually!!!!!!!!

    In addition, a "peddler's permit" fee is extracted. $63.

    At a minimum it will cost you around $525 just to sell one hot dog in Buffalo! And you haven't even bought your cart or paid the overhead yet.

    Call me old fashioned, but I'm the type of folk that takes their chances with hot dogs, deli sandwiches, or nachos. Sometimes you take your life into your own hands when you eat.

    It gets better, or worse depending on the direction your gun is pointed...

    Buffalo Place has decided you need to meet certain performance requirements if you want to sell a hot dog.

    Performance Requirements/Regulations

    Vendors may retain vending sites for succeeding years if they renew their permits, have no complaints on file, and have a record of meeting the performance requirements listed below:
    1.Vendors may only locate at sites they are approved to use.
    2.Vendors may only sell merchandise they are approved to sell. Changes in merchandise must be approved by Buffalo Place Inc.
    3.Annual vendors must vend 15 hours per week over at least four days per week between May and October 15, and two hours per day for at least 20 days between October 15 and April 15.
    4.Vendors must wear neat and clean clothing, and shoes and shirts are required. Aprons are required in the restricted area, and are available in the Buffalo Place office.
    5.Vendors must vend from a sturdy, attractive handcart with wheels that can be managed by one individual. Tables, or other pedestrian obstructions, are prohibited.
    6.Name of vending cart must be attractively and professionally displayed.
    7.Menu or merchandise listings must be professionally painted or handwritten on an attractive permanently affixed chalk or marker board. Handwritten cardboard signs will not be allowed.
    8.Licenses must be displayed in a standard location.
    9.Vendors are required to remove trash or take it to a trash collection site. Vendors may not use public trash receptacles.
    10.No license granted may be sold, leased, or assigned in any fashion.
    11.Carts must be removed from the Special District each day.
    12. Employees of vendors must each have a City of Buffalo-issuedPeddler’s Permit, in addition to the annual site permit.

    Analysis:
    1 - Don't step on someone else's turf.
    2 - After days of providing Hunt's Ketchup I decide to switch to Heinz. I'll need to document this.
    3 - If Buffalo Place declares you are a worthy hot dog salesman your ass better be selling hot dogs.
    4 - As opposed to the jungle pants and wife-beater shirt that is a sure crowd pleaser?
    5 - An over-fed member of Buffalo Place will sit on your cart to determine sturdiness. Attractiveness will be determined by the preservation society.
    6 - If a professional presentation cannot be achieved a picture of stalin will be an acceptable substitute.
    7 - No creativity allowed.
    8 - I have a big ass. I'll stick it there.
    9 - As opposed to allowing the trash to pile up beside my cart. Customers love that.
    10 - Unless you are the government.
    11 - How nice! The government is genuinely concerned that my cart might get stolen if I leave it unattended overnight in a deserted downtown.
    12 - See response #8. I promise to hire only fat chicks.

    Suppose I choose to play along. My hot dogs are approved. The condiments received the necessary seal of approval. The cart is spotless. I've decided to dress in the proper attire and make the hot dog purchasing area safe for my patrons. The menu was professionally designed and not easily changed. My vendor's license if firmly affixed om my ass. Now comes the hard part: securing the location.

    Buffalo Place, with their uncanny ability to determine where people would most likely purchase a hot dog, have developed a "Master List". (Note to those with heart problems: They do call it a "Master List" and it is established by a "Director of Licenses". I crap you not.)

    Site Selection

    A.Master list. Choices for sites shall be selected from available sites on the Downtown Special District master list, published each year by the Director of Licenses. A listing of available sites is attached to each vendor application.
    B.Applications will be reviewed based on past vending experience, uniqueness of goods, and provision of references.
    C.Competition for identical sites. If there is competition for a site among similarly qualified vendors, the decision will be made by city lottery.
    NOTE:Maximum of three (3) sites per person.

    Here we go again...
    A. Obviously hot dog salesmen aren't smart enough to determine where a hot dog should be sold.
    B. A perfect conundrum: If you've never sold a hot dog you aren't qualified to do so. If you've sold a hot dog you weren't licensed. Uniqueness will be determined by the government. Is the Federal food pyramid able to distinguish between french fries and pomme frites? No. References? Wolfgang Puck would vouch for me, but that would require him to accept the fact that I sold him a hot dog without a license.
    C. Hmmm...perhaps we need to close any Burger King operating on an adjacent corner from McDonalds. Even the most socialist urban planner would agree that many competing businesses within close proximity to each other create a distinguished marketplace.

    Let's recap:

    1. Selling one curbside hot dog in Buffalo will cost at least $525.
    2. Buffalo Place, a "not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the economic health and quality of life in Downtown Buffalo" uses regulatory taxes to achieve their goals.
    3. My ass is big.

    Now apply these regulations proportionately to the businesses in downtown Buffalo that don't receive welfare. Is there any question why downtown is a ghost town?


    The entire vendor application is available here:
    HTML form: http://72.14.203.104/search?q=cache:...ense&hl=en</a>
    PDF form: http://72.14.203.104/search?q=cache:...ense&hl=en</a>

  2. #2
    Tony Fracasso - Admin
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    Now remember all new business should do some research.

    We also have a teeny weenie which may be better than a Willy-dog


    Also see how other weenie vendors are doing in other areas A blog of weenie vendors

    How do other cities promote their downtowns?

  3. #3
    moonshine
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    We also have a teeny weenie which may be better than a Willy-dog
    Point taken. The teeny weenie is a formidable challenger to the hot dog cart industry. I apologize if I disrespected the teeny weenie crowd. The hot dog cart industry is competitive and should be taken seriously.

    I referenced Willy-Dog because they provided cost figures. I haven't decided on a model or vendor yet.

  4. #4
    Tony Fracasso - Admin
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    We should discuss weiners though..

    Sahlens or those 100% beef Willy Dogs...

  5. #5
    Member steven's Avatar
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    LOL, you guys never worked in food service.

    In defence of Buffalo place most of those rules are because of state mandates and most of the vending carts you see are not owned by individuals, the people working them most of the time are employees, not owners. You would be surprised how much money is in vending like that.
    People who wonder if the glass is half empty or full miss the point. The glass is refillable.

  6. #6
    Member concernedwnyer's Avatar
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    Re: Buffalo Place: Regulating your Hot Dog

    Originally posted by moonshine

    This is an easy response for me - it really is. Those so-called curbside vending food carts are the filthiest things going! You have a person handling food, handling money, god knows if he/she properly washed after doing personal business, and are out in the dirty environment. Ninety nine percent of the food vending carts do not have water,,,, Sorry “but I put on plastic gloves when handling the food” does not cut it with me. Yea and I have a dinner invitation at George’s house up there in Albany. I had an Aunt who lived in NYC and family would go and visit. Yes, I did get hot pretzels from the street vendor but now I cannot bring myself up to buy anything from ANY such street vendor. Yuck! Another reason is you do not know what you are getting. Literally. Wow this hot dog is really good what brand is it??? Ya don’t want to know – enjoy it! Turkey legs in amusement parks - let me tell ya this there aint no chef in the back cooking all those turkey legs.

    My advice – suck it up and just pay the high property tax like everyone else when Joel gets his way very soon.

  7. #7
    Gold Member Night Owl's Avatar
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    but I put on plastic gloves when handling the food”

    I bet this will be the only time I agree with concernedwnyer.

    Wearing gloves while handling food AND money doesn't make it the cleanest. Health codes require people to handle food with gloves on, but *YUK* it doesn't include handling anything else that would make plain hands unsanitary just because the gloves are on.

    I never buy from hot dog venders for that reason; OR any other consession where one person is handling more than just food.... I would pay more by purchasing from another place or take my chances with a vending machine. I was at the convention center once where I saw one person was preparing food, running her fingers through her hair, rubbing her nose from the "sniffles" and being a cahsier all at the same time. Did it make it alright because she was wearing protective gloves? No way Jose!

    As far as Main Place goes, it's no different than a Mall charging for rent.

  8. #8
    Member steven's Avatar
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    Actually NY state is way behind the times. Studies have proven wearing the gloves is actually dirtier than a clean naked hand. A lot of states have rolled back the glove thing but like everything else NY is behind.

    AND your probably safer with a street vendor, at least you see what they are doing before you get your food.
    People who wonder if the glass is half empty or full miss the point. The glass is refillable.

  9. #9
    Member speaker's Avatar
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    Actually---these vendors are supposed to change their gloves between handling money and food.
    There's a well known convenience store chain that I go to, and when I order a sub anda person puts it together, they cannot use the register, too. Twice I've complained to the manager when I've seen help "wiping" their noses, hair, handling money. I know they were warned or let go. Don't know how others can watch this and not walk out.
    But I'll take my chances any day on hot dogs. The germs get burnt off (I hope)and they usually advertise Sahlens or the brand . And these are checked (sometimes).
    Heck, I think the worst it can do is make me so sick I HAVE to leave work.

  10. #10
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    Originally posted by speaker
    Actually---these vendors are supposed to change their gloves between handling money and food.
    Handling money is not something that gloves nead to be changed for by nystate law.

  11. #11
    Member ReformWNY's Avatar
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    This is actually a BRILLIANT thread - and one that should be brought to the attention of the public. Can someone turn this in to a front page article? I'm serious. You took, in real life terms, what is wrong with the city and laid it out.

    It looks SOCIALIST

    The only think missing from it were the requirements to employ better than 75% union workers at X$/hour, vacation, etc.


    Ahh I love Mother Rus... errr... I mean... Mother Buffalo.

    Good Work, Comrade!
    "I know the man. he is not using a theasuarus."

  12. #12
    Gold Member Night Owl's Avatar
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    Can someone turn this in to a front page article? I'm serious. You took, in real life terms, what is wrong with the city and laid it out.

    It should also include space rented at area malls too.

    Just because Main Place is outside doesn't mean anyone can just set up their hotdog stand on any given corner of Main Street without a permit from the City and space rented to Main Place.

    Just because the McKinley Mall is inside it doesn't mean anyone can set up a display without having a business certificate with the state and pay for rented space.

  13. #13
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    Originally posted by WNYresident
    We should discuss weiners though..

    Sahlens or those 100% beef Willy Dogs...
    What about Sabrett Hot Dogs? They're NY's #1 Hot Dog and are sold from carts in NYC ... they're the best!

    They don't call them "Dirty Water Hot Dogs" for nothing. Gotta earn that kind of respect


    http://www.pirylis.com/newyorkflavor/index.html

  14. #14
    Tony Fracasso - Admin
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    Originally posted by ReformWNY
    This is actually a BRILLIANT thread - and one that should be brought to the attention of the public. Can someone turn this in to a front page article? I'm serious. You took, in real life terms, what is wrong with the city and laid it out.

    It looks SOCIALIST

    The only think missing from it were the requirements to employ better than 75% union workers at X$/hour, vacation, etc.


    Ahh I love Mother Rus... errr... I mean... Mother Buffalo.

    Good Work, Comrade!
    Well someone take the iniative and write up an article based on this and we'll link into the forum here.

    I can't write well So it won't be me.

    Do we al think the post itself should be posted? It will be all over the search engines once it's up.

  15. #15
    Gold Member Night Owl's Avatar
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    Do we al think the post itself should be posted? It will be all over the search engines once it's up.

    You mentioned something in a different thread about "having the ducks in a row" this thread does not. It doesn't have what & where for obtaining a permit from the City of Buffalo, it doesn't have rental contracts of Main Place or other locations pertaining to rental spaces. There would have to be something detailing the registration of a business with New York State to compare selling hot dogs on a corner vs. inside of a mall (or something alike).

    Aside from all that, the thread is continual and based moreso on opinions - so if it is posted as an "article" it wouldn't be accurate enough than if someone actually researched everything and wrote about it in standard form of press writing.

    ( minus "rumor has it" )

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