The ubiquitous hotdog stand and the business are again raised to a higher level with the opening of Vienna Beef’s Hotdog University.  Founded by Mark Reitman, this university focuses on everything that a food concessionaire would face while on the streets. Many exercises include cold dressing, meaning getting a steamed bun in the cold and dressing the dog which is all packed in a two day crash course to master the hotdog cart.

The program has been very successful for the Vienna Beef Company both as a marketing ploy and an entrepreneurship program to assist those that have been laid off due to the current recession. With the enrollees increasing each year, the program has provided not only an opportunity for individuals to gain a craft in these trying times, it has also carried the hotdog company’s products to far flung areas without much of the costs of marketing associated for campaigns.

The program though is not for free. The company charges a fee for a two tiered program, $899 for a cart class while $1,499 for a hot dog stand class. This though is not only tuition, as one completed the class, the company provides food and merchandise rebates equal to the matriculation so that once the graduates ply their trade, they would be selling Vienna hotdogs.

The program also has other basics for operating a hotdog business. These include a classroom lecture on start-up fees, food safety laws in the area and proper water temperature for the hotdog tank. The second day, the students are trained on the proper techniques on shaking water off a dog, applying condiments, the kinds of condiments such as yellow mustard, pickle relish, chopped onions, tomato wedges, pickled spears, sport peppers and celery salt, the true Chicago way.

In a nutshell, the headmaster Reitman says that the hotdog cart business is “a business of minute details.” This is very important when the weather comes to play, especially the wind.  He also identifies one key element to the business that is location with high visibility, a lot of foot traffic, no competition, space for parking, close to trashcans and public restrooms. In the end, the business is a numbers game, the more people that see your stand or cart, the higher the probability of having a sale and making your business a profitable one.

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