FL Program Participants Turn Hot Dog Cart into Self-Sustaining Business

Row of hot dogs with different condimentsDuring the workweek, hungry lunchtime shoppers near the Goodwill Industries-Suncoast (St. Petersburg, FL) Ocala Outlet store on West Silver Springs Boulevard now have a unique option: hot dogs from a cart managed by nine participants in the Goodwill Adult Day Training Program.

A few months ago, the training program supervisor, Derek Arnold, proposed jump starting a hot dog cart for his program participants to run and manage amid Marion County’s various food-based businesses.

Before they could help with the cart, the training program participants all went through extensive training to become certified food handlers. This included learning how to manage temperature logs, utilize proper sanitation, purchase and maintain inventory, and demonstrate exceptional customer service skills.

“The hot dog cart teaches our participants real-world skills in the food service industry,” said Michael Ann Harvey, vice president for marketing and public relations at the St. Petersburg Goodwill.  “It’s fun, and it could prove invaluable for their future employment.”

That idea has now taken off and the hot dog cart— open from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday—has seen steady monthly sales of about $1,200. Their food handling training, basic business skills and progress tracking on a specially designed spreadsheet have paid off. For the first few months, their adult day skills trainer helped with the endeavor, but the nine entrepreneurs now run the cart almost entirely on their own.