a really good hot dog in Europe?
April 6, 2014 3:06 PM   Subscribe

My SO's older son will be 17 in the fall. I want to give him something that will provide a nominal income for him as he won't be able to work due to the requirements of his college. Options I am considering are: a greeting card business with some other members of his family; helping to run a summer camp; performing songs about stuff on Spotify; and; having an interest in a hot dog stand. I think hot dog stand is probably the most available option, followed by greeting cards. Problem is sourcing high quality franks in England. Sweden? I would rather they be all-beef than pork, and there being a halal or kosher option.
posted by parmanparman to Food & Drink (31 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Who is running the hot dog stand, if not him? These ideas all sound well-intentioned but a bit unlikely to be successful. Where will the hot dog stand be based? Who is going to be staffing it? How will you deal with resupplying it - will you purchase supplies yourself, or have them ordered? I think sourcing the hot dogs is the least of your problems in this regard. Starting businesses with family members (or really any sort of financial entanglement with family members that are not your spouse) should be given very careful thought...without careful planning it can lead to arguments and ill feelings. Generally going into business with family members should be avoided (a cursory scan of the green should give you some anecdata to support this).

I'd suggest giving him cash or starting a retirement fund for him that might be able to provide a very marginal dividend for him every couple of months.
posted by arnicae at 3:48 PM on April 6, 2014 [4 favorites]

This is a weird question because people are going to be distracted by how the whole proposal seems really problematic. I mean, is your question just, where can I buy good hot dogs wholesale in Europe?
posted by latkes at 3:52 PM on April 6, 2014 [13 favorites]

It's not clear from your phrasing whether you think he will just be too busy with schoolwork to have a job, or whether his school will somehow literally not allow him to hold any sort of traditional "on the books" job. More context would help you get better answers.

If it's just a time thing, many college students take part-time jobs. Is this not an option?

There is no money in making greeting cards.
posted by jessicapierce at 3:55 PM on April 6, 2014

"Hot dog stand in England or Sweden" screams "OH FUCK NO" to me. At 17, camp counsellor sounds like it's got far more potential for his personal growth. He'll help the campers, he'll learn from them, and he'll help and learn from the older camp organizers.
posted by hangashore at 4:02 PM on April 6, 2014 [4 favorites]

Are you giving him a job or a business? If it is a job, well, depends on him but a lot of younger people don't really appreciate how much of a gift it is. Hence the stereotype of the boss' son. If it is a business, it will fail unless he chooses it himself, is invested emotionally, financially, and physically in it, and you don't interfere or abuse your position as investor.
posted by saucysault at 4:02 PM on April 6, 2014 [6 favorites]

What is your question?
1. Where can I source these hot dogs for the stand, and what do I need to know about importing franks?
2. Would these be good ideas for businesses for my SO's son while he is in college?
3. Can you think of other business ideas for my SO's son while he is in college?
4. I'd like to start a business for my SO's son to take over when he is in college. Is this a good idea?
5. If this is a bad idea, what else could he do?

Because I can't find a question mark in your post, and the answers you get here are going to vary widely depending on how folks interpret the problem at hand.
posted by barnone at 4:17 PM on April 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's also not clear whether the things you list are already available opportunities. or just brainstorming on your part. Does the hot dog stand / greeting card / summer camp job already exist, and is waiting for your SO's son to step into it? Are these jobs that the kid has expressed interest in, or are you trying to pick out a job for him?

I'm pretty lost as to what you are asking, even before we got to the hot dogs.
posted by jessicapierce at 4:20 PM on April 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

We've talked about all these things. He could run the stand part-time also hire others to run it. It would go with him to university. I have spoken to a lot of food cart operators and they all have said they would be willing to mentor. Summer camp is a fun idea but not as economically feasible in England, due to summer break being just six weeks. I worry about giving him money. If I could afford it, I would buy him an annuity. He understands the power of having a small earner when he is young and because his younger brother has expressed interest in the restaurant business, I view this as a reasonable low cost solution.
posted by parmanparman at 4:24 PM on April 6, 2014

Most university students just get summer jobs. That's what I and everyone else I know did. The food safety certificate that he will need to have in order to get a food cart licence will also allow him to get a job in a normal kitchen.
posted by tinkletown at 4:27 PM on April 6, 2014

The problem is we can get great pork sausages but I want American style Kosher or Halal beef franks. If that is impossible at aa fair price without import duty, it would be great.
posted by parmanparman at 4:27 PM on April 6, 2014

The problem is that summer jobs are in real short supply for young people and his college forbids him from working full time for more than one month each year the entire time he will study.
posted by parmanparman at 4:29 PM on April 6, 2014

I'm confused about how "running a business" is compatible with either the concept of "gifts" or "cannot work while in school". In addition to those questions, keep in mind that running a hotdog stand will likely include getting a street vending license, health inspections, business registrations and taxes, etc. I suspect that sourcing hotdogs will be the easy part.

That being said, googling "wholesale hotdogs uk" seems to give you plenty of places to start.
posted by Kololo at 4:30 PM on April 6, 2014 [6 favorites]

Running a hot dog stand as a student at a university is going to be really difficult, due to things you aren't thinking about, like the school's contract with its current food vendors who probably don't want to compete with said hot dog stand.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 4:59 PM on April 6, 2014 [7 favorites]

Please don't take this the wrong way--people are just trying to narrow down what your question is really asking so that they can answer it with the best advice. Latkes and barnone have both asked you some questions to narrow down what you're really asking so you can help us help you; barnone in particular has given you some great options, all numbered. Can you update with one or more questions?

I think people are worried this is one of those questions where the asker is nominally asking about one thing (like "how do I cover up the bruises my boyfriend gives me") and the community can't get over the premise enough to answer the question as stated, instead giving advice for the unasked question ("how do I leave my boyfriend"). I mean, if you just wanted to know where to buy good hot dogs, you could have just asked that, right? What's all this about greeting cards and camp counseling?

The problem is we can get great pork sausages but I want American style Kosher or Halal beef franks.

Is this going to be his stand? What does he want? (Unless it's really going to be your business and you're just going to give him the profits.) Is he (not his younger brother) interested in this type of arrangement? I assume you have a reasonable belief that there's a market for this kind of thing in his area.

Again, I'm not trying to grill you (just the dogs, right?), just trying to figure out how to give the best business advice.

I hope I'm not overstepping here, mods.
posted by spelunkingplato at 5:03 PM on April 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

I think your intentions are great but there are many reasons why the hot dog thing would be a bad idea. Pitches/permit are difficult to obtain and here in Edinburgh where I live there is some shadowy organized crime/masonic influences/large amounts of cash changing hands in order to get the best location. Not to mention health permits, storage of perishables. Do you have any idea/interest in learning about food hygiene?

However to answer your question about specifically getting hot dogs. The best mass market one is from Costco who sells a Chicago style beef frank which I believe is Kosher in their fridge section, it's made in the USA and so they have taken out the steps of importing for you. They also do buns and large quantities of condiments which you may want to consider for wholesale supply if you go down that route. Otherwise nearly every large wholesale food supplier in the UK will be able to cater to your requirements for the hot dogs as many are sold around the country in restaurants every day (Brakes, 3663 etc....)

If you want to get Halal look in any Eastern grocery store in the freezer section, otherwise the aforementioned food suppliers. The quality is normally disgusting though, I've seen chicken hot dogs and other oddities.

You can get seasonal pitches which are cheaper and it is much easier to run a small stand at farmers markets/festivals part time. Generally how it works though is you shell out a large amount up front and hope to reclaim that in sales over the period you paid for. For example I've been quoted around 10k to have a small food stand at a festival and if it rains you can just throw all that money away. If you don't have a busy schedule moving the stand to the next job then you can easily end up with wasted stock. The kid will be 17, will he be able to drive a car with trailer in order to move the stand about?

If it is just going to be a very temporary thing for a summer job and time at university, I would suggest getting one of those 3 wheel bicycles, a large icebox and doing an ice cream bicycle instead. It's much easier to store than a hot dog stand and involves much less outlay (plus he can pedal it every where). If you want to really work the farmers markets make your own ice cream/custards/gelato and get a pacojet or commercial ice cream maker plus a second hand chest freezer. They can be had second hand for not too much money. Make some friends with a dairy farmer at a market and bam, you got a branded locally sourced product. Also I think ice cream is more likely to win him friends at uni than smelling like a hot dog! Not to mention pulling up at a BBQ ready with an ice chest of beer on his trike..

So yeah - go for an ice cream stall/bike. People in the UK and Sweden are perverse about eating cold things in the winter and I am sure you could convert the cool box to selling homemade soup wintertime if you notice profits drop. If he does want to make his own then interesting to experiment and more fun than a tube steak and bun.
posted by camerasforeyes at 5:29 PM on April 6, 2014 [6 favorites]

A bunch of these answers aren't really UK oriented (a totally different concept of "summer camp" for example.) What you are asking about from a US perspective is the all-beef frank ala Hebrew National. The two cart purveyors of this type of franks in London, The Dogfather and Big Apple, get theirs from Hawksmoor: 157 Commercial Street, London E1 6BJ. This is not going to work if your son is not in London. You need ready availability.

Try Waitrose for Gilbert's. Get some Danish dogs while you're there and taste test. They also sell the buns!
posted by DarlingBri at 5:47 PM on April 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

What do you mean by "nominal income"? A very small income, or just a title for some kind of paperwork and the income is irrelevant?

None of the jobs you listed are ones that can be done with no experience, in one's spare time, and still make any income worth mentioning.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:57 PM on April 6, 2014 [5 favorites]

Offer to invest in any business that he wants to run, after he has has researched it himself and spent time with a mentor who is an expert in said business. What you are suggesting just seems messy and not very helpful.

It does seem like you are passionate about American style hot dogs which, according to you, are difficult to come by in your area. Why don't you invest in a hot dog factory? Turn your passion into profit which you could use to support this young man while he focuses on his studies.
posted by myselfasme at 8:10 PM on April 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

FWIW I have two friends who did this. They opened a hot dog shop on a whim, but actually made all their money with a cart they took into nightclubs or in front of nightclubs. They didn't know anything about food, retail, hot dogs, food carts or anything else. They took the required health and safety classes, got on with it and did just fine, so I don't actually think this is the worst idea ever.

They then made a zillion euros with a software product (funded by hot dogs) and packed in the dog business. Obviously.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:38 PM on April 6, 2014

My favorite is the fransk hotdog at the numerous pølsevogn in Copenhagen. Hands down.
posted by bz at 10:09 PM on April 6, 2014

Unless it's a high-end artisan hot dog stand at a street food market, running a hot dog stand isn't really something you'd want to do in the UK - from my work at at a local council in London I found that mainly the stands were illegal and being chased by local council enforcement officers. Legal permits and pitches are hard to come by! It's not something you'd want to start as a summer job on a whim, more a career/small business.
posted by ozgirlabroad at 10:45 PM on April 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Unless it's a high-end artisan hot dog stand at a street food market, running a hot dog stand isn't really something you'd want to do in the UK

Echoing this. I'd also add that we're just really not that big on hot dogs in the UK. Kebabs, burgers and fish and chips, yes. Hot dogs... not so much. There's a company springing up in certain railway stations who are obviously hoping to change this but so far the one at Clapham Junction appears to be mainly selling to tourists and late-night drunks. Still, maybe this will change.
posted by Decani at 12:59 AM on April 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Heya there - nthing this is nice idea, but it doesn't seem like the kind of idea that will work out.

I imagine that setting up a business will end up being far more work and far more stress to make the same amount of money as working a few hours here and there. Especially with the difficulty in obtaining premises and certification that others have pointed out (and definitely make sure you do this legally if you decide to go down this route).

I'm not sure what the restrictions his college is imposing that stop him working (do you mean college in the U.K sense?), but would it be possible for him to pick up a few hours of work in the evenings/weekends without them noticing? The jobs market for young people is pretty shit in England at the moment, but there is stuff to be had if you're a bit tenacious. If you get the kid signed up to two or three temp agencies now, you might get a something managable and you'll get called earlier about summer jobs. Anything they offer won't be very interesting or well paid, but the money will add up over the holiday.

If you want to do something to help him out, it might be worth paying for your SO's child to have some training so he can earn a bit more and be in demand as a worker. Things that worked out fairly well for friends of mine at that age were lifeguarding and forklift driving, but I'm sure there are a few areas where a one week course will give you some kind of vocational qualification - check job boards near you and see if employers are asking for anything.

Finally, if the issue is that he is going to university soon and you're worried he won't have any money, don't worry, that's not unusual. Most people get a job whilst at university or in the holidays, even though they usually aren't glamorous jobs. Most people also get some kind of extra financial support too, either through loans, bursaries or their parents, so don't be too afraid of the 'hand-out' aspect of it - a cultural precedent exists. Don't bother even thinking of buying him an annuity, but if you're able to, offer to pay half of his rent or something similar. If you can't afford that, no problem, but let him know he can come to you if he gets himself into financial difficulty (it happens) and you'll try to help him sort it out. And if this is about him going to university soon, could he take a gap year beforehand to earn a bit of money?
posted by Ned G at 3:13 AM on April 7, 2014

I don't have anything to add re. hot dogs and small businesses, but for those skeptical of the OP's claim that the university forbids students from working, here's my undergraduate university's policy on student jobs during term: term-time employment is not permitted except under exceptional circumstances. Not sure how common this is in the UK though.
posted by iona at 4:41 AM on April 7, 2014

They have Costco in England and they sell rather good hot dogs in their food court. You can also bulk buy the dogs in their shop. I don't know if it is a good idea (in the UK you might want to be more jacket potato orientated) but it would be easily doable just getting the dogs from Costco, and probably all of the misc toppings as well.
posted by koolkat at 4:46 AM on April 7, 2014

You could try using the "good pork sausages" you can source for a "good old farmhouse sausages in a roll" style thing? I've seen a couple around in Norwich and they seem to do reasonable business.
posted by danteGideon at 6:09 AM on April 7, 2014

Why do something that is an investment? That's a pretty large infusion of cash and it's a dicey proposition.

He may not be able to work full time, but he can work part time. How about he sells someone else's hot dogs? Or becomes a waiter, or a bar-back, or works in a call center, or any of a number of part-time jobs that college folks have held for time immemmorial. Deliver pizza, be the night desk clerk at a motel (GREAT job, lots of time to study!) work on campus, be an Avon lady.

There are a million part-time jobs in the naked city, and none of them are risky or require an investment of cash.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:19 AM on April 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oxbridge are afaik the only universities to ban employment for students. They also ban undergraduates having cars (or hotdog carts). They are part of the more paternalistic/communal attitude that colleges take towards their students.

There is a general expectation that students won't do anything that might excessively interfere with their studies and trying to start a hotdog stand would be much more noticeable and likely to be frowned on than just some part time employment,
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 10:12 AM on April 7, 2014 [5 favorites]

I am grateful for all of your ideas and suggestions.
posted by parmanparman at 11:20 AM on April 7, 2014

Summer camp doesn't really exist in the UK but I do know people here who went to be camp counsellors in the US and loved it. I would have done it myself if I'd had more experience with kids/sports.

Unless you're in an area where there are lots of office workers or some sort of wanky street food 'scene', the start up costs, permits and hygiene training for food safety seems too much fo a drawback to me.
posted by mippy at 4:00 AM on April 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Don't know if this helps or not, but I have a probably unhealthy amount of experience with American hot dogs. Last Saturday I had the most amazing hot dog in my life...at the Keukenhof in the Netherlands. Maybe call them and ask where they get them (there's only one hot dog stand there).
posted by digitalprimate at 6:23 AM on April 8, 2014

« Older What did bloodletters do with the blood they let?   |   What kind of nurse are you? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.