Hot Dog! Cart Plan Approved

Lots of hot dogs in the news this week -- and Naperville is getting into the mix

Hot dog! It's another story featuring summer's favorite: franks. And it scores one for the little guy.

Dateline: Naperville

It seems this suburb's City Council relishes the idea of a downtown hot dog cart after all.

Naperville resident Joe Hornbaker has been trying for months to convince the City Council to let him operate a hot dog vending cart downtown.

At first, he got a lot of pushback from council members, but on Wednesday he earned a 5-3 vote from the City Council, which will allow the hot dog man a trial run for one-year.

The Naperville Sun reports that Councilman Joe Dunn said credited Hornbaker with "persistence and an entrepreneurial attitude."

"I think it is the time that we grant him that trial opportunity," said Councilman Joe Dunn, adding that Hornbaker has been persistent in his efforts to get the thumbs up.

"I still have a little bit of trouble with the issue of this being on public property and the fact that we have precious little room on our streets as it is for pedestrians,"  another councilmen, Jim Boyajian, said.

But Hornbaker addressed the concerns of council members at this week's meeting and apparently won a vote or two.

"To make myself on a level playing field, I'm more than willing to pay a food and beverage tax; it's only fair," he said.

"I'm willing to pay a fee based on an appropriate calculation for an operation of my size. I'm not trying to gain an advantage by not paying the appropriate fees. I'm trying to add an attraction and a service to the downtown area," he said.

Hornbaker's plan indicates that he'll operate his cart during two time periods each day — from noon to 4 p.m. and from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.

The cart, he said, will remain stationary and he will provide his own garbage can. All waste would be disposed of in a private trash bin, he said.

"If this works, I plan on being here for the long haul and hopefully opening up a full-menu storefront and becoming a staple in the downtown area," Hornbaker said.

But it is the well-being and fairness to the existing restaurants that has the Downtown Naperville Alliance concerned.

"No. 1, we do want to be fair and equitable," DNA Director Katie Wood said. "This is an outside business coming in and I do think it will take right out of the pockets from a lot of our existing businesses, our on-the-go carry-out businesses."

While the council approved the concept Wednesday, it will grant the permit for the business at its April 21 meeting.

City Manager Doug Krieger said Thursday, "We need to come up with some formula so he can make a fair contribution along the lines of what the brick and mortar would."

"The amount of business that one hot dog stand is going to take away from all of the restaurants -- spread across all the restaurants -- is very small," Rosanova said. "This is an amenity on a trial basis. Let's move forward with this thing and get it done."

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