A new food stand? Hot dog!

by Molly Moker

Many students have a tough time juggling school and a part-time job, but three University seniors will attempt to balance classes with owning their own business when their Dinkytown hot dog stand opens this weekend.

Carlson School of Management seniors Mike Fineman, and David Saarela and Inter-College Program senior Andrew Smith are co-owners of Dinky Dogs, which will open Saturday in the Dinkydome.

The entrepreneurs will host a grand opening celebration from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. that will include disc jockeys and 1,000 free hot dogs.

The business has two locations, one in the Dinkydome food court and the other street level at 15th Avenue Southeast, which will serve as a walk-up window.

The partners first envisioned the business in January, when they saw the vacant window between TCF Bank and the Student Book Store.

The team thought the location would be ideal for a walk-by snack shop and hot dog stand. But starting the business was notas easy as they had hoped.

“We went to the city to get everything OK’d and they told us it would be impossible to cook hot dogs there,” Fineman said. “There were all these city requirements and health codes against it.”

Fineman said the small downstairs area was not conducive to cooking. But the team got a break when the owner of J.J.’s Snacks said she would let them share her kitchen.

When J.J.’s Snacks closed, the students bought the space, in addition to their street window.

Starting Saturday, Dinky Dogs will be open in the food court Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with extra hours Thursday through Saturday from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. The street-level window will open in about a month.

Fineman said the stand’s prices will be cheaper and faster than other late-night Dinkytown dining options.

“We’re hoping to do faster business, which will be very convenient for students when they want to grab something between their classes,” he said. “You can just grab a hot dog and eat it while you walk.”

Fineman said they are more interested in the experience of running a business than making a large profit, and as a result, will be able to offer cheap menu items. Every night there will be a featured hot dog for a dollar.

Students interviewed this week said they agree a hot dog stand is something Dinkytown needs.

“It seems like a good idea,” junior Amy Lukes said. “It will be nice to have somewhere to go late at night besides a bar.”

Dinkydome business owners are also excited for the stand to open.

“I hope it will bring in more people,” said Josh Nienow, manager at Taco John’s. “It’s really slowed down around here since Coffman (Union) opened last year.”

Dinkydome manager Chacke Scallen said she thinks the business will be a huge success.

“I’m really excited. Students are always asking us for something that is fast and reasonable,” she said. “(The owners are) very energetic boys, and they have a good rapport with a lot of students on campus. They’re young, so they have young ideas, and I think they’re great.”