on August 1, 2008 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Hot dog vendor departs; city considers other options

CLEMSON — Dank Dogs, a hot dog vending franchise operated by two Clemson University students, is gone, and city officials are considering how to use their former site in front of the planning office and Jaycee Park.

Two recent Clemson University graduates, who founded Dank Dogs, recently elected not to renew their license to operate, and City Administrator Rick Cotton told council members that an out-of-town vendor has expressed interest in the site.

Whereas Dank Dogs operated primarily at night, Cotton said the prospective vendor desires longer operating hours in order to serve lunch. But Cotton said his personal preference is to see the locations used by downtown merchants or non-profit organizations.

“An art vendor could locate there, and there has also been discussion of a potential sculpture downtown, with one of the spots under consideration being the front of the planning office,” Cotton said.

Council member J.C. Cook agreed. “When you think of people downtown paying high rent and taxes, I feel it’s (food vendor) a little unfair.”

But council member Margaret Thompson said she liked the spirit of entrepreneurism that Dank Dogs brought to the city and believes that could be duplicated through other prospective vendors.

“I would hate to see someone’s entrepreneurship spirit broken,” Thompson said.

Two years ago, Clemson City Council approved an ordinance allowing, with restrictions, certain sidewalk vendors to set up in four locations — in front of the Planning and Codes Office, Jaycee Park, Larry W. Abernathy Waterfront Park and the Catherine Smith Plaza.

The ordinance, spurred by a request from Dank Dogs, allowed each sidewalk vendor to operate as a franchise — responsible for paying a franchise fee and subject to renewal on an annual basis. The vendors are not allowed to set up a canopy on city streets and must sell items from a specified cart required for removal after operating hours.

In addition, vendors are subject to Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) regulations as well as the same food and beverage licensing as any other portable vendor.

While the lease Dank Dogs operated under for a year ultimately expired and the vendor remained inactive for a year, they received a reissuance last year as the result of two ordinance readings approved by council.

Cotton said downtown businesses have complained of littering by customers of the hot dog vendor. “People would eat hot dogs and throw down wrappers.”