Hot Dog! 13-Year-Old Keeps His Stand Open With Help Of Minneapolis Health Department Jaequan Faulkner's fledgling hot dog stand in Minneapolis was almost shut down when someone called the city's health department. But, instead, the health department worked to get his stand up to code, and now he's back in business.
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Hot Dog! 13-Year-Old Keeps His Stand Open With Help Of Minneapolis Health Department

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Hot Dog! 13-Year-Old Keeps His Stand Open With Help Of Minneapolis Health Department

Hot Dog! 13-Year-Old Keeps His Stand Open With Help Of Minneapolis Health Department

Hot Dog! 13-Year-Old Keeps His Stand Open With Help Of Minneapolis Health Department

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/632019344/632019378" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Jaequan Faulkner's fledgling hot dog stand in Minneapolis was almost shut down when someone called the city's health department. But, instead, the health department worked to get his stand up to code, and now he's back in business.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

A lot of teenagers spend the summer trying to earn a few extra dollars. In Minneapolis, 13-year-old Jaequan Faulkner runs a hot dog stand that has gotten a lot of attention. We learned about him from a story in The Star Tribune. And when I gave him a call, Faulkner was at his stand just setting up for business. I asked him to describe what I would see if I visited.

JAEQUAN FAULKNER: Well, you would see a green tent with chips, hot dogs, a cash register and a crock pot on it with some buns, napkins. And you would just see me with a smile on my face ready to serve you.

SHAPIRO: Faulkner has been selling hot dogs at his stand for a couple of summers now, and this year, someone called the city health department to complain. Faulkner didn't have a permit. The health department didn't make him shut the stand down. Instead, they linked Faulkner with a local business development group, and they said they wanted to help him succeed.

JAEQUAN: They had said, you don't even got to worry about it. We're going to help you get your license. And we're just going to help you actually grow.

SHAPIRO: The health inspectors helped Faulkner get certified to operate the hot dog stand. They even paid the $87 for a permit. I asked Faulkner to explain how that happened.

JAEQUAN: Well, actually Ryan and Huff...

SHAPIRO: Huff - that's Minneapolis environmental health director Dan Huff.

JAEQUAN: But they work with the health department, and they - when we had - when we went to go meet Ryan, he was a nice guy. He showed us around the place and took me to get my license. But then what I didn't know was to get - when I go there, I didn't - I didn't have to, you know, pay no money. When I was there, Huff already paid it. He just said, when you get here, don't worry about it. It's already paid for him. He just get his permit.

SHAPIRO: Wow.

JAEQUAN: And I had figured out when it was on the news that he had said he paid it.

SHAPIRO: Oh, it was only when you were on the news that you found out that somebody else had paid the fee for you.

JAEQUAN: Yes.

SHAPIRO: How'd that make you feel?

JAEQUAN: It had made me feel kind of excited and, like, I was just like, wow. I had people on my side that I didn't even know.

SHAPIRO: What kind of changes did you have to make to be an official business? Were there things that they made you add to the hot dog stand?

JAEQUAN: They made me add a washing station where I can wash my hands. It's where, if I drop my tongs, I can wash those off.

SHAPIRO: What else?

JAEQUAN: They made me take away tomatoes. They made me take away cheese because it was a violation.

SHAPIRO: Are you going to have to give this up when you go back to school in the fall?

JAEQUAN: Actually, I'm hoping not. What I'm going to do is the first two weeks of school, I'm going to see how - like, what time I get off, and I'm going to have my uncle set up around that time. And when he set up, I'll be off school by now, and I'm ready to - we're ready to open.

SHAPIRO: So you're going to try to keep doing this during the school year.

JAEQUAN: Yes.

SHAPIRO: What grade are you going to be?

JAEQUAN: I'm going into eighth grade.

SHAPIRO: Do you know anybody else in your eighth grade class who has a business like this?

JAEQUAN: Actually, no.

SHAPIRO: What do you love about doing this?

JAEQUAN: Me - the reason why I started it is because I love building. Like, building's just my favorite. So I love building, and I like having my own things. So this goes together perfect. So when I get older, I was hoping I can be an architect and design my own buildings and, like, design my own hot dog buildings and be having people - some people managing those.

SHAPIRO: Last question - what do you put on your hot dogs when you're going to eat one yourself?

JAEQUAN: I actually make a Chicago-style hot dog.

SHAPIRO: Describe what goes on a Chicago-style hot dog. It's what I ate growing up. My mom is from Chicago. But what do you put on a Chicago-style hot dog?

JAEQUAN: What I put on it is I put some onions, I put a little relish - it depends - I put a little jalapenos, I put some mustard on it. I don't really like ketchup, so I can't put that on it.

SHAPIRO: Never, ever ketchup. No ketchup on the hot dog.

JAEQUAN: Yeah, no ketchup.

SHAPIRO: Jaequan, thank you so much for talking with us.

JAEQUAN: Thank you.

SHAPIRO: Jaequan Faulkner is the 13-year-old owner and operator of Mr. Faulkner's Old-Fashioned Hot Dogs in Minneapolis.

(SOUNDBITE OF MARK MOTHERSBAUGH'S "LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT MY BOAT")

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