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A war for weiners November 30, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Restaurants.
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KSPR-TV in Springfield, Mo., reported an interesting conflict between two streetside hot-dog vendors operating in the city’s downtown and an ordinance that threatens to shut one of them down.

Pete Sterpe decided to start a business, Route 66 Hot Dogs, about a year ago. He chose a spot on the sidewalk where to sell them. Then …

Then, some confusion with city code, stopped his cart in its tracks.

“Two people can’t work with in that area at the same time,” says Sterpe.

“I don’t think it would be in the betterment of any business involved,” says Jeff Bear, who owns City Dogs.

Bear sometimes sets up his cart in front of the Heer’s building.

“If he’s there within 300 feet, then I can’t work there. Period,” says Sterpe.

According to city code, two street vendors can’t operate within 300 feet of each other. Sterpe and Bear’s spots are 270 feet apart.

“We put the 300 in there to separate out the hot dog vendors a little farther because we did have some complaints about them locating too close to each other and they felt that was unfair competition,” says Assistant City Attorney Nancy Yendes. [...]

The city says it will look at lowering the distance required between vendors. That would mean traffic studies and a bill to go before city council.

If it goes to council, the city says, it could be changed as early as next spring.

The ordinance seems to be a slap in the face of the free enterprise system. If two hot-dog vendors are in the vicinity, let them battle it out, and may the vendor with the best product — and, presumably, the most revenue — win. At the least, it seems unfair that a mere 30 feet would threaten a man’s livelihood.

Here’s the big kicker: Bear helped write the ordinance. Doesn’t anyone else see a conflict of interest there?

Comments»

1. DynoDave - December 1, 2009

“We put the 300 in there to separate out the hot dog vendors a little farther because we did have some complaints about them locating too close to each other and they felt that was unfair competition,” says Assistant City Attorney Nancy Yendes. [...]

“they felt that was unfair competition”…what does that mean? Unfair competition? If there’s a bar on that street, does that mean someone can’t open a bar in an adjacent building? If there’s a restaurant, no other restaurant next door? A law like this would close a couple of businesses in my small town business district. I don’t see why street vendors should be treated any differently.

I think if there are good logistical reasons for setting up at 270′, then allowance should be made.

Ron - December 1, 2009

Yep, Dave, there are lot of weird contentions being made about that ordinance.

2. Trevor Hilton - December 1, 2009

Why don’t they just form a partnership? Perhaps, they could be the next Cozy Dog or something?

3. Sal Paradise - December 1, 2009

I was waiting for your comment about Bear writing the law. It at first blush seemed like a home-team rule put in to reduce competition. I bet the complaints also came from Bear or his buddies. Here in DC we have hot dog vendors coming out the wazoo, all over the place. They are mostly entirely run by recent immigrants who work for some hot-dog cart king and aren’t really privately owned. So, they manage to all do business and there is competition, which keeps the prices down. The Route 66 dog guy should challenge the law based on safety reasons and make this Bear guy prove the impossible; that 300 feet is needed for ‘safety’. Unable to do that the Route 66 dog guy should then ask for the rule to be changed or thrown out until the city can define what safety is. I hate guys like Bear, who use that home team advantage to screw others. Good luck to the Route 66 dog guy.


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