Selling hot dogs is all about being his own boss

Owner of One of a Kind, who is also a nursing home caregiver, says operating a food cart in Port Washington allows him to realize his dream

FRED PUGH, who showed off one of the 9-inch, all beef hot dogs he serves, had his One of a Kind food cart set up in the parking lot of Dollar General on Wisconsin Street in Port Washington last week. Pugh, who also is a nursing home caregiver, moves his cart to different locations in the city throughout the week. Photo by Sam Arendt


Ozaukee Press staff

Hot dogs are a staple of summer barbecues, and they are the specialty served up by Port Washington’s newest food vendor.

One of a Kind is a mobile hot dog stand operated by Fred Pugh, who is a caregiver at Heritage Health Services in Port in the off season.

There are plenty of differences between his two careers, but for Pugh, the most important one is that when he’s selling hot dogs, he’s his own boss.

“I’m investing in me,” he said. “It’s about being a small business owner.”

Pugh, who has lived in Port with his girlfriend Courtney Tomaszewski for the last year, said he’s always wanted to control his own fate.

“Nobody else is going to believe in you like you do,” he said. “Why not take a chance on yourself?”

Last year, he decided to take the plunge and invest in a business for himself, Pugh said.

“I thought I could take this money (he had saved) and go to Florida or Las Vegas, or I could invest in myself,” he said.

“I thought, ‘What could I do?’ Then I said, ‘I’m going to get a hot dog cart.’”

He spent $13,000 on his cart, took a leave of absence from Heritage and went into business.

None of this would have been possible except for the support of Tomaszewski.

“If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have been in this position,” he said. “She made it all happen for me.

Pugh said he likes hot dogs, but that wasn’t the underlying reason he purchased the cart — it was all about becoming his own boss.

“I thought, why not give it a chance,” he said.

He’s on leave from Heritage until Nov. 1, and plans to spend his winter months working as a caregiver and his summertimes operating his cart.

“There may be a point I don’t have to be a caregiver anymore,” he said.

When interviewed last Friday, Pugh said he was on day 18 of being his own boss.

“I love it,” he said. “If I sell one hot dog or 100, I love it.”

He parks his cart at different locations around Port Washington — generally at Drew’s True Value on Mondays through Thursdays, Dollar General on Fridays and downtown, either at the marina or Harborview Dry Cleaners on weekends.

“I try to switch it up,” Pugh said, adding he’s working on finding other locations as well, particularly downtown.

He’s also taken the cart to community events, such as the Fourth of July festivities in Veterans Park and the recent Friday Night Flicks in the park.

His menu is simple — hot dogs and Polish sausages, augmented with brats on Saturdays, as well as condiments, chips, granola bars and beverages.

The dogs are all-beef, 9-inch hot dogs, and they’re the most popular item on the menu, he said, although “a lot of people are starting to like the Polish sausages, too.”

And although there are people who swear the only way to eat a hot dog is with mustard and never ketchup, Pugh said the way people fix up their hot dogs varies.

“Some people load it up. They want to make it Chicago style,” he said. “Others like it plain.”

Pugh is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, although he notes that he hasn’t left by 2 p.m. yet.

“It’s usually 3:30 or 4 p.m. when I leave,” he said.

And although the cart opens at 10 a.m., he’s put hours of work in before that time. Pugh said he usually is up by 4:30 a.m. prepping for the day, cutting up condiments and getting ready.

He generally arrives at the site for the day to set up around 7 a.m., Pugh said, noting it takes about an hour to get ready.

“I like to give myself time,” he said. “When you rush, you make mistakes.”

He relaxes and meditates before customers begin to arrive.

He boils his sausages and hot dogs and keeps them warm, and when a customer orders one he will grill it to add a little char and smoky flavor.

There’s no typical day, Pugh said.

“I can sell 20 some days, 40 some days, 60 some days,” he said. “Today, I haven’t sold one yet.”

There are no guarantees in his business, Pugh said.

“It’s not McDonald’s,” he noted.

He uses fresh products every day, Pugh said, so he tries to gauge how much to prepare.

One night, he said, he had set up shop near Rascal’s in downtown Port and gave the third-shift police officers the 20 hot dogs and two packs of buns that were left.

“I took care of them and fed them,” he said.

If it’s raining, Pugh said, he doesn’t set up.

“There’s no point,” he said, and if it’s hot and sunny, he has an umbrella to shade  him.

“If it’s slow, I just hang out and try again the next day. You’ve got to make it work,” he said. “You’ve got to take chances.”

Pugh has a Facebook page, and posts where he will be each day so his customers know where to find him.



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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