The first thing one may notice about Buckley’s newest eatery is the pair of anthropomorphic frankfurters standing in the gravel near the intersection of state Route 410 and Mundy Loss Road, pouring ketchup on themselves and licking their lips. The second thing one may notice is that it’s surrounded by a used car lot and an auto wrecking yard far from the downtown area, and the establishment is itself on wheels.
But Dave’s 21 Dogs is shaping up to be one of the more popular stops in Buckley since it opened shop in July. The hot dog stand, owned by Bonney Lake couple David Koroski and Danielle Woods, is based out of a food service truck parked in the lot of Koroski’s primary business, Dave’s Deals on Wheels.
“It’s always been my dream to sell hot dogs,” Koroski said.
Hot dogs were a $1.6 billion industry in 2009, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. The hot dog industry had growth level of 2 percent in recession-plagued 2008, possibly due to cost-conscious Americans trading down”in their eating out habits.
Start-up funds required for a mobile food service are typically significantly lower than restaurant start-ups, which run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Koroski estimated his and Woods’s start-up costs at $50,000, a figure which includes the cost to purchase a catering truck, bring it up to health code, repaint it and open for business.
Returns have been variable, but regular. On a slow day, the truck sells four 14-dog packs of hot dogs, but brisk business days see sales of 150 dogs, which doesn’t include other food item sales like drinks, French fries and onion rings. At just under $4 for the average hot dog, those base sales roughly translate to a daily gross income of $232 to $600, meaning the business could cover its initial investment and see a profit within a year.
Both owners bring prior food service management experience to the table: Koroski was once the owner of the Carbonado Saloon.
More than six months of planning led up to the business’s July opening date, including truck acquisition, permit acquisition and menu planning.
“We watch a lot of food-based TV shows, including ‘Hot Dog Paradise,’” Woods said. “So we spent a lot of time in our kitchen tweaking recipes we learned about there or elsewhere.”
Of the 21 variations on the basic hot dog, most are existing recipes and three are originals, the latter including the Cour-Dog-Bleu, the French Dog and the Toronto Dog. They plan to add more originals: one item in the works is an Italian hot dog prepared with Provolone cheese and marinara sauce.
“We just think of what flavors we would like and figure out how we can make that a product,” Woods said.
Dave’s 21 Dogs will remain open year round. The truck will be parked in the lot of Dave’s Deals on Wheels at 27815 state Route 410 E, except when it caters to Friday night football at White River High School.