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EDITORIAL: Minnesota regulators help teen keep hot dog stand open

Updated September 6, 2019 - 11:13 pm

Stories about budding entrepreneurs getting squeezed by ridiculous and costly licensing regulations could fill an encyclopedia. Thankfully, some of these tales have happy endings. Consider an enterprising Minnesota teen who opened his own hot dog stand.

This summer, 13-year-old Jaequan Faulkner launched a business selling hot dogs, chips and sodas from a stand in front of his house. His business was popular, attracting a good crowd from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each weekday. Then someone complained via email to the Minneapolis Health Department.

As CNBC explains, the complaint wasn’t without merit. Mr. Faulkner was technically operating his stand without a license. But then, like a unicorn, a rational bureaucrat appeared.

“Before responding to the complaint,” Dan Huff, environmental health director of the department, said, “what we did was put on hold our response until we could figure out how to help him.”

Impressed with young Mr. Faulkner’s initiative, health inspectors decided to teach him about proper food handling techniques so he could get his hot dog stand up to code. After the teenager took their advice and the stand passed inspection, the inspectors gladly paid the $87 fee for Jaequan’s short-term permit out of their own pockets. After that, business exploded.

“It just took off,” said Jaequan’s uncle, Jerome Faulkner. “He never gave up and he kept pushing forward. And pushing me along, pulling me along with him.”

Jerome Faulkner helped his nephew serve between 100 and 150 hot dogs a day until school started again. Jaequan would take orders and work the cash register while Jerome prepared the food, CNBC reports.

“It’s not easy working for a 13-year-old,” Jerome joked to the network. “He just says ‘I need this, I need that,’ and I just get it for him while he controls the cash register. He knows the cash register pretty well.”

Eventually, the teen appeared on the Steve Harvey Show, where Shark Tank’s Daymond John presented him with a new hot dog stand, which the teen used for the rest of the summer. Jaequan used much of his earnings to buy school clothes, and has bigger plans for his business. He eventually wants to open a small restaurant in a permanent spot. He also wants to motivate other kids to do what he did.

“My hope this year is to be an inspiration,” he told NBC affiliate KARE-TV. “I want to inspire other young teens that live in north Minneapolis.”

It’s pretty amazing what a little inspiration can do, isn’t it? Kudos to everyone involved in this story.

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