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Nine on Nine: Hot Dog Heaven

The Laker - August 31, 2011





Hotdogs are about as all American as one can get. If you happen to be in Wolfeboro via car or boat, make a point to stop by a unique little business that has become a fixture in the town over the years. For many, summer just isn’t summer without a New York hotdog from Hot Dog Bob’s. The colorful little hotdog cart is set up near the bandstand at the Wolfeboro town docks, and Bob Dolengewickz welcomes back repeat customers year after year. You’ll know you’ve found Bob when you smell the hotdogs and hear his booming laughter ringing in the air.

 

1. How long have you lived in the Lakes Region/NH and what brought you here?

Bob: “I have lived here for 15 years. My wife and I camped at Ellacoya State Park in a motor home, then we saw Wolfeboro and that was even more spectacular! We were living in Howard Beach, Queens at the time and decided to move here. We are semi retired here, but we keep very busy. We bought an apartment building in Wolfeboro and that keeps me busy in the off season when I am not running the hotdog cart.”

 

2. Can you describe your job as owner of your business, because it is a rather unusual occupation?

Bob: “I just sit there (at the Wolfeboro Town Docks) and talk to people from all over the world who stop by my hotdog cart. They come from France, Australia, China, you name it. It’s a pleasure to talk to all these people. They are all my friends – they come back every year. I’m just a hotdog guy. I sell New York hotdogs (you have to go 350 miles to get them from NY because no one else around here has them). I go to New York to get the Italian ices and hotdogs that people love. I go once or twice a year to New York to get supplies. I sell hotdogs, New York Italian ices, sodas, chips and lemonade and freshly popped popcorn. I am open weekends May and June and seven days a week in July and August. And I have the hotdog cart open weekends in the fall.”

 

3. How long have you owned and run the hot dog cart and have you changed anything over time?

Bob: “I’ve been running the hotdog cart for 14 years; all the food on the menu is the same as it was 14 years ago.”

 

 4. What’s it really like to own and run a busy hotdog cart in the summer on Lake Winnipesaukee?

Bob: “It’s mind boggling! People say it’s an easy job, but there is a lot of prep work. I get up early and prep and then clean everything after we close. It takes quite a few hours in the morning to set up, then to get supplies. My wife helps me.”

 

 5. Tell me about your background; where did you grow up, what was your occupation before this and what led you to decide to run a hotdog cart?

Bob: “I grew up in Jamaica, Queens. I was a transmission mechanic for 25 years for Aamco Transmissions. We came up here to semi-retire.”

 

6. Do you have any interesting stories of customers who come to your cart?

Bob: “Actually, one of my customers saved a lady who was on a boat and fell in the water. My customer said ‘Hey Bob, we got one in the water!’ She came back later to thank me. Someone wrote online that Bob is doing baptisms by the lake after that and I got a lot of teasing!”

 

7. What are your favorite seasons in the Lakes Region; can you also tell me what your favorite times of year are for the fairs?

Bob: “I love them all, but summer especially because I get to meet so many different people. I remember all the names of the repeat customers. I love the winter; I decorate the house and I made the front page of the local paper for my decorations.”

 

8. Where do your customers come from and what do they like best about your hotdogs?

Bob: “They like the hotdogs because they are flavorful. The hotdogs I sell come with all the toppings: onions, sauerkraut. You can feed a family of four for $10.00. My uncle was a hotdog salesman in NY and it was fun to work with him back then so I was already familiar with the business.”

 

 9. Was it difficult to get started – to get the hotdog cart, the licensing, and to find a great spot to set up?

Bob: “I had knowledge of it because of my uncle. Everybody was nice up here in NH and helped me get the permits. I went online and found someone who makes carts for Disney. He made the cart for me.”

 

10. What do you do in the winter months when all the tourists are gone?

Bob: “(Laughing) I send the wife to work! Seriously, I have an apartment building so that keeps me busy. If I had to pay someone to do any necessary repairs it would be expensive.”

 

11. We’ve just gone through a recession – has that increased your business because a hotdog is a less expensive meal?

Bob: “It has because it’s less expensive. And folks like to eat near or on the lake!”

 

12. What does your family think of you running such an unusual business?

Bob: “They like it; I have two boys, a 15-year-old and a 27-year-old.”

 

13. Are you excited when summer rolls around each year and you know you will be getting out the hotdog stand and how do you feel by the end of the season?

Bob: “I look forward to summer. When my customers see that I am set up at the town docks, they tell me they dreamed of having a hotdog all winter. By the end of the season, I don’t really look forward to putting the cart away because I really love what I do.”

 

14. What is your favorite meal?

Bob: “Hotdogs of course with mustard and ketchup.”

 

15. What do you think the Lakes Region will be like 10 years from now? Still going strong? Bigger, smaller?

Bob: “I think when Mitt Romney becomes president it will be another Kennebunkport. That will increase business He was just over to my cart get a hotdog the other day.”

 

16. What are your future plans?

Bob: “Just keep on selling hotdogs and keep meeting people. This job never gets boring!” 

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