Dirty Hot Dog Vendors Avoid Cleaning Up By Changing Their Names

If you are served a 7-foot-tall anthropomorphic hot dog with a permagrin, then the odds are you purchased a mascot and not a quick lunch. (Matthew Hunt)

If you are served a 7-foot-tall anthropomorphic hot dog with a permagrin, then the odds are you purchased a mascot and not a quick lunch. (Matthew Hunt)

Look, we all know that there is a certain level of self-delusion involved every time we buy a hot dog from a street vendor, but we’d like to believe that any street-meat seller whose lack of cleanliness merits multiple Dept. of Health violations would be put out of business. Which is sort of true, in that the sketchy hot dog dealer merely can merely resurrect his business under a new name with a new license.

New York City requires street vendors to renew their licenses every two years, but those with four unpaid violations are blocked from renewing. However, that hasn’t stopped some sellers from continuing to ply their trade.

The NY Post has the story of one particularly vile vendor who racked up 64 unpaid citations worth nearly $48,000 before being shut down for good.

See, rather than pay violations — or, heaven forbid, maintain carts that don’t result in violations — this wiener-selling wienie and others have learned how to game the system by simply applying for a new license.

Perhaps that’s why the city only managed to collect on 25% of the $4.8 million in fines levied against street vendors last year.

“Vendors have tried to get a license under a new name rather than fix violations or pay accumulated fines, and detecting this type of fraud is difficult,” the Dept. of Health admitted to the Post.

A vendor’s license is given to the person who actually handles the food and operates the cart. NYC does put a limit on the number of licenses available at any given time. The license is separate from the Dept. of Health permit for the actual food cart. The city has a limit of around 3,000 such permits, so the person working the cart is not always the permit-holder.

In an effort to crack down on scofflaw vendors, the city has recently begun issuing violations to the permit-holder, as opposed to the vendor on duty. Given the relative scarcity of permits and the potential income loss if one is taken away, the city hopes this will convince sellers of hot dogs and other street foods to actually pay up when they are violated (or, again, not do things to merit a violation in the first place).