Little hot dog cart, big drama: Wandering Wieners struggles to get back on track

We made kind of a big deal about Wandering Wieners when we first found out about the Cal Anderson Park hot dog cart. It hit all the right spots. Independent, affordable, street.

But you may have noticed WW hasn’t been in the park much lately. Owner Andrea Utley said her little business is struggling but not because people don’t want to buy hot dogs from the park’s sole licensed food vendor.

“We’ve dissolved the partnership behind the business,” Utley said.

This article from the Seattle University student newspaper tells some of the story of how WW came to be. Utley brought her experience running Wandering Wieners in Montana to the big city of Seattle. She decided to partner, she said, to help run the business and create a work schedule to allow the single mother to spend time with her two daughters. But partnering only brought problems.

“There were too many hands in the cookie jar and I didn’t have any ownership of my business anymore,” Utley said.

Now she is trying to pull things together on her own again. There is a money dispute with two of the former partners and another person previously involved with the business still controls her Wandering Wieners Web site domain, Facebook account and first Twitter account. Andrea has since created a new, legit Wandering Wieners account @wanderingwieners to spread the word about her business — and, she says, fend off some of the nasty messages still being sent out on the other account.

She is planning to open the stand when she can but right now scheduling is a problem. She’s looking for help running the business but more as an employee than a business partner, for now. And she could use some help on the legal front if somebody would like to get involved with a case representing a hot dog stand and a single mother entrepreneur trying to keep a tiny business alive.

“I would love some help. I’m in the hole,” Utley said. “I have to move and I don’t want to move. Everything is gross right now.”

But Utley said she is looking forward to digging back in and making Wandering Wieners a success. “I’ll be out there on the 4th of July,” she said. “It’s only a hot dog cart. There were too many people involved. Now it’s just me.”

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11 thoughts on “Little hot dog cart, big drama: Wandering Wieners struggles to get back on track

  1. I wish her the best of luck. It’s always better to have less chefs in the Weiner shop.

    If my current deal falls through, I’ll gladly lend my services. I can grill a mean dog.

  2. The Park needs to pull her permit if she can’t deliver food.

    There are thousands of people at that park every day, some cart food is needed. Sorry this person is in over her head but that is really just her problem completely. By the way, she owns the cart, she operates the cart 10 hours a day … what is wrong with that? It is the formula for all small business since time and eternity … from farmers markets to bazaars to food carts.

    Not much sympathy here. That card is all full for real problems, like a friend who is dying, and tons of people out of work.

  3. You’re just a big bummer, Mike With Curls. I can tell it’s going to be your comment after about 3 words–wiser-and-more-realistic-than-thou-b.s.– Oh! He’s tearing someone down! Must be MWC! Talk about boo-hoo-hoo.

    (I don’t really have an opinion on the hot dog stand, I must admit. Don’t have enough info. Don’t usually buy dogs.)

  4. You did not read my post … as much as I can hope this venodor solves her problems, the REAL problem for me and thousands of park users is a lack of food at Cal Anderson park.

    So, I comment on that aspect of things.

    I go through the park several times a day and have wondered what happened to the food vendor idea … course, I guess we can just wait a couple more years.

    Vendors pay the parks some money and the funding is of use to keep the park operating, esp. in tight budget times. Another strong reason to get more vending going, every day, and keep the personal saga out of it.

    Jane, I am the most positive upbeat friendly person in the world. But, I excel at problem solving, and for me, this is just a problem to be solved.

    Cheers, Mike

  5. Well, thank you for clarifying. I just needed one positive message from MWC. From now on I will picture you with a gentle chuckle and a shake of the head instead of the had-it-up-to-here-with-all-you-idiots Eeyore figure I had for you up to now. As you were. :-)

  6. Thank you soooo much for writing this article. It’s perfect. Come down and get a hot dog already! I would love to meet the genius “behind the desk.”

  7. I’m sure this problem for you and THOUSANDS of others isn’t has dramatic as you make everything out to be.

    – Bring your own dam food to the park.
    – Walk across the street and pick up some food.

  8. At any major park I have ever seen there are multiple food vendors…

    Bring my own food, sure. One solution.

    Go to where??? Odd fellows, maybe, and the Taco place maybe.

    Hot dogs sound just right. You dear Cross Mary, might be amazed at the use numbers at Cal Anderson … do you live near?

  9. hot dogs are gross anyway. lips, assholes, bones, hooves, intestines and whatever else thy can scoop up off the slaughterhouse floor………sound tasty?