Nashville Gem: Dawg Daze
Pineapples, mangoes, and red pepper salsa.
Peanut butter and Sriracha sauce.
Not your typical hot dog toppings, but Dawg Daze is not your typical hot dog truck. It’s 22-feet long with a paint job that can only be described as tie-dye. It’s not subtle.
Meet Jim and Amber Farmer. They started Dawg Days almost three years ago. They like spending time with family, playing dominoes, grilling, and love dogs — they have 4 (adorable) rescues.
How did Dawg Daze get started?
My father was a huge hot dog fan. It’s what he wanted to eat pretty much 5 out of the 7 days in the week. In fact, my father passed away, and his very last meal was a hot dog. I had gotten tired of managing retail businesses, so I decided to go out on a limb and start a hot dog truck.
So hot dogs have been part of your family?
Oh yea. My mom still works the truck with me. My wife helps me out on weekends or if we have a big event. Very much a part of my family.
So what is a typical day like in the truck?
During the week we go to different office parks. Around here there are a lot of places that only have 30-minute lunch breaks. Nashville has grown so much, which means lots of traffic and construction. 30-minutes isn’t enough time to get out, drive some place, and eat your food. So it’s great to be able to go to an office park and offer a quick bite to eat.
On the weekends you have your festivals, school events, we even do catering. We stay really busy, in fact, it’s only August but we’re booked all the way through November.
Your menu is crazy. Not at all the typical hot dog. How did that happen?
We try to run 10 different hot dogs on the menu. Some are mainstays, and others rotate on and off.
Our most popular has to be the Hippie Dawg: Bacon, peanut butter, and Sriracha. It started when a food critic from Portland, OR came down and met us at a festival. He said “This is what’s taking off up there right now, and if you don’t try it… you’re stupid.”
I was skeptical, but thought “Alright,” and tried it. I was still unsure so I started handing out samples and people loved it. So, I put it on the menu and the rest is history.
Of course, you can’t go wrong with a chili dog. It’s such a classic.
What would you say is the hardest part of working in a food truck?
When it gets to be 125 degrees! Like I said, I work with my mom and a Sunday school teacher. They’re both over 60. They have so much patience. I never hear them complain or speak a negative word. You have to have that when you’re in a food truck because the kitchen is right there. If an employee complains the customer is right there.
Time management is hard, too. For example, if you have two events on the same day, you have to figure out travel time, restock time, figure in traffic – there is a lot of coordination that goes into it.
125 degrees… so what makes it all worth it for you?
The freedom and getting to meet all these different people. I drive a hippie truck, play lots of 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s rock-n-roll. I have people who walk by, hear the music, then get in line to wait 30 minutes. It’s incredible.
Has Nashville been a supportive place to start a business?
I’m part of the Food Truck Association. There are about 80 trucks in the association: we do events together and help each other out. Say you called me and want me to come to your office, but I’m booked. I’ll refer some of the other trucks, and they do the same for me. It’s a very supportive group and we’re always looking to help each other out.
We also get a lot of community support. The Mayor, Megan Barry, has been a huge supporter of food trucks. She works hard to get us places to park, and it was her idea to have trucks park outside of the government buildings on Thursdays so all government employees could grab lunch.
What is the best financial advice you’ve been given?
Honestly, stay away from credit. Pay for things in cash. If you can’t, then you can’t afford it.
You do need some kind of credit, of course. You need that credit history for big purchases, but you should do everything you can to stay debt free. Pay it off every month. Don’t get in over your head. Live within your means.
Also, start saving early. We were all that dumb 18-19-20 year old. Going out and partying. But in 20 years you’re going to have a house note. Going to have bills. Going to have insurance to pay for.
Go ahead and start putting money away, so in case something does happen, you have money to fall back on.
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