Some video segments show more than one way to build certain components. By watching the whole presentation, you will be able to make a decision as to what will work best for you when you reach that point.

We purposely designed this project to be easily built by anyone, regardless of skill level or ability. In the videos I treat every topic as though the builder knows nothing. Too much information is always better than too little.

Congratulations! You are about to start a fun and simple project that, when finished, has the potential to make you hundreds of thousands of dollars.

When properly cared for, the E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart should last a lifetime. Since you are the one who built it, you will know exactly how to repair it if necessary, saving you countless dollars in labor and down time.

There is no welding or other special skills involved, and the entire cart can be built using the most common hand and power tools that just about every one owns.

The parts are easily obtainable locally, or for those of you in remote areas, on the internet. Sources for all parts are listed in the Bill

BURNERS The 2 burner camp stove that you will see in the videos has been discontinued by Harbor Freight tools. No worries, we found another one that will work fine. We show you this new stove and how to modify it to work even better in the videos. You will see it when you get to the videos on constructing the firebox.

TRAILERS The E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart is designed to be built on a common utility trailer. We recommend a specific kit trailer, however we realize that many of you may already own a trailer, or may be able to purchase a used trailer locally at a large savings. For this reason, the plans only include certain critical dimensions that are not affected by the size of the trailer, such as steam table dimensions. In the videos you will see how to measure for the other dimensions.

STEAM PAN BASICS  Reading this guide to steam pans (part of the Hot Dog Biz 101 course) will clear up a lot of questions when you start building your firebox.

LUMBER  The frame of the E-Z Built is made from 2 x 2 lumber. Note that a 2 x 2 from the lumberyard actually measures 1 ½” x 1 ½”. This is what we will be using for this project.

This is important if you can’t find 2 x 2s locally. You may think you can make your own by ripping 2x4s down the middle, but be aware that the resulting lumber will be 1 ½” x 1 ¾”. This will really mess you up! If this is your only option, set up a table saw with the fence 1 ½” from the blade and rip your lumber to proper size.

You do not need to use flame retardant wood. The firebox is vented in such a way that the wood stays very cool.

Also be sure to sight down the length of your lumber to check for warped or twisted boards. We only want the straight ones. A little time spent sorting your lumber will pay big dividends during construction.

You will see that I used as sheet of OSB for the floor of my cart. The only reason I used it was because I had a sheet of it left over from another project. You would probably be happier using plywood.

HEALTH DEPARTMENT CONSIDERATIONS The E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart is designed to be easily modified during construction in order to comply with the various health codes found across the country. For example, some counties require only one sink and cold running water. Others require up to four sinks with hot and cold running water. In this package, you will find schematics for each of four different sink set-ups. You will use the appropriate schematic to get your cart approved by your local health department.

Hot Dog Biz 101 contains a wealth of information about how to find out what your local codes are, how to get through the sometimes difficult health inspection process, and how to make your health inspector fall in love with you. If you have never run a mobile food business before, Hot Dog Biz 101 will get you up to speed quickly.

***Do not start construction before you know what your local health department requires. After you watch all four videos, call or visit your health department and an inspector will tell you what features you need to pass inspection. You may find that you don’t need hot water, saving yourself the time and expense of installing a water heater. On the other hand, installing hot water may help you pass inspections if you travel to fairs and festivals in other counties with stricter health codes in the future.

DISCLAIMER This information is distributed with the understanding that the author and publisher are not engaged in rendering engineering, safety, legal, accounting, or other professional advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. Also note that this information in no way guarantees any specific amount of money to be made and the author cannot be held responsible for any actions that you may take. The information shared in this package is the result of my experience in the hot dog vending business. This represents my best knowledge of workable methods. There is no way to guarantee that the information will apply to your particular type of application. However, the information that follows does have a proven track record and is supplied to provide you with guidance. It is the user's sole responsibility to determine the applicability of the material to his or her use, and the author and publisher assume no responsibility for situations which may arise from the user's application of this material to his or her own business. The business owner is solely responsible for determining compliance with any and all local, state, and federal laws, regulations, and/or codes. The author assumes no responsibility or liability for any injury and/or damage to persons and/or property arising from the implementation of material contained in this publication.


      1. The metal version uses the wooden construction, then you laminate thin sheet metal skins over the wood. You’ll find video instructions in the “Metal Secrets” video.

        The cart could be built in 100% metal if you have welding and sheet metal skills. Some of my students have done so with nice results.

        I recommend the wooden construction. It is strong, light, long lasting, and is easy enough for anyone to build.

    1. Codes vary from location to location but I’ve never heard of a specific “fire box code”. In very rare cases you may need to get an inspection from the fire department but you’ll pass easily. Refer to the Hot Dog Biz 101 course for the inside scoop on the inspection process and how to get certain requirements waived.

  1. Hi Steve, I feel indebted to you already. I hope this is going to be a very long and profitable alliance. You have become my mentor, and I am truly thankful. I live iin Ireland by the way.

    1. I take that responsibility very seriously Terry. I’m here to answer any questions you have as you move through the course. Just let me know. Ireland? Very cool!

  2. .OK….I’ve finally done it! I’m fired up to get started but must admit a little (no a lot) nervous about putting this cart together. It’s good to know that I have so many folks to go to if I run into a snag. Thanks so much Steve for sharing your knowledge. I have been wanting to get into the hot dog business for some time and have followed your blog for a long time. Ok…gotta go get started on MY future. Look out world…Papa George’s Chicago Style Hot Dogs is about to be born (LOL)

  3. I just bought a cart but I cant wait to build my own with my son and become a hot dog legend! thanks for the opportunity and endless coaching points. you rock!

    1. We recommend the 40″ x 49″ trailer with 8″ wheels from Harbor Freight Tools. item#42708
      Check out the bill of materials for sources on everything. Enjoy your build.

  4. I’m very excited to be on board! I guess you don’t get very many ladies building their own carts, eh! LOL A mama’s gotta do what a mama’s gotta do! I hope this is a easy as you say it is! 🙂

  5. Anyone in the Chicago area! I am in the South Suburbs (Cook County)! that has determine what the Health Dept requirements are? I thought I would check and see if someone father along may have already figured this out?



    1. Here is the best tip I could ever give you: NEVER ask another vendor what the health codes are. You will undoubtedly get some mis-information, not intentionally – but I guarantee you will.

      ALWAYS talk to your personal inspector yourself. Your inspector has the leeway to interpret the code as he sees fit, and if you get off on the right foot he will probably be willing to work with you on a few “requirements”.

      Click here and read Chapters 17 and 18 for all the information on health codes and inspections that you will ever need.

  6. I’ve just been cleared by the health department to build. I am excited by this. Planned opening is scheduled for the spring which isn’t too far off.

    I’ve been wanting to ask why more hot dog carts aren’t set up for fountain drinks as the profit is much better then canned sodas?

    1. No real reason Charles, other than the initial cost of equipment. You are right about the high margins for sure. Send pics of your setup when you finish it!

    1. Yes, we have had many FL students build E-Z Builts. If you need to know the codes and rules, don’t ask a fellow slinger. Most are well meaning but you may not get the right info. Codes vary from city to city and even from inspector to inspector within the same city. Not kidding.

      Go straight to YOUR inspector to get the info that is pertinent to YOU.

  7. Hey Steve – Lisa in Colorado here, just doing an initial read over the material.
    My husband and I were talking, and we were thinking that popcorn sales along with the Hot Dogs may be a
    good seller? The machines don’t seem that expensive, but I guess I will need to make sure I have an electric
    plug in where I set up. What are your thoughts on popcorn?


    1. Yes Lisa, popcorn is definitely worth trying. The only way to really know if something will sell is to sell it. If it’s a hit, keep it. If it’s a dud, lose it.

      Before investing in a popcorn machine you may want to test the market first. Just buy some bulk popcorn (or pop your own) and repackage it. Put it on the cart and see what happens.

      Let us know how it goes!

  8. One can never learn too much. I’ve owned and run two types of food service vehicles in the past. A motor home converted to lunch wagon. And a cart purchased from a cart mfg. / dealership in Miami, Fl. Thank you for the continued education opportunity.
    Starting over again, Lynn (DizzyDogs)

  9. When it comes to planning for health inspections overkill is much better than finding out at the last minute that you must pack everything up and go home. I have had my own food vending business for years and there were a few times I didn’t have exactly what the Health Dept required. In those instances it came in very handy that I knew the health inspector and the infraction was so small he let me slide. Had it not been for that I would have lost out on thousands of dollars because I didn’t have something as simple as a disinfectant test strip.

    1. We’re excited to have you as a member Jason! There are question and answer forms after each lesson. We’re always here to help you if you get stuck.

  10. Thanks again for help getting started. I think I was more excited than confused. Got my new trailer kit from HF tools yesterday and can’t wait to get in the garage and break it open. Look forward to forging this new path and all that it

  11. I am getting so excited. I live in China on a work assignment, I met and married a Chinese women, and we were both worried what kind of job she would be able to work in the USA. (We did all the legal paperwork) She can work legally, but the language barrier worries both of us. Anyway, I found this site, and the plan was clear! We move back to the US in December and will build our cart over the winter. Next fall we will do some weekends together, and then she will start on her own once we are comfortable. I just am so excited and happy we found something that her and I can learn and do together, but she will also be able to do this on her own!

    Thanks for everything Steve, I can’t wait to come back home and get this started!


  12. Well Steve, Iam almost there. my cart is complete, I think!. hopefully will meet the health inspector tomorrow. he is a hard person to catch up with (phone calls, msgs, office visits), however I need him asap. My local Lowes store manager want me
    at his vendor expo this weekend and I have only 5 days to prepare. I feel lucky, he also gave me a spot at the store on weekends, Friday, Saturday etc. I got to admit, the only experience I have is your video, presentations, instructions and
    very little back and forth communications. That’s how simple it is so far. setting up the business is the difficult part, license,permits,inspections etc…. please know without you, the dream would not be possible, thankyou, thankyou, thankyou. Now iam about to embark on the true unknown!

    Reggie’s Dawg House

  13. Hi Steve, just read the must read section and on my way to the EZ- build section. BTW I’m in Gwinnett County Georgia.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *