It’s not summer without a hotdog, and perhaps that’s why July is National Hot Dog month. In fact Americans eat roughly 150 million hot dogs on July 4th alone, according to the The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. There are plenty of ways to eat a hotdog in Central Arkansas, whether you make it yourself during a backyard cookout or grab one from the ball park. We checked in with an expert – Stephen Giese of the Faulkner County-based Green Cart Deli food truck – to make sure we’re getting the most out of our dogs. Giese gives us the low-down on the truck, and how to do National Hot Dog month right in the following interview.
AY: Let’s start with the most important question – Why hotdogs?
Stephen Giese: The Green Cart Deli started with hot dogs because everyone loves hot dogs. What kid doesn’t love a hot dog? People are also very adamant about how their dogs should taste depending on where they are from. Chicago is well known for their offerings, and particularly the neon green relish and sport peppers. In the Northeast they love their kraut. Arkansas has people from all across the world, and one thing that can always remind them about home is their hot dog. … People are always attracted to the cart because it brings back that memory from home when they would get a hot dog from a cart – whether it was downtown Chicago, Central Park in New York, or at the Home Depot in Arizona as several people have told us.
AY: So, how did you and your team become the Green Cart Deli?
SG: We had actually been looking at doing something for a while with a food truck, and at the time, [the Green Cart Deli was] up and coming and several of the cooking channels had food truck shows. What we were looking for when we were putting this together was something that would make us stand out from all the other trucks. Our team currently consists of Stephen and Jennifer Giese, Chef Andy Burris and the two boss’ of the operations – my sons Zachary and Sawyer Giese.
AY: On to the dogs! How did you land on Vienna Franks?
SG: We traveled across the South and Northeast looking for hot dogs. Depending on what area you were in there was usually a particular favorite brand, [but] we also wanted to try and bring in a product that was unique. We didn’t want to run down to the Sam’s Club and pick up a case of hot dogs like some vendors do, although there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, we wanted to something that when you tasted it you knew that you couldn’t get it anywhere else.
We initially narrowed it down to two brands of hot dogs. We talked to both companies and Vienna Beef was really interested in our concept, [plus] they really don’t have much of a presence in the South. … At the end of the day it came down to flavor and Vienna Beef won out.
AY: What’s the best part about being mobile?
SG: We can set up anywhere – we are capable of setting up inside or outside for events. We recently set up indoors for a wedding. … And, [being mobile] gives us the opportunity to meet a lot of different people by traveling throughout the state. Everyone has a story about hot dogs. You wouldn’t believe some of the things we have heard.
AY: What’s different about The Green Cart Deli?
SG: What really sets us apart from a lot of the other food trucks is our environmentally friendly concept. We use all recycled serving trays, napkins, utensils, etc. We are powered by solar energy. We actually have a refrigeration unit built in to our cart that runs entirely off of solar power. We have a built in battery system that allows us to store energy during the day so we can continue to run at night. The cart also has hot and cold running water. … We are also silent. Unlike some food trucks that have to use a generator or connect to an outlet, we are 100 percent self-contained.
AY: Do you have a favorite flavor combination – perhaps a favorite that’s on your menu?
Our number one hot dog on the menu is our Chicago Dog. We truly have one of the very few authentic Chicago Dogs in the state. We use natural casing hot dogs which have a snap to them – you can’t buy those at the grocery store. Also, try looking for sport peppers, I have yet to find any in Arkansas. Fortunately, Vienna Beef has been a great partner in bringing in what we need. Our most popular hot dog [flavor combination] is probably the Ranch Dog. It has slaw, fried onions, pepper strips, bacon and our home made chipotle ranch. But, we are also well known for our OMG Brownies – I think the name says it all. We always sell out when we do events.
AY: Those sound tasty! Be real with us, is there a wrong way to eat a hot dog?
Well, the true hot dog aficionado would probably tell you absolutely no KETCHUP! However, we truly feel that the customer is always right and there is no wrong way to eat a hot dog. We even have a vegan friendly version called the ‘Not Dog” – it comes with all the vegetables and literally no hot dog.
AY: Well, we’re definitely hungry now! Anything else you’d like to add?
I think the biggest misconception about Green Cart Deli comes from our name. The reason we call it “Green Cart Deli” and not the “Green Hot Dog Cart” is because we can do anything with our cart – we even offer Italian Beef sandwiches on occasion (another Chicago specialty). … We also have a second hot cart that we are looking at integrating the solar concept into, as well, which will ultimately give us the ability to work multiple events on the same day.
(Top image via Green Cart Deli)