When Josh Blankenship opened his food truck, Yo Dog Wieners, last October, it was the culmination of a long-held dream.
Blankenship, an entrepreneur from Kansas City with a marketing background, said he and his wife originally moved to Great Bend about five years ago to help start a marketing company. But eventually, he got tired of staring at a computer screen all day and decided to follow through on the idea which he’d held for about 10 years.
Blankenship said he loves to grill at home for family, but considers himself more of an entrepreneur than a chef. So when he started up a food truck, he wanted to take an inexpensive, basic grilling food and up the ante. The hot dog provided the perfect avenue because it can be cooked quickly and because, “In my opinion, almost anything goes good on a hot dog.”
Because a hot dog is so flexible, he said, it allows a customer to put their own spin on it. So far, they’ve done everything from a Chicago-style loaded hot dog to a taco hot dog.
Blankenship said one thing that always appealed to him about the idea of a food truck is the flexibility of being able to do business anywhere, instead of being tied to a single physical location. Because he likes to travel, in the future, he said, he would like to be able to tow the food cart behind his RV and take the business across the country with him.
As the weather warms up in the spring, and into the summer, their goal is to be out in the community three to four times a week. It also allows him the flexibility to take orders from and cook from the comfort of his own driveway and have his wife deliver to customers around the city on days they are not out in the community. That is especially convenient during cooler months in Kansas.
In addition to Great Bend, they are also traveling to other area communities, such as Hoisington, Larned and Lewis.
A food truck is less expensive to operate than a physical location, he said. Once the truck is bought, there is no rent or utilities to pay, so the main costs lay simply in the food and in maintaining the cart.
He sees the long-term future of the project as about far more than just himself, though. As a veteran who served five years in the Army, he sees it as an eventual chance to give back to those who serve.
“My goal is to be able to buy hot dog carts for veterans across the country, to (share) the recipes and the marketing expertise to be able to launch their own,” he said.
The entrepreneurial spirit is also something he hopes to pass on to his two sons, ages 13 and 9. “They are a big part the business. It’s something I wanted to do to help show them how to work and how to run a business of their own.”
Businesses in Great Bend, he said, have been extremely supportive of the venture, providing both support and space to operate his food truck.
“The amount of people here that are willing to give and to support and to be there for you when you start small businesses has been really cool for us, and so we hope you know to do the same for small businesses,” he said.
Today, they will be in the rear parking lot behind Dry Lake Brewery in the 1300 block of Main. To learn more about Yo Dog Weiners, they can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/YoDogWieners, or visit the website, yodogwieners.com.