How a Complaint to the City Helped This Teen’s Hot Dog Stand Take Off

When the Minneapolis Department of Health received a complaint about Jaequan Faulkner’s mini business, instead of shutting him down, they helped him get a permit and even gave him business advice.

Feb 18, 2019

This past summer, Jaequan Faulkner, a 13-year old living in Minneapolis, Minnesota did what many kids do in the summer - he set up a hot dog stand outside of his home to make some extra money for new clothing. The young entrepreneur took great care to make sure that all food was fresh and clean and even set up a cash register and receipts.

People in the neighborhood loved the boy’s entrepreneurial spirit and there was only one problem - he didn’t have a permit. When the Minneapolis Department of Health received a complaint about the small front lawn business, they did the most peculiar thing. Instead of shutting down Jaequan’s food stand, they helped the teenager get a permit so that his business could thrive.

Daniel Huff, the environmental health director for the department, told MPR News they were excited to help a young man with such a keen sense for business.

"And instead of shutting him down, we worked with him to make sure that he got everything he needs," he said. "The health inspectors actually all pitched in to pay for his first permit."

After taking care of the $87 license fee, Huff then took another step and helped connect Jaequan with the Northside Economic Opportunity Network, which gave the young businessman tips on running a small business and keeping everything clean.

“I was actually kinda surprised,” Jaequan said about all the support. “Cause usually I would have one person at a time help me, but then with so many people coming at once, I’m like, Wow. I realized how much people enjoy it.”

The food stand, which is called Mr. Faulkner’s Old Fashioned Hot Dogs, now operates with a license and is open four hours daily from 11 am to 3 pm.

Jaequan’s uncle, who initially helped him set up the stand, says that today Jaequan handles 90 percent of the business. Jaequan is also thinking about donating some of his profit to organizations that assist people with youth suicide prevention and depression.

In his free time, Jaequan thinks about what his next step will be and plays with the idea of taking his business on the road.

Whatever Jaequan’s future will bring, with as much drive and determination as this boy has, we’re sure it’s going to be a bright one.

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Hilla Benzaken is a dedicated optimist. Her happy place involves cooking, acting, gardening, and fighting for social justice. She writes about all things sustainability, innovation, and DIY.