Winter takes its toll on Bow hot dog stand sales
Dave Parisi, left, walks away with his order of two hot dogs while Doug Greenlaw, right, says good bye from his window at Greenie's Hot Dogs in Bow on Sunday afternoon, February 23, 2014. Parisi is a regular Sunday afternoon customer for Greenlaw, the hot dog stand's owner.
(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
Doug Greenlaw, owner of Greenie's Hot Dogs in Bow, shows off a pair of freshly cooked hot dogs with sauerkraut and spicy mustard on Sunday afternoon, February 23, 2014.
(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
Selling hot dogs throughout a New Hampshire winter isn’t working out as well as Doug Greenlaw had hoped when he decided to open a year-round food stand in Bow in August. Despite the fact that he has a devoted following claiming his hot dogs are some of the best in the Concord area, Greenlaw says customers haven’t been showing up in the recent spate of poor weather.
Just five customers made it out in the drizzling rain Friday to order hot dogs and fries from Greenlaw, whose stand is named Greenie’s after the nickname he received in the Navy. Greenlaw said he needs about 30 to 50 customers per day to keep the stand going, and he is hoping the community will support him more when the weather improves, like it did before winter hit.
“It’s been a killer,” Greenlaw said of the snow that weighs down the trailer in which he prepares hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken tenders, grilled cheeses and fries. The snow is weighing down Greenie’s
finances as well.
“Right now, it’s all out of pocket,” he said of the deficit from which he is operating.
“I’ve had people say, ‘You’re the talk of the town,’ but right now, it’s tough.”
This lack of customers willing to brave the snow for hot dogs may sound like a grim financial forecast to a bystander, but to Greenlaw, life is still good.
“I love my job,” Greenlaw said, “I do this to have fun.”
And he means it. He laughs often and has plenty of exuberance for providing his customers with the best quality product. Greenlaw’s stand is really a trailer – with a spotless, stainless steel, gourmet kitchen inside. Greenlaw said he and a friend converted the trailer into a mobile kitchen for $170,000 about five years ago.
Greenlaw proudly shows off the praise he received from the health inspector: “The most amazing mobile-unit kitchen – no corners cut here,” the report reads, with an exclamation point at the end for emphasis.
One would be hard-pressed to find dirt in Greenlaw’s kitchen, but finding the kitchen itself can be tricky if you don’t know where to look. Right now, Greenlaw’s trailer blends in with piles of snow on a hill off Route 3A. If it weren’t for his red-and-green sign, a customer could easily drive past.
Jack Courtney of New Boston is one of Greenlaw’s regular customers, and he makes it up the graveled drive deep with puddles to get the same order, at least twice a week. Courtney orders fries, a Sunkist and two grilled hot dogs with mustard, ketchup, pickles and onions. The onions, Courtney said, are extra good at this hot dog stand.
“It’s worth the trip,” Courtney said as he waited to get his dogs in a “boat” container to go. “I grew up loving hot dogs in Chicago. I was thrilled when he opened.”
Greenlaw is not new to the hot dog business. He operated a push cart for 20 years near his hometown of Haverhill, Mass., he said, and did quite well at it. He had steamed buns and hot dogs ready for hundreds of people every day. It’s been harder to maintain quick service with his expanded menu, he said.
Still, there are planned additions of sausages and lobster rolls for the spring, Greenlaw said, if he can find a short-order cook to help him prepare for customers. Not being able to find enough employees put Greenlaw’s food stand out of business in Brentwood, where he first opened the larger unit he operates now. He said he had too many customers, and he couldn’t keep up.
“I was trying to run five stations by myself,” Greenlaw said of his attempt in Brentwood without a cook to help. “I thought, ‘God, doesn’t anybody want to work?’ ”
Right now Greenlaw has one employee, and while she is learning, she isn’t trained enough in frying food to keep up with the increase in business he expects in the summer. He hasn’t had that many prospects for a short-order cook.
Greenlaw has even slept in his truck rather than make the drive back to Haverhill when the recent snowstorms slowed travel. Unfortunately, when it snowed, Greenlaw said not a single customer showed.
Still, Greenlaw remains positive.
“I’m never discouraged,” he said. “I love talking to people. I meet so many different people, from 4-year-olds to lawyers and judges. I’m here at 7 a.m. when I don’t open until 11 a.m. Every day, I can’t wait to get here.”
(Daira Cline can be reached at 369-3306 or dcline@cmonitor. com.)