A Hamburger Today
Street Food Profiles: Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs in Denver, Colorado
Note: It's time for another edition of Street Food Profiles. This week we scoot to Denver to meet Biker Jim and his gourmet tube steak.
What's on the menu? Hot dogs made made with reindeer, elk, wild boar, buffalo, pheasant, rattlesnake, veal and a variety of rotating brat specials such as Boudin and Linguisa.
Location and hours? The intersection of 16th and Arapahoe Streets in Denver (map) from 11 a.m. to 3 or 4 p.m.
How long have you been street fooding? A bit over four years.
How has Twitter affected business? It's helpful to let people know specials and unexpected weather vacations. Twitter is cool, but our Yelp page has actually brought me more business than anywhere else.
Why a mobile business over brick-and-mortar The start-up costs are about 8-percent of a brick-and-mortar. Days off are easier to come by and you're not locked into just one spot. The option to relocate or do events is quite advantageous.
Who are your typical customers? Cops and crooks, politicians and babysitters, office workers and tourists. Not really a regular but Anthony Bourdain declared himself a fan of the joint.
Describe a typical day from start to finish. Here's the 100-word-or-less version: Our commissary is six blocks from our spot so at 9:30 a.m., we stock and load, head to our street corner and get set up by starting the first pan of onions. Usually around 10:45 to 11 a.m. we start burning dogs for people. It gets busy for a few hours—we hang for another hour or two, depending on weather and business. (I keep mentioning weather because we've had an unusually cold winter so far.) Head back to the shop, clean, count, restock, and ready up for another day.
What were you doing before this? Reposessing cars for the last, well, way too long.
What makes your food so special? Can anything else like it be found in the city? Not on the streets. There are a few restaurants that specialize in wild game but they are quite a bit pricier and you are usually enjoying steaks, not tube steaks.
How would you define "street food"? I think the two words speak for themselves. You could add two more to make it "food on the street." I'm pretty sure street food is starting to come into its own. It's becoming quite the next trend—watch out comfort food!
The best street food city and why. Probably New York but I've heard Portland is killing it right now. The number of trucks and carts and the variety of food there sounds fantastic.
Your comfort food after a long day? Foie gras and eggs. (Nah, I wish.) Probably reindeer sausage and waffles.
Advice for an aspiring vendor? The best quote I've heard about street vending is, "This is the hardest I've ever worked for easy money!" Also check out Roadfood, a great forum site for anyone interested in getting into the food business, weather you're a pro or a fan.