There are too many stories out there about shuttered lemonade stands after someone calls the local government on an entrepreneurial kid.
But that’s not what happened to Jaequan Faulkner, 13, owner of Mr. Faulkner’s Old Fashioned Hot Dogs in Minneapolis. His story:
The business started in 2016 when Faulkner saw an old hot dog grill at his uncle’s house. After two years of starts and stops, Faulkner stuck with it this summer.
Then he hit a snag: The Minneapolis Health Department called. Someone had complained to the city about the hot dog stand.
But instead of shutting Faulkner down, the Health Department decided to help him meet its standards.
Health Department staff made sure he had the necessary equipment — thermometers, food containers, hand sanitizer and utensil-cleaning stations — as well as knowledge about proper food handling. Once he passed his health inspection, inspectors paid the $87 for the special event food permit, and the city-sanctioned stand opened for business.
Officials in the Northside Economic Opportunity Network (NEON) also connected with Faulkner to build his business savvy. Faulkner impressed them with his innate abilities, said Ann Fix, program manager of NEON’s food business incubator.
“Every day I’ve been going home thinking, ‘This young man is the brightness of my day,’ ” she said.
When inspectors talked to Faulkner, he listened intently. When they sat down to talk about business strategy, finances and marketing, Faulkner engaged.
“With Jaequan, it’s an even bigger passion,” Fix said. “It’s not just about the hot dogs, it’s about everything in the community.”
Maybe it’s the Minnesota nice, but it’s great to see a kid with that kind of drive and work ethic get encouragement from his local community.