RIDGWAY — A hot dog cart and trailer concession stand have been heating things up New York style in this Elk County community.
New York native Paul Akat, a retired New York City corrections officer who lives in St. Marys, prides himself on friendly customer service, all-beef hot dogs and hot sausage accompanied by a special sauce from his home state.
Akat bought the business from a man who sold the hot dogs in front of the Clearfield County Courthouse, keeping the business’ same name, “Dog Gone Crazy Hot Dogs.”
Akat said the hot dog cart was in downtown St. Marys for a couple of years, before he located to Ridgway; first, the St. Leo’s Parish parking lot, and now, at Lazy River Canoe Rental on West Main Street.
The hot dog cart has received a massive amount of positive feedback, he said, with people stopping by for a Coney Island dog with nachos and a drink or a New York dog with spicy brown mustard.
“Selling hot dogs on the corner feels like NYC to me,” Akat said. “I love interacting with people. This is my hobby and my fun.”
Besides local hot dog fans, Akat encounters travelers, too, including people from Oklahoma or Texas recently. LRCR has been a popular stop, especially on weekends, he says.
While Akat operates the hot dog cart in Ridgway, his wife has helped to run the concession stand in other locations, including Johnsonburg, he said.
“This is all-American food,” Akat said. “How can you go wrong with an all-beef hotdog with New York style sauce? People seem to love it.”
When Akat received word from St. Leo’s Parish that he had to remove his hot dog stand to accommodate another vendor in June, his Facebook post about the move drew 62 comments and more than 70 shares from valued Ridgway customers.
“Everyone offered me support and a place to bring my business,” he said. He ultimately decided on LRCR.
The Ridgway Borough Council is also searching for a downtown location where Akat can keep his concession trailer, he said.
A huge part of Akat’s business involves generosity, he says, such as giving away free hot dogs to youth with good report cards or fundraising for law enforcement and first responders. Almost every day, just by sharing or commenting on a Facebook post, people have the chance to win a free hot dog or sausage.
“I love Ridgway,” Akat said. “It’s a community of beautiful people, and I’m here to stay.”
For more information, visit Dog Gone Crazy Hot Dogs on Facebook or call 814-335-5969.