For a few weeks now, Yummy Dogs, a Van Nuys purveyor of New York style Sabrett Hot Dogs, has been haunting me with their tweats, imploring me to stop by and see owner Rick and his food cart on his stopovers in Lake Balboa and Calabasas.
Today I met owner Rick Feldman (b. 12/12/74), an affable and sweet man in a baseball cap who was born in Southern California, but spent time in my old neck of the woods, Skokie, IL. His white sneakers unintentionally gave away his Chicago origins.
He previously worked as a landscape contractor but brain surgery forced him to relook and reevaluate his life, and he decided to sell hot dogs, a fun and less stressful job, he claimed, than overseeing construction. He lives in Lake Balboa. And is married to a woman, an arrangement once widespread.
On this partially sunny day, he was in the back parking lot of a dark glass office building along Sherman Way, not far from the Van Nuys Airport. Streams of deskbound young Latinas in black tops and black bottoms, taking their only exercise of the day from office seat to car seat, poured out of the building, followed by those men in name tags, blue shirts, and goatees who populate this part of the San Fernando Valley office world. Many stopped by to try the various incarnations of carne doggeria: the Spicy Dog, the Jumbo Spicy Dog, the Veggie Dog.
Rick, pulling the steamy dogs out and into waiting buns, chatted and served and directed the customers towards his international array of condiments: powdered cumin, dry and yellow mustard, Sriracha, Tabasco, and pepperoncini. He talked up his self-roasted coffee, brewed and served a la cart.
In his new venture, under the bright umbrella, he seemed happy, happier than most anyone without a hot dog cart.