St. John Valley

St. John Valley food cart ‘The Hot Dog’ is on a roll

ST. DAVID, Maine — When math teacher Pamela Deschaines saw a hot dog cart for sale online, she thought it might be fun to start up her own small business as a food cart operator. 

Deschaines, 43, purchased the cart and named her new traveling business The Hot Dog, which specializes in red and brown hot dogs, along with a choice of traditional hot dog toppings from ketchup and mustard to chili and sauerkraut.  

“Since I purchased it, I have come to realize there was actually a need in the community … and who doesn’t love a good hot dog in the summertime,” Deschaines said. “After only a few days advertising, I have had people contact me [to bring The Hot Dog to] various places and functions.”

Deschaines has a passion for cooking, having learned from her mother.

“My mother is a great cook, cause nobody cooks better than your mom, right,” Deschaines said. “She has always been my go to when I have questions about food she cooked for us while growing up. A lot of her recipes come from relatives, including my memere Hebert’s pickled beet recipe.”

Although pickled beets are not on the menu for now, Deschaines first operated The Hot Dog last weekend in St. David. 

Deschaines teaches math to seventh- and eighth-grade students at Valley Rivers Middle School so she plans to operate The Hot Dog only on weekends and during special events throughout the St. John Valley. 

She lives on Long Lake with her husband, Josh Deschaines, along with the couple’s dogs Ruger, a German shepherd, and Chester, a black lab.

Pamela Deschaines, owner of “The Hot Dog,” named menu items after beloved family dogs, Ruger and Chester, and Remy who died in 2017. Pictured is Ruger. (Courtesy of Pamela Deschaines)

Pamela Deschaines, owner of “The Hot Dog,” named menu items after  beloved family dogs, Ruger and Chester, and Remy who died in 2017. Pictured is Chester. (Courtesy of Pamela Deschaines)

Pamela Deschaines, owner of “The Hot Dog,” named menu items after beloved family dogs, Ruger and Chester, and Remy who died in 2017. Pictured is Remy. (Courtesy of Pamela Deschaines)

Some of the menu items are named after the family dogs. “The Ruger” is described as a silly spiral cut dog, and “The Chester” as a “really cheesy dog” because it is covered in melted cheese.

“The Remy” is named in honor of the Deschaines’ late lab/golden retriever mix, who died in 2017. This menu item is a classic hot dog and is described as “a good ol’ dog.”

The Hot Dog menu also features nachos, chili cheese nachos and “Pup Coolers,” frozen smoothie treats for dogs prepared by Happy Tails Bakery of Madawaska.

Deschaines has experience cooking food for the public, including about 10 years as a deli and bakery associate at Paradis Shop ‘n Save in Fort Kent along with being a prep cook and a breakfast cook at Lakeview Restaurant in St Agatha. 

She has also completed the online ServSafe Manager course. She is scheduled to take a ServSafe Manager test on Wednesday, and upon completion of that will be able to offer other types of food such as cheeseburgers from her food cart. 

The cart is more than just a hot dog heater on wheels. It is equipped with a four-bay steam table and has a gravity-fed water system that supplies both hot and cold water to a three bay sink and hand washing station attached to the cart. 

Other features include a cooler bin for drinks, shelving unit for buns and a large umbrella for shade.

Deschaines said the cart is easy to transport on the back of her pickup truck.

“Having never been self-employed, I must say that even starting up a very small business like a hot dog stand I have learned a lot in a very short amount of time and I know that I will continue to learn and adapt to my customers’ needs as time goes on,” Deschaines said. “

Deschaines said she has received plenty of encouragement and support from the community, as well as from other business owners. 

“I have always known that we live in an area where everyone looks out for one another but what I am amazed about is how much support not only friends and family have shown, but other local small businesses as well,” Pamela Deschaines said. “ I feel by starting this business I have become part of another family.”

For information about The Hot Dog, visit the business’ Facebook page.

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