Is This A Weenie Decision?

Hotdog cart

Wow, don’t get on the bad side of former Economic Development Director Nancy Hadley. You might lose your wiener. Nancy, a downtown resident, says the Marzan-family hotdog vendor (pictured above) who’ve made the sidewalk next to the Main Street courthouse a drive-up destination shouldn’t be doing business there.

She complained to police and the food cart was ordered to vacate which came as a surprise since they’ve been there for years. I asked Nancy, what gives? It’s an ordinance and quality of life issue. (OIB friend Tom Kelly says she’s correct on the ordinance.) Her reply:

wiener-dog hotdog

A couple of weeks ago Dan Tepfer wrote an article in the CT Post about the increase in restaurant options for downtown jurors at the courthouse on Main and Fairfield. The picture with the article was of the hotdog vendor ‘Snappy Dogs’. So I wrote back to Dan and stated that I didn’t think the hotdog vendor’s permit allowed a truck to drive up on the public sidewalk every morning at 7 a.m. and leave a meal vendor on the public side walk and then drive back up at 3 p.m. and drive the cart away.

The sidewalk now has dark black burn exhaust marks from the vendor conducting business every day. I wrote that it was great that Dan mentioned some of the new restaurants that are now downtown but I hoped he realized that those restaurants had to apply to the land use boards to hire architects and attorneys and pay rent every month to their landlords. I thought it was wrong that the city was allowing the hot dog vendor to use the public sidewalk to conduct business given the parameters of the permit. I thought the same rule applies to the vendor that has taken up shop on the sidewalk across from the Golden Hill Courthouse. I sent the article and picture to the police department and asked them to check out the status of the permit for both vendors.

If they were not allowed to be on the public sidewalk I requested that they take appropriate action. Dan called today and said the police was finally taking action against the hot dog vendor on Main and Fairfield. I am dismayed that enforcement ignored this situation for seven years but rules are rules. The vendors-on-wheels should not be allowed to operate outside the rule of law at either location. It is just plain wrong.

But where will jurors and judges now grab a dog?

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28 comments

  1. Let’s see, the previous owner who was never ever bothered was a Caucasian and the brand-new owners are Latinos. Suddenly there is a problem. Very curious I’d say! Maybe Economic Development Director Nancy Hadley has a problem.

  2. Let me weigh in, at 235 lbs, on this issue.

    In 1983, I was arrested in front of the Main Street Courthouse for operating a hot dog cart without a permit. I did this to challenge the itinerant vending ordinance of the City of Bridgeport. They allowed ice cream trucks and food wagons, so why not hot dog carts that were allowed under the state and national health codes?

    I brought about a mandamus action against the city claiming they were being “arbitrary and capricious.” I prevailed in court and in 1984 the Common Council changed the ordinance.

    In the early years of the Ganim administration there became a plethora of street vendors setting up shop with tables in front of stores. They would give the store a $20 bill to show and sell their wares. You couldn’t walk down the sidewalk without being hawked to buy a tape never mind being able to walk down the sidewalk itself. It became a quality of life issue for downtown.

    The Council in its wisdom passed an ordinance that stated for downtown that street or sidewalk vending would only be allowed on Friday, Saturday and Sundays.

    There were some discussion about setting up a shopping and food bazaar on Fridays when the old Baldwin Plaza was there.

    Also under the itinerant vending ordinance you could not plop down in one place and must move around after a sale or sales.

    Once again this is a classic case of the city not knowing its ass from its elbow!

    1. Hector–A dog in the hand is worth more than two in the bush!
      I don’t know if the city is giving these folks a hand job but if you read the fine print above it points out you can push it by hand in downtown but only on weekends.

  3. I like mine on a toasted bun, the works (spicy mustard, bacon bits, relish, sauerkraut and raw onions) on top of a grilled dog, thank you.

    Thanks for the various sides of the business issues being shared in the last two offerings, especially the history lesson (experience can be a brutal but memorable teacher) from Tom Kelly.

    I tend to side with small businesspeople, and see the man or woman vending from a truck as such an entrepreneur. However, I want to know how these truck vendors contribute to the City tax revenues as taxpayers. In the locations discussed, the fixed-place businesses (and/or their landlords) are paying property taxes (plus another millage levy for the Special Service District attention). If the wheeled vendors don’t contribute to the expenses in their service environment in a meaningful way, then they have an unfair edge in business competition.
    How do you fairly level the playing field? Not sure myself, but the discussion certainly has shown we have not reached the promised land in that regard.
    So, Tom Kelly, maybe we should ask those in charge to take a load off and sit down on their elbow, at which time it will dawn on them, miraculously, that there is a difference between a colonic sphincter and an arm joint.

    1. The Oracle of Omaha Steaks!

      I have had many a high-protein-beef injection of a hotdog at Snappy Dawgs. They serve an all-beef, natural casing, Boar’s Head puppy for a two-dollar holler! I take mine dragged through the garden including red onions.

      I always knew Kelly was gastric but never so didactic. BEACON2 serves as the light at the end of the colonoscope on this high-colonic subject. Meanwhile the city is knee and elbow deep in shit, that is enough to turn my blue eyes brown.

  4. Nancy Hadley is a “Wiener.”

    So much for Economic Development when a small business can’t do business where they feel would be more profitable. Nancy Hadley has joined the “Snitch” club by filing a complaint with the city against a Downtown Hot Dog vendor. This I say is the kind of things that inspired Lennie with the Phrase Only In Bridgeport. Nancy your shirt with a Big ‘S’ in the middle will be in the mail soon.
    This reminds me of Dick Blumenthal and his rich family. While Blumenthal talks about creating jobs and economic opportunity, his family is opposing the construction of a 67-story building near the Empire State Building which they own. The construction of the new tower will create much-needed jobs and tax revenue for New York City. I would also give Empire State tenants an option to move there if they can’t get a better rent deal from the Malkins.
    Worse yet, Nancy reminds me of when I was 8 to 10 years old shinning shoes at La Plaza de Colon in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. The City set aside a small side-street where shoe shiners could only do their business. The street was small and one had to get there early to get a spot. The older and bigger guys would force me out of my spot because they felt it was their spot regardless of the time they got there.
    I fought harder than any council member to stop the vendor ordinance proposed by Auden Grogins, which is probably the ordinance Nancy is trying to have enforced. It was wrong then and it is wrong today. I urge mayor Bill Finch to look into this matter and do the right thing by allowing the vendor to stay put. This should not be one of those issues that takes ‘long’ to resolve; it should be done in a “Snappy” of a finger. Wiener, anyone?

    www .ctpost.com/local/article/City-tells-popular-hotdog-vendor-to-move-along-631788.php

  5. CHARTER OF THE CITY OF BRIDGEPORT
    CHAPTER 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS
    SECTION 4. Taxation Liability of Inhabitants and Property
    “All of the inhabitants and property within the limits of the City of Bridgeport shall be liable to taxation to defray all the burdens and expenses of the City of Bridgeport.”

    That’s it … in print … short and sweet … the basis of assigning responsibility to carry the burden and pay for City costs!!!

    Thinking back on OIB communications, three general impressions come to mind:
    Most residents are ignorant of what is going on in governance most of the time. Even more residents do not care about municipal government (as long as they get whatever benefit is important to them)! And those who pay taxes on real estate, on autos, on business property are overburdened with taxes to pay for things whose price tags ultimately are greater than ever expressed when past legislators gave approval. Combine those thoughts and you find ignorance (don’t know), indifference (don’t care) and financial overburden (current taxpayer attitude) present to a great degree in the community.
    What if inhabitants (perhaps those over the age of majority) had a $100 annual per person obligation to the City due on July 1 of every year? And what if the computer readable form they filed asked them for the three programs they would like to see receive that funding with top choice getting 50%, second choice 35% and third choice 15% of their vote? What might you find out?
    Well you may have an additional $7 Million in revenue (plus a lot of angry people who pay little or no tax currently and wonder why they have been chosen to help with the burden). And from those cards you would have a poll much more specific and current than our anemic City election results to tell you what programs are truly regarded as important for continued funding.
    Hopefully you would increase the knowledge (decreasing ignorance on City subjects) and marginally decrease indifference (because it costs you $100) and help share the burden around.
    What is $100 among friends to tighten the bonds of community and share the burdens? Less than $.30 per day and you don’t have to join the military to protect our freedoms, merely exercise your responsibility to participate in our freedoms and burdens. Constitutional? Impractical? Unnecessary? Fantasy? What do you think?

  6. Going by strict interpretation of the law the hot dog cart does not belong on the sidewalk. Maybe the city should do what NYC does with these vendors and put certain corners up for bid to vendors. You would have to limit the number of vendors and locations but it can be done.
    Nancy not everyone can afford to eat lunch at the local restaurants. It’s a money and time thing.
    This damn city just can’t get anything right and please let’s not make this a racial thing, it’s not.

  7. Hey Joel,
    How can I ‘snitch’ about a business that has been in full view of judges, lawyers and police for seven years? I want a level playing field downtown. Right now I am looking out at People’s United Bank Plaza. There is a street vendor; truck and trailer, parked in front of a meter selling whatever food they have on the menu. There is a line in front of the truck. Why is that vendor playing by the rules, i.e. parked on the street and feeding a parking meter; yet the Snappy Dog vendor gets to drive up on a public sidewalk and conduct business? Both have the measly $250 health dept permit.

    Now, look at McDonalds, Quiznos, Amici Mei, Subway, Panda Chinese, Dunkin Donuts and Tiago’s. They are located between the Marzan’s Snappy Dog trailer and the PUB street vendor’s trailer. Those restaurants are paying rent to their landlords so the landlords can pay the property taxes to the city and the additional 3 mils to the Downtown Special Services District.

    Where is the level playing field in this picture? Where is the quality of life standards for the downtown? Sidewalks are for pedestrians and al fresco dining if the restaurateur gets the appropriate permits like Tiago’s and Épernay.

    I am not a snitch, sir. I want downtown to thrive. In order for that to happen there needs to be a level playing field for all businesses. Right now there isn’t one.

    1. Excuse me Nancy but your prejudices are showing.
      First of all by what stretch of the imagination is TIAGO’s between the two locations you mentioned? The finest Bridgeport dining establishment (Ralph and Rich’s) is much closer but you did not mention them. And I am certain they are pleased not to be lumped into the group you came up with. They pay more in rent and taxes and I am sure do not for a moment consider PUB street vending competition.
      Then you again feel the need to add TIAGO’s as an appropriately permitted sidewalk vendor as opposed to his other business interests that were sent cease and desist notices for violating zoning rules. And he had the nerve to sue the city based on the fact no one told him the rules when he started using properties in violation of land use regs.
      He has quite suddenly become the fair-haired member of the Planning and Zoning Commission.

  8. “Snappy Dog” is hoping everyone will continue to mention them on the blog/newspaper. They are thanking Ms. Hadley for the attention and all the business it’s bound to generate.

  9. Snappy Dog, Snappy Dog, Snappy Dog, Snappy Dog. The name is catchy. Joel the employees of Snappy Dog wear S’s on their chest. Snap … Snap … Snappy Dog. Love it.

  10. Nancy I can’t smell the aroma of Hog Dogs, but I smell a rat. “How can I ‘snitch’ about a business that has been in full view of judges, lawyers, and police for seven years?”
    “I sent the article and picture to the police department and asked them to check out the status of the permit for both vendors.” Is this your defense? You sent an article and picture to the police. By Hector Diaz’s definition and mine you are a “snitch.” You asked the Police to check the status of the permit and it turned out they have one and still they were told to move.
    You mentioned McDonalds. The owners of the McDonalds there and State Street Extension–near my home–is owned by the same owners of the Holiday Inn. People you have a working relationship with. Are you going to be responsible–from now on–for picking up the McDonalds trash tossed from cars on my street? You noticed the black marks on the sidewalk by the vendor. Have you noticed all the bubblegum on the sidewalks? I don’t see the Downtown Special Service District crew scraping any of it. The News Corner and others sell gum. Have you noticed the damage to the sidewalks and bricks caused by the roots of the trees? If I trip and fall who should I file a claim against? So much for quality of life!

    “Now, look at McDonalds, Quiznos, Amici Mei, Subway, Panda Chinese, Dunkin Donuts and Tiago’s. They are located between the Marzan’s Snappy Dog trailer and the PUB street vendor’s trailer. Those restaurants are paying rent to their landlords so the landlords can pay the property taxes to the city and the additional 3 mils to the Downtown Special Services District.”
    You are comparing apples with hot dogs. If Street Vendors have a hard time coming up with a “measly” $250 how you expect them to come up with Millions for a franchise? You ever wondered why they are called “Street” vendors? You make a poor case in trying to point out advantages by vendors over these establishments. Do street vendors have bathrooms or Air Conditioning? If a person driving a car or truck gets a heart attack and hits a vendor, is he/she at an advantage compared to a person working behind the counter of your friend’s McDonalds? Do vendors have video cameras or panic buttons for security in the event of a hold-up? Not all the folks there pay taxes equally. For years your friends at the Holiday Inn have benefited from special tax breaks by the city. Is this a “level playing field,” is this a good quality of life? Careful what you guys and gals wish for, you just might get it.

  11. I agree with your point, but not your style. Your interpretation of the ordinance is correct and you are right about the other street vendors following the rules. I also agree with your point that the restaurants are held to a much higher standard of compliance and contribute more to the tax base.

    But the fact they have been there for seven years and the first public mention comes from a former city official and private developer raises some questions.

    1. Weren’t you in the position as a city official to deal with this 7 years ago? Why now?

    2. Where are the quotes from the restaurant owners you seem to be speaking up for? I’m not saying they don’t have a problem with this, but I know a few of them and I’m sure they would voice greater concerns about the city than the hotdog guy on the sidewalk.

    3. Couldn’t you find anyone besides Phil Kuchma to support your argument? He’s never cared about anyone else but himself. Not to mention the fact the restaurants in his development got the keys to the city in comparison to the other restaurants. He’s the last person who should be crying foul.

    4. Ever heard of a thing called diplomacy? I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, that you didn’t begin this endeavor with an article in the Post in mind. But I find it hard to believe that someone with your experience didn’t see this coming. This looks like the classic David and Goliath scenario. There is no way the city, yourself or Kuchma could avoid looking like insensitive bullies. Worse yet your insistence on justifying your position with the letter of the law opens up a whole can of worms about other rules, laws, and ordinances that have gone unenforced over the years. Not to mention the fact it indirectly pokes at a police force that is reeling from the recent spike in murders. All of which is played out in the Connecticut Post!!!
    Perhaps a phone call or meeting would have worked? Maybe someone for DSSD or the BRBC could serve as a mediator? Any solution would be better than another monument to our municipal dysfunction in the Post.

    Was all this worth it? When it’s all said and done you are right. But it comes a the expense of making Finch look like he doesn’t know what’s going on in his city again, closing a mom and pop business, and embarrassing the city.

    Style, Nancy. It’s all about the style.

  12. With all that goes on in Bridgeport,
    There are things that have far more import.
    Schools, taxes and crime,
    Are problems sublime,
    Not hotdogs in front of the Court.

  13. I too appreciated Tom Kelly’s history lesson. I didn’t know the history of the vendor ordinance so now I am not even sure the street vendors can park themselves in one place for 5-8 hours and do business.

    I walk up, down and around the downtown several times a day because I live and work in the downtown. I watch people throw gum on the ground even though there is a trash barrel within throwing distance. I watch people throw empty half pints in the flower pots and flower beds or leave them on the benches. I guess they expect the City or the DSSD to pick up after them. I for one can think of a hundred better assignments for the City staff than cleaning up after people. And yes, the DSSD has their hands full picking up garbage and getting the gum off the downtown sidewalks because there are people who don’t respect the downtown. I watched the DSSD powerwash the Main Street sidewalk between McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts only to find the gum back on the sidewalk within a week. I am constantly picking up trash and empty half pints and putting the crap in trash barrels. I see benches and tables become covered with grafitti which sends the City back to remove the mess. All bad. All disrespectful. However, in the case of Snappy Dog, it is their vendor cart that is damaging the public sidewalk, not their patrons, them. In my opinion, they should not be conducting business on a public sidewalk but that is the police department’s determination. They need to find a parking space with a parking meter and conduct their business if permissible by the city vendor ordinance.

    All I am saying is all those selling food in the downtown need to be on a level playing field. Right now, they aren’t.

    I hope you plan to be at tonight’s final Downtown Thursday concert in McLevy Park. It is a benefit for the families of the fallen firefighters. Come down, enjoy the downtown, and throw some money in the firefighter’s boot.

  14. Nancy, how dare you try to gloss all of this over with your disingenuous comment about the fallen firefighters. Shame on you and shame on the DSSD for trying to tie in their cheap concert series with such a noble fundraising effort.
    Fortunately, many Bridgeporters did not wait for a self-promoting event like this to generously donate to this cause.

  15. The Gossip of The Rialto!

    Extra! Extra!! Feed All About It!!!

    Food Fight Erupts at Downtown Nosh Fest!

    Speedy Gonzalez accuses Nancy Hadley of being a “Wiener Schnitzel!” Hadley fires back saying that Gonzalez is “Barking Up the Wrong Tree!”

    Kelly threatening to go to court in wrongful dog bite suit in this culinary caper.

    Hector Diaz claims Kelly doesn’t have a stool or soapbox to stand on because his suit doesn’t have any teeth.

    Keith Rodgerson will be producing a Downtown reality show to be called, “The Edge of Table” or “As the Tables Turn.”

    Only in Bridgeport folks, Only in Bridgeport!

  16. Anybody check out the reader’s comments on the CT Post website about Nancy H? Last count had it 22 against Nancy and her silly stance and zero in favor. Go figure Nancy, again nobody agrees with you.

  17. Too bad Nancy and Fabrizi didn’t crack down on deadbeat developers like Eric Anderson and the slew of owners at 333 State and all of the other Tax PILOT Cheats when they were in office. Maybe downtown would actually be something today other than empty storefronts, decaying buildings, rubbish-strewn empty lots and, oh I almost forgot, illegal hotdog stands.
    Protect the big boys and step on the little guy, that’s the Bridgeport battle cry.

    1. Does anyone know who the developer for the old “Buy Rite” building on the East Side was? They tell me the building’s been a health hazard since the TORNADO.

  18. *** Sucks for Snappy Dogs, however this is just another example of the many city & state ordinances and statutes that are on the books, yet almost never enforced by officials ’til issues are raised by city residents. Clear case of the blind leading the blind in overall government! Time for a “back to basics” way of life in America. *** What’s good for the goose must be just as good for the gander. ***

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