By: Tammy Daniels On: 09:11PM / Friday July 30, 2010
Neither rain nor sun keep Vinnie Melito, left, and David Lewis from serving up hot dogs to hungry tourists and residents alike.
If you've driven down Marshall Street the last few Saturdays, you might have caught the city's newest eatery — parked on the side of road.
It's a hot dog cart and one of the first in recent memory to be seen about the city. The entrepreneurs of this wheeling weinie roaster are Vincent Melito and David Lewis, both former educators who were looking to do something in the retirement.
We caught up with them last Saturday in front of Gramercy Bistro's old location but didn't get a chance to try any of their dogs — the rain had them closing up a little earlier than usual.
Melito and Lewis, who've dubbed their enterprise "Guys and Dogs," have gone through the ServeSafe course and received their state and local permits for being open for special events. In North Adams, that's pretty much every weekend at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art but they've also be at the Mayor's Downtown Celebration on Aug. 25 and for other regional and local events. They're also available for private events.
But what made Melito, a former city councilor, and Lewis, a longtime garage owner, decide to start grilling? The retirees said they wanted something to do.
Melito said he'd been thinking about a small business for awhile, and a hot dog cart is pretty small. He found a willing partner in Lewis and support from both their wives, Margo and Rhea.
Besides, said Melito, it brings life to an often empty city street and creates a reason walk toward the downtown.
"We obviously enjoy meeting people, promoting our city and creating a vibrant city image with our cart," he said. One of the important community benefits that occurs is that our location is close to Mass MoCA and our business, along with the information we provide, contributes to drawing more tourists to the downtown area."
Both men said they had received a lot of positive response about the cart. They've also received a permit to operate in Adams.
They may have started something. At this week's City Council meeting, Mayor Richard Alcombright introduced Adams' lengthy and recently enacted vendor bylaw and asked the council to consider adopting. The bylaw, which is now under review, was taken up in Adams because one successful vendor last year turned into four or more looking to set up shop this year in the Mother Town.
Alcombright said Guys and Dogs wasn't the reason for the ordinance request, but rather a flurry of vendors looking to cash in on the upcoming Solid Sound Festival in August. The city's current ordinance is expected to suffice for now but the mayor wants to be ready for events in the future.
Meanwhile, you can catch the city's sole hot dog cart (for now, at least) on Marshall Street between the hours of 11 and 2 on Saturday and later in the evening on occasions when MoCA might have performances. The cart offers up all-beef Angus hot dogs, traditional condiments plus sauerkraut, chili and spicy cheese sauce, chips, soda, water and lemonade.
:: Preliminary Election: Deadline to register is Wednesday, Sept. 7. (Office open from 8 to 8.)
:: General Election: Deadline to register is Tuesday, Oct. 18
Registration can be completed at the city clerk's office at City Hall.
Absentee ballots are now available at the city clerk's office for the Sept. 27 preliminary city election. Voters may come in between the hours of 8 and 4:30 weekdays. Written reguests for mailed ballots can be sent to City Clerk's Office, 10 Main St., North Adams, MA 01247. Deadline for absentee ballots is Monday, Sept. 26, at noon.
The preliminary election will be held Tuesday, Sept. 27, to narrow the field of three mayoral candidates to two. The general election to select nine city councilors and a mayor will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8.