Like many kids, Jaequan Faulkner of Minneapolis, Minnesota, was a 13-year-old with a dream. His dream? To sell a few hot dogs and make some money so he could buy himself school clothes and shoes.
Jauquan has been running his hot dog stand from his front yard since 2016 without an issue, but this summer, something unexpected happened.
A Facebook page “Bike Cops for Kids” posted about it, and his business skyrocketed.
But, as with all things, more attention often brings attention that isn’t always the good kind. And since no one can let people just enjoy things, people (#PermitPatty? Is that you again?) complained about the stand. Upon investigation, it seems that Jaequan didn’t have the proper permits to operate in his community.
Here’s where the story turns away from the usual narrative into something that will renew your faith in humanity.
Instead of shutting him down, the city officials of Minneapolis, along with the community rallying behind them, stepped up in a big way and helped him get his business up to code so he could get the proper permits.
Jaequan erected a tent and put in a hand-washing station, and the city gave him a thermometer to keep a check on the meat temperature as well. The city’s health department covered the cost of the (YIKES) $87 permit.
“When I realized what it was, I said, ‘No, we’re not going to just go and shut him down like we would an unlicensed vendor,’” said Minneapolis Environmental Health Director Dan Huff. “We can help him get the permit. Let’s make this a positive thing and help him become a business owner.”
The county’s health inspection staff rallied together and ponied up the money out of their pockets to cover his permit, as well as working with Jaequan to teach him safe health code practices. But they didn’t stop there.
The Department of Health then reached out on his behalf to the Northern Economic Opportunity Network (NEON), a nonprofit for the empowerment of underserved entrepreneurs. NEON is teaching Jaequan the finer points of business management, helped him start a Facebook page for his business, and are continuing to work with him to help him create plans for the future and build on his business skills, including plans for his stand for next summer.
The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile recently visited Jaequan as well, and after giving him a ride around town, donated enough dogs to last him the rest of summer!
Now Jaequan’s business, Mr. Faulkner’s Old-Fashioned Hot Dogs, is not only up and running, he says he’s here to stay. “It’s not about the money [anymore]. This is just something I enjoy doing.”
He also says, in wisdom beyond his eighth grade years that should make you fucking weep, that his stand serves a larger purpose.
“My teacher was always saying that black people always got a bad name on their shoulders, no matter [what]. We can go into a store, like oh, we gotta watch him,” he said.
Faulkner recounts a time when he was in a grocery store and was falsely accused of stealing gum.
“We looked behind me and found that the security was following us the whole time. They thought I put it in my pocket and I was going to leave,” Faulkner said. “I was thinking, ‘I can’t be having a bad name on me just because I’m black.’ So I’m doing something good for blacks so they can get a good name too.”
Jaequan wants everyone to know that you are welcome to stop by his hot dog stand any time this summer at 1510 Penn Avenue North in Minneapolis. He’s open Monday through Friday, from about 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
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