INDIA JOHN, Editor In Chief
I was immediately attracted to the bright yellow trailer by the library the first time I saw it last Sunday. As I biked down College Street, closer to Artie B’s Chicago Style Hot Dog stand, I made a mental note to check it out at some point. Once I reached olfactory range I decided that I would immediately check “hot dog stand” off my mental list.
As I parked my bike I was boisterously greeted by the owner, Artie Belke, who immediately offered me a cup of delicious lemonade, and asked how he could help me. As I was deciding what to order he gave me a cautious glance and asked if I was a vegetarian. I assured him I wasn’t and proved that by ordering a chili-dog with cheese, which in turn proved to me that I could never become a vegetarian. It was delicious, especially washed down with a glass of tart lemonade that Artie makes himself with grapefruit, oranges “and of course lemons.”
Artie is a retired fiber-optics engineer. During his career, was moved around 16 times because of business, and can proudly boast that he “helped bring fiber to Florida in 1986.” When I commented on how different fiber-optics seemed from hot dogs, he laughed and said that food is the family business.
“My mother has a restaurant up in Eagle River, and my family has a great pizza place in Chicago.” Artie opened up a restaurant several years ago in Afton, but had to shut down due to “landlord problems” he described with a shake of his head. The move to running a mobile food stand, however, is one that Artie has enjoyed immensely, and considers a hobby. “It’s just fun. It’s so nice to get out there and meet people. I just really enjoy it. Especially here, this has been great.”
Artie was initially approached by students at the Beloit Farmer’s Market last summer to bring his stand to campus.” I was so confused at first; I didn’t realize there was a college here.” Several weeks ago he made contact with Dean of Students Christina Klawitter, and they arranged a meeting to work out details.
“It was all very simple, and easy to work with them,” he explained. “When I got here tonight they were ready for me, and had a place for me all ready to go.”
As Artie and I talk, several customers, students and staff alike, come and go, ordering Chicago style dogs, hamburgers and lemonade. One security guard shows interest in ordering a Reuben when he returns from rounds, but Artie warned him. “I’ve only got a couple left, they went pretty fast. You got a place to heat it up though? I can give you one to go.” Another sale made, and a happy security guard wanders off to finish his rounds, tin-foil wrapped sandwich in hand.
His first week here, Artie’s expectations were low. “I was going to call it a success if I made 25 sales,” he explained — he made 57. This week Artie included vegetarian options, and business was even better with over 80 sales. “This has been great, just really great,” he says, looking around with a smile.
Artie B’s Chicago Style Hot Dog stand will be making an appearance every Sunday, 2-7 p.m., at the corner of College and Emerson. Artie plans to make arrangements for late night coffee and snacks during finals week, and has also been approached to cater a Frisbee tournament in April.