Disabled veteran Dan Rossi was once New York’s hot dog king, with the city’s largest selling business and 499 licenses under his belt.
But it all fell apart when the city cracked down on several licensees and revoked all but one of Rossi’s licenses.
Now he is rebuilding the business with a cart in one of New York’s busiest locations – outside the Metropolitan Museum – “one hot dog at a time,” he said The humans of New York.
Disabled veteran Dan Rossi was once New York City’s hot dog king, with the biggest selling business in city history and 499 licenses under his belt
It all fell apart when the 71-year-old city challenged the city’s plans to ban disabled veterans from doing business in the city center. Now he’s rebuilding the business with a cart in one of New York’s busiest locations – outside the Metropolitan Museum – “one hot dog at a time”
Vietnam veteran Rossi was the biggest seller in New York City in the early 2000s, holding 499 licenses which he leased to individual traders.
He denounced the city’s plans to ban ex-servicemen and disabled women from selling in the city center, forcing officials to abandon planned regulations.
Rossi believes this activism made him powerful enemies, including then-mayor Rudy Giuliani, who later stripped him of his 499 permits, leaving him with a mobile food permit, which he still holds.
Rossi’s million dollar life fell apart. His wife suffered a stroke, forcing the business to close. The couple lost their home in Greenwich, Connecticut, and ended up living in a van.
âI went from wealth to misery,â Rossi said.
Vietnam veteran Rossi was the biggest seller in New York City in the early 2000s, selling hot dogs and water to hundreds of locations across the city
In 2007 Dan Rossi returned to selling hot dogs after a two-year hiatus. He borrowed a cart from a friend and parked it outside the Metropolitan Museum
Two years later, in 2007, Rossi was ready to fight again.
He borrowed a cart from a friend and parked it outside the Metropolitan Museum, along Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street in Manhattan.
A permit for the coveted spot, known for its hungry tourists and lack of nearby restaurants, would typically cost around $ 650,000 a year, but Rossi had no intention of paying.
âI am a disabled veteran. I sacrificed myself for this country and I have the right to earn my living like everyone else, âhe explained.
Rossi has prepared legal files filled with arguments as to why he is allowed to sell outside the Met, without paying the city.
Its main argument stems from a civil war-era state law that granted veterans the right to free sales permits, the New York Times reported.
During the first five years there, Rossi spent most of the nights sleeping in the cart.
Authorities attempted to push through laws prohibiting sleeping in a cart, so Rossi moved to his van.
Police also made several attempts to move Rossi, ticketing him, dragging him to court, throwing him in jail and once trying to tow his cart.
But whenever he received a warning or a failure, Rossi moved closer to the steps of the museum.
Two of Rossi’s carts are now in the spotlight at the center of the museum – one run by Rossi himself and the other by his daughter Elizabeth, also a disabled navy.
The pandemic devastated his business and forced him to shut down the cart for months, only visiting to make sure police hadn’t moved them.
It was recently able to reopen and is now flanked by seven other carts that sell ice cream, halal food, pretzels and more hot dogs.
From riches to rags to stability, Rossi’s business now supports three generations of his family and provides enough income to survive the off-season winter.
âThey are not going to beat me. Not yet. I may not be the Hot Dog King anymore, but I still have a lot of fighting in me. I will be back. One hot dog at a time.
From wealth to rags to stability, Rossi’s business now supports three generations of his family and provides enough income to survive the off-season winter.