At the beginning of summer 2020 Ryan Fouts, a junior, started his own business. He knew he needed a job but wasn’t exactly sure what kind. He had done odd jobs like chopping tree branches and putting together floors, and saved his money from Holidays. He was originally saving money for car parts for his Jeep, but once his family friend Shane had mentioned owning a business everything had sort of clicked.
He was informed of a guy who was selling a hot dog cart, but it turned out to be the size of a small car and too expensive, and was pointed in the direction of more hot dog cart owners. “I ended up at one in Maze, Kansas from a man that had done it for a living. His was smaller, not the size of a small car. I went ahead and bought the cart from him and with my parents (I was only 15 at the time so I couldn’t drive yet) went down and towed it back,” said Fouts.
As a new business owner Ryan had his doubts. “”I was very nervous at the beginning, as most first time business owners are.” said Fouts. “I was worried that the cart either wouldn’t make a profit, or I would lose all my money from it.” So worried in fact that he debated working at Sonic a time or two.
He can still remember his first day and the excitement he felt. “Definitely one of the coolest moments is seeing my name on the paper for my LLC, that read, ‘Ryan Fouts, CEO’,” said Fouts. “I still remember the first day I forgot my hot dogs and buns, the two most important things, I was worried I wouldn’t sell any.”
He chalked up some pretty great support from family and friends about the business. “I advertised it strongly with the help of my parents online,” said Fouts. “About 30 of my friends and family came out and supported me. I believe I sold about 50 hot dogs that day. It would be one of my lower selling days, but definitely was the most memorable for me.”
Recently after his first days his business took flight and he was getting help from other business owners as well. “After that, the business took off and I began selling downtown twice a week.” said Fouts. “Then one day I was asked to sell at Cooper and Mill. Keep in mind I’m 16, getting asked to sell at a place that sells beer. My busiest nights were at the brewery. I worked every Saturday night from 8-12 a.m. Sometimes 1 if I waited.”
He was helped most by family and surprisingly some strangers too. “Chris, the owner of Shorties Grill downtown, helped me start out with a few of my special dawgs, and helped me sell something more than what anyone else had,” said Fouts. “He supported me and helped me more than I can pay him back for.”
He advises others to keep a business mindset. “You must want to get out and work till 1 am and wake up the next day and work a part from 11-2,” said Fouts. “It’s never going to be easy, but you must have the determination to get there.”
If you would like to support Ryan in his business endeavor, his hot dogs cost three dollars each and specials cost five dollars. Ryan’s Dawgs is open Tuesdays and Thursdays downtown and Saturdays in front of Cooper and Mill.