The New York Times recently wrote about the high fees some of NYC’s hot dog carts pay for prime locations. The highest fee is $289,500 paid for a cart near the Central Park Zoo. Which, as the famous joke goes, is a lot of hot dogs. It’s unclear if the person writing this article understands hot dog economics, because while the first paragraph talks about the $289,500 bid, the thirteenth paragraph quotes an employee of the cart claiming it makes about $750 a week – a shortfall of about $250K a year, more when you take costs into account.
The zoo entrance drew the highest bid among the 150 pushcart sites in public parks, but the operators of four other carts in and around Central Park also pay the city more than $200,000 a year each. In fact, the 20 highest license fees, each exceeding $100,000, are all for Central Park carts.
This sounded familiar to me, and lo, here is a 2009 Gothamist post trumpeting Pasang Sherpa’s bid of $362,201 (North) and $280,500 (South) for the rights to vend at the north and south entrances of the Met. (Alas, Pasang Sherpa’s fledgling hot dog cart empire lasted only 9 months before he was evicted.)