After local entrepreneurs Amanda and Colten Hart rode out the pandemic with temporary business schemes like mask making and temperature check stations, they recently launched a long-term business called Rescue Dog, a hot dog food truck that they designed for franchising.
Their business partner, Bob King, found a rare 1972 Gerstenslager fire truck, and about four months later it’s now a promotional vehicle for their food truck business, which donates a portion of its sales to the Humane Society of Northwest Montana.
King originally purchased the truck to add to his car collection, but the Harts ran with its theme to start a business centered around firefighting, rescue dogs and hot dogs.
“The whole theme started with the fire truck,” Amanda Hart said. “It made sense with the rescue dog and we’re pretty community minded and we love to help where we can. This just happened to tie in with that.”
In addition to Humane Society donations, the business will also give a 10% discount to first responders and plans to feed firefighters from South Kalispell Fire Department on May 10.
While the partners originally planned to convert the fire truck into a food truck, they realized it would be simpler to start fresh with a brand new trailer and use the fire truck as a promotional vehicle. Trailers also made the franchise concept more attainable.
“Bob has been in franchising for 35 years and he did really well for himself,” Hart said. “We thought this idea was franchise-able and it was affordable to get into.”
Every Rescue Dog franchise must use the business model of giving a portion of sales to a local animal shelter, and Hart says they are in the process of selling their first franchise.
Each franchisee will have a territory of about 100,000 people to cover, and the Harts narrowed down seven hot dog recipes that would be easy and affordable enough for franchisees.
The eight-inch, one-third-pound, all-beef hot dogs come in flavors like jalapeno, pizza and chili, served on a toasted bun with cream cheese and a ranch dill chip dip.
Rescue Dog also serves a Huckleberry Hound dessert, which is a warm glazed donut with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, huckleberry sauce, berries and a salted caramel drizzle.
The Harts say the dessert has been so popular that they plan to start a separate Huckleberry Hound truck and franchise with eight different variants.
In addition to hot dogs and desserts, the truck will also sell local jam, the spice used for the hot dogs and merchandise like T-shirts and cups.
The Harts plan to take the truck across the valley, including the courthouse in Kalispell, Lions Park, Glacier Park International Airport and elsewhere. They also plan to do weddings and corporate events.
For more information or to order online, visit www.dogsforacause.com.