Minnesota Nice: Minneapolis helps teen entrepreneur triumph over a #PermitPatty

Jaequan Faulkner, age 13, owner of Mr. Faulkner's Old-Fashioned Hot Dogs (Credit: Facebook)

In a year when enterprising black kids have had the police called on them for everything from mowing lawns to selling water, all in the name of not having permits, the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota flipped the script on a wannabe #PermitPatty by helping a young man start a business.

Jaequan Faulkner has been cooking and selling hot dogs outside his home to raise money for new clothes every summer since 2016. This year, however, some hot dog hater decided to call authorities on the 13-year-old and have his stand shut down.

In a surprising twist, instead of putting an end to his hot dog stand, the Minneapolis Department of Health started making calls to help him get his business certified.

“They worked with a couple groups in the area, Northside Economic Opportunity Network (NEON) I know was involved, Appetite for Change, trying to support Jaequan and what he’s doing,” Logan Ebeling, the Minneapolis health inspector, said to NBC affiliate KARE. “He’s a great kid.”

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With the help of the city, and with a permit in hand, Jaequan reopened his stand, which was rechristened “Mr. Faulkner’s Old-Fashioned Hot Dogs.”

Jaequan was trained by a health inspector who showed him how to ensure the temperature of the hot dogs is above 140 degrees. The inspector also brought him a meat thermometer and helped to set up a hand-washing station, according to CNN.

The city’s department of health contacted NEON, a nonprofit that works to empower underserved entrepreneurs in the community. NEON worked with Jaequan to explain everything from how to start a business, to understanding the various types of food permits. They also started a Facebook page for the business.

“We tried to gauge if it was this kid really wanted to have a business or if he was just trying to earn some money,” said Ann Fix, program manager for the Northside Food Business Incubator at NEON. “Because he was so passionate about having a go at this and owning a business, the city offered to help.”

She has also been working with Jaequan to teach him business skills and how to create a plan for the future. They are even setting up his business plans for next summer

“This young man is so full of gratitude,” Fix said. “He is absolutely terrific to work with.”

Two years ago, Jaequan asked his uncle, Jerome Faulkner, if he could use his hot dog roaster. His uncle and aunt told him he could use it and he started making hot dogs and selling them in the front yard.

“It’s the cooking and the people,” he said. “I see someone go by with a frown on their face. I’m there with a smile, then I see a smile on their face. I just made a smile on somebody’s face by selling them a hot dog.”

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Jaequan’s food permit lasts for 10 days, after which, he’ll be moving his stand to a series of new spots.

The North Minneapolis police precinct has sponsored him for the next permit, so he can sell hot dogs in front of the station. The Urban League and a community church will sponsor his next permits, which will get him through summer until it is time to go back to school.

During a time of so many haters, it’s cool to see an example of “Minnesota Nice” being out in full force.