Frank Marston: Owner, Frank’s Franks

Q: How long have you been doing this?

A: Just this summer. 

Q:  How did you get inspired to do this? 

A: I grew up in Boothbay and there was a gentleman named Brud Pierce and he sold hot dogs in Boothbay for 60 years. And he had a cart much like what I built. … Living history would walk up to him, the social aspect of who would frequent his business. There was always a great story, someone who had lived in World War II or a kid that just was excited about having a hot dog. It’s a lot of fun and it attracts a lot of people in a positive way. 

Q: What were you doing before this summer?

A: I do development work and teach at Greater Portland Christian School in South Portland. This is just a summer thing. 

Q: Have you had any of your students come by yet?

A: Actually, yes. 

Q: How was that? 

A: It was a neat out-of-context experience for them. 

Q: And for you? 

A: It was fun to watch them react. 

Q: Is this the first time you’ve gone into business for yourself like this?

A: We’ve had businesses before. Residential remodeling. 

Q: Why hot dogs? 

A: Less physical. As we age, we need to find something we can do for the long term. 

Q: Can you tell me about the cart itself?

A: Sure, it’s a 1960 Cushman truckster and I think its previous life was on a farm. So I bought the rolling chassis and built the hot dog box on it. I have a two -bay steam table and I have four functional sinks and I have a large cooler to hold the meat and the drinks. Storage for buns and chips and Fig Newtons and hot water on board too. 

Q: Did you make it all yourself? 

A: I did build the box. Yeah I did, had a couple of things custom-made for it, but I made it. It’s a 50-year-old cart and they don’t make the parts for it anymore. But there is a pocket of Cushman enthusiasts that network and so I’m in that network and I’m probably the youngest by 20 years. Everybody else, I hope they live long enough to keep me supplied for a while. 

Q: Are there other Cushman hot dog stands?

A: A lot of them are just restored as showpieces. And I’ve seen a couple that are ice cream vending vehicles. I’ve seen one that’s a popcorn vending vehicle. I haven’t seen another one that’s a hot dog cart. 

Q: How do you get the cart here? Do you drive it on the street? Or the sidewalk?

A: It’s registered as a motorcycle. I had to get a motorcycle permit. So I drive it on the street. 

Q: Do you ride motorcycles? 

A: No, and I probably never will. It’s a very strange experience to go to the motorcycle shop to take the class. I was completely out of my element. People wanted to know why I wanted to get my license. I explained what I was doing and they got a kick out of it. 

Q: They didn’t see you as a biker?

A: I was pretty uncomfortable. I don’t think I would be safe on a motorcycle. But this is pretty safe. Top speed is about 17 mph. 

Q: Are all your buns whole wheat? What’s going on there? Is this a healthy hot dog stand?

A: Yeah, the buns are whole grain. We have a choice of kielbasa, which is a turkey kielbasa so it’s really low-fat. It’s six grams of fat. And the hot dogs are Hebrew National. They’re the best I can buy because there’s no filler. It’s a good hot dog, if you can say that. 

Q: How much does a hot dog go for? 

A: Two dollars, 25 cents. 

Q: Are you only outside of Bug Light Park right now?

A: Just outside of Bug Light Park now, but my wife (Deb) and I do special events, festivals. We did the Strawberry Fest in Cape Elizabeth and Family Fun Day in Cape (and 4th of July at Bug Light Park). And we’ll be at a Christian music festival in New Hampshire for four days in August. 

Q: Is the hot dog business what you expected? Have there been any surprises along the road?

A: It’s pretty much what I was thinking. It’s probably going to take some time to build the business. I’m looking at locations that may help the business. Being that it’s mobile, I’d like to have a couple of spots to spread the love.

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

[email protected]

 


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