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'Hot dog wars' erupt at Durham street corner

Posted October 26, 2010

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— Two Durham hot dog vendors working in the same spot across from Duke University Hospital have a major beef with each other and want the other one to move, but neither is budging.

At the corner of Erwin Road and Fulton Street, David Leeds and Steven Pruner fight for customers.

“I have the best hot dog in Durham,” said Pruner, who owns Outlaw Hotdogs.

“I’m a heck of a friendly guy. I look forward to doing business with you,” said competitor Leeds, who owns Dave’s Quickie Dogs.

Pruner was the first to put his cart at the corner, but he does not have a permit.

“I’ve been working this corner, building business relationships and selling hot dogs for three months,” he said.

Hot dog 'Hot dog wars' erupt at Durham street corner

Leeds, who says the location “is one of the finer corners for selling hot dogs in all of Durham,” decided to put his cart there, too, but with a vending permit.

“I understand the need for the law. The fact that it is a law makes me do it, because I am a law-abiding man,” Leeds said.

Pruner said he believes the requirements to get the proper certification are too burdensome and violate the state constitution. He particularly doesn't agree with a state rule that says vendors have to be affiliated with a permitted kitchen, like a restaurant.

“I am fighting for freedom and the right for every citizen to work,” Pruner said. “It’s really a prohibition against starting this job.”

Pruner has had several run-ins with the city and county and was ordered to stop operating, but he ignored the orders and renamed his business “Outlaw Hotdogs.”

The county health department is in the process of getting an injunction against Pruner.

“The rules are what they are,” said Marc Meyer, Durham County’s food and lodging supervisor. “We don’t really have the luxury of debating the rules that are enforced.”

Some of Pruner’s regulars said they don't see the need for a permit.

“I trust him. We had a long talk,” said customer Calvin Perkins. “He was in the Navy, so he’s pretty much clean.”

Others disagree, including one of Leeds’ customers, Teli Santini.

“If you are licensed, I know you are legal and that you go through the proper channels,” Santini said.

“Hot dog wars, wow!” said a man walking by, who did not buy food from either vendor.

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  • ncguy Oct 28, 2010

    Jesse jones are the best- I just can't find the chili anymore :(

  • sundown6074 Oct 28, 2010

    A friend of mine just told about this story and trust me you don't want to eat anything Pruner has had his hands on.
    Hey Pruner you'll never learn that you have to follow the rules no matter what is that you always think that you are above and beyond.

  • SavedbyGODsGrace Oct 27, 2010

    This nation is a nation governed by laws. Without laws, chaos rules. This person, Pruner, is nothing but a law-breaker, plain and simple. The other gentleman is going by the book, doing it right! He has his permits and he, probably, is paying his taxes.
    The last time that I looked, this country has a free market system. Competition is a good thing. Better product at lower prices. The consumer benefits from competing businesses. Pruner has an unfair advantage, by not playing by the rules. He probably can keep his prices lower by not having to pay any government fees. But, like it or not, those agencies exist for the safety of the consumer.
    I will thank him for serving our country, if that is true. And if it is, he should understand that rules need to be followed. With all that being said, I won't buy from a person who is doing things illegally.

  • ratherbnwpb Oct 27, 2010

    Hey beachboater, At Joey D's we grill our hotdogs on an open flame on a built in gas grill not boil them like every other cart in Durham. Our dogs come from a hot dog company that has been in business for over 140 years and uses select cuts of beef and pork. These guys are serving you boiled hotdogs that have been thrown one after the other in the same water. By the way our cart has three sinks that has hot running water and nothing gets touched with bare hands. If their too cheap to buy gloves to handle the food with then think on how they may be cutting corners in other ways. So for that you are willing to pay 3 bucks. I don't know about you but I wouldn't take my chances at getting sick from what they provide the public amd how they handle their food. That's the whole purpose of the Health Department monitoring food vendors, so that they protect you and I from getting deathly ill.
    joeydsnydogs

    Got some samples to go along with that promotion? Ill take two all the way!

  • joeydsnydogs Oct 27, 2010

    Hey beachboater,
    At Joey D's we grill our hotdogs on an open flame on a built in gas grill not boil them like every other cart in Durham. Our dogs come from a hot dog company that has been in business for over 140 years and uses select cuts of beef and pork. These guys are serving you boiled hotdogs that have been thrown one after the other in the same water. By the way our cart has three sinks that has hot running water and nothing gets touched with bare hands. If their too cheap to buy gloves to handle the food with then think on how they may be cutting corners in other ways. So for that you are willing to pay 3 bucks. I don't know about you but I wouldn't take my chances at getting sick from what they provide the public amd how they handle their food. That's the whole purpose of the Health Department monitoring food vendors, so that they protect you and I from getting deathly ill.

  • chaotickitty82 Oct 27, 2010

    beachboater said: "Justs watched the video. I believe I want to see gloves also. Where can they wash their hands. I mean, everybody's get a little hiney itch occasionally."

    Ewwww, LOL, but soooo true, wash those hands and don some gloves!!!

  • Garnerwolf1 Oct 27, 2010

    Glad we have something important to talk about.

  • anonemoose Oct 27, 2010

    Dog Fighting at noon. No admission, and the cps will even be there watching.

  • beachboater Oct 27, 2010

    Justs watched the video. I believe I want to see gloves also. Where can they wash their hands. I mean, everybody's get a little hiney itch occasionally.

    Fighting for his and everybody's contstitutional rights.......nah, he just doesn't want to go through the permitting process like everybody else. Maybe he can't pass the temperature requirements. I don't want someone making me a dog that hasn't washed his hands all day, and isn't wearing gloves.

  • beachboater Oct 27, 2010

    "I don't buy this guys claim that he has the best dog in Durham. I challenge him to prove that. Lets have a dog eating contest with unbiased judges and we'll see who wins the weenie wars of Durham." joeydsnydogs

    Well Joey, first, I don't know of any food made north of the Mason-Dixon line that can compare with food made south of it, including hot dogs.

    I looked at your website, WOW $4 for a dog with chile and slaw? I'm not in the "big city" but that sounds like Disney World prices. Am I that far out of touch? Is that the going rate in Durham?

    Just curious.

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