Cesar Ascarrunz, Failed Mayoral Candidate, Fights for Mission's Only Legit Hot Dog Cart

Categories: Food, Politics
You can take a man's hot dog truck, but you can't take his spirit.
Cesar Ascarrunz is the Don Quixote of mayoral candidates -- dreaming the impossible dream, valiantly stabbing at City Hall like a windmill again and again, with no chance of success. Much to the chagrin of a Mission cardboard collector who posted Ascarrunz's campaign poster on his beat-up truck, Ascarrunz lost yet another election in November, with just 537 votes.

But Ascarrunz is still fighting to serve San Franciscans; this time, he's cooking up a plan to keep serving San Franciscans something more than a political promise: the ever-so-tasty bacon-wrapped hot dog.

Among his many pastimes, Ascarrunz owns the Big Bertha of hot dog carts -- a hulking silver contraption that could pass for a trailer home. It sits at 19th and Mission streets and you can spot it during the day in the 24th Street BART station plaza. But shortly after losing the mayor's race, the city's Department of Public Works sent Ascarrunz a letter, saying his permit to operate the hot dog cart had been denied.

According to the letter, Ascarrunz had failed to apply for his new permit within 90 days, as required by the DPW, which has taken over the food truck permitting program from the Police Department. Ascarrunz told us that the cart cost him $25,000, which he views as a community service, allowing four different operators to sell hot dogs from it while making profit.

Thumbnail image for cart.jpg
Knowing a good hot dog certainly looks good on the résumé
Until now, this was the only legal hot dog cart in the Mission with the necessary food facility permit. (We've written about the travails of selling legit hot dogs before -- turns out, Missionites tend to favor the illegal franks.)

In a letter posted online, the DPW claims that it sent Ascarrunz two "courtesy letters" last spring, explaining the new rules. But Ascarrunz told SF Weekly he never received those letters. "Somebody, they didn't put the name in the computer, so the Health Department, the Public Works, nobody tell me that I have to apply again or renew or nothing."

Ascarrunz, never one to walk away from a what seems a losing battle, says he will appeal the permit denial at a Board of Appeals hearing on Jan.18 at 5 p.m. in City Hall, room 416.

Ascarrunz assures us a cultural gem of the city will be lost if he doesn't get his permit. "It's a gift; it's a tourist attraction," he swoons.

Let's see if this crusade goes better than his bid for mayor.

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