For years, Anita Foster talked about quitting her job, and she finally she took the plunge.
In 45 days, from start to finish, she managed — with support from City of Edmonds Parks and Recreation Assistant Director Renee McRae and others in the city — to open her very own hot dog stand. It’s called Up Dog’s.
All-beef Hebrew National hot dogs are sold with chips, soda, ice cream and a few other snack items. She adheres to the KISS system — keep it simple, sweetie. Her customers applaud the simplicity of her menu and the decor of her hot dog truck.
Coming soon on her menu is a specialty dog, called the Up Dog. A baguette is hollowed out and filled with Chili and Cheese, and the hot dog too, of course. “These are popular in Europe,” she says.
Foster feels she has come full circle. Her very first job experience, working at a Carlson Root Beer stand in Michigan City, Indiana, gave her a taste for the business. She was 13 years old.
Foster loved her former job with Dr. William Ehni, a specialist on infectious disease in the Seattle area. A medical assistant, she enjoyed managing the office in addition to helping people become healthier.
A change in ownership, from the private practice to a hospital- owned business, gave her pause to reflect. The shift from healing people to an emphasis on profit and efficiency meant she couldn’t do her job any longer.
Foster’s career change has healed her body and soul. She says she no longer needs to take medication for high blood pressure. The change of venue from a medical office to a spot just outside Off-Leash Area Edmonds dog park has, in her words, “changed my life.”
The month of April was a bit rough — not just the waves that pummeled the beach, but the cold, wind and rain that often drove her into her car to warm up between the few customers who patronized her stand.
“Many tears were shed,” she says, adding that she learned on the job, so to speak. A 126-pound woman can’t wrangle a trailer in tow, or change a flat tire on her rig, without lots of sweat… and a few tears.
On the bright side, the scenery “is amazing,” she says — not to mention the entertainment from kite surfers, and dogs and their owners.
Customers are more frequent and sales improved now that sunshine is in the forecast. While Anita still struggles with expenses, she has lots of ideas on how to make more profits.
“The whole back side of my trailer is a blank pallet,” she says. There is a ready audience of regulars at the dog park, and Foster wonders if advertising could be sold to pet-friendly establishments. Attention dog walkers, pet store owners, veterinarians — stop by her cart if interested.
Sandwiched between Marina Beach Park and the Edmonds Off Leash Dog Park, 470 Admiral Way, Foster is looking forward to a busy weekend. “Come on down and enjoy,” she says.
Up Dogs is open every day this weekend. She may eventually close on Mondays and Tuesdays, for now she’s there every day, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
— Story and photos by Kathy Passage