Working to be top dog
Some people spend decades trying to find a fulfilling career. Clay Cable found the right fit before graduating high school.
In fact, you could say that Cable and his business go together like a hot dog and a bun. See for yourself this weekend at the Heritage Festival.
Cable owns and operates a food stand that sells Nathan’s hot dogs, and he’s really cutting the mustard with a product and service customers truly relish. That’s obvious by the perfect 5.0 rating Tong’s has on Facebook.
Great name, right? Tong’s slogan is just as catchy: “The Best Franks Since Sinatra”.
Cable hasn’t made many mistakes since grandfather Leon Cable gave him a most unusual gift and some solid-gold guidance.
“Back in 2015 my grandfather got me a hot dog cart from a guy he knew and told me to make some money with it,” Clay recalled. “I had no clue how I would get it started until I decided to do Capitalism and Entrepreneurship as my senior project, which gave me a platform to launch my business from.”
Wisely, Clay started small.
“When I first started it was just going to be a way to make some extra money during high school, but I have really been intrigued by the industry,” Clay said. “Ever since my first festival I have been thinking and trying different ways to make my business stand out so it will grow, and hopefully this will end up being a possible career!”
He’s well on his way, thanks to a helping hand from grandfather Leon.
“He puts so much time and effort into helping me keep this business running, and I couldn’t do it without him,” said Clay, who broke even after three festivals/events.
And he’ll surely stay in the black if he sticks to his commitment to customer service.
“First things first, starting a business is all about positivity and optimism,” Clay said. “Another thing that I have learned about business is making personal connections with my customers. People sure do love a good hot dog, but they also love coming up to a friendly smile, which is what we aspire to do.”
Tong’s sells 100-percent all beef extra large hot dogs for $4, two for $7. For $6 you can get a combo meal of hot dog, chips, and drink.
This summer, Clay will experiment with “Artisanal dogs” – hot dogs topped with items like pico de gallo and sauerkraut.
In doing so, Clay tips his hat to Chipotle Mexican Grill CEO Steve Ells. “Sure I love their food, but the thing that keeps me going back there is how different yet oddly familiar it is compared to other Mexican grills. It is faster and more efficient than other restaurants and I would like to bring something like that to the hot dog world. Steve Ells looked at a burrito and saw unseen potential in it. I feel like I see the same in hot dogs. Don’t get me wrong, making money is a fun thing to do, but the most rewarding part is creating new ideas for something as practical as a hot dog and watching my ideas grow into something great!”
It may take a while for Clay to “ketchup” with Chipotle Mexican Grill’s CEO, but he just might if he sticks to his game plan.
“Personally, I have learned that anything is possible when you have the initiative and mindset to get it done!” Clay said.