While most people are just getting off work, Sed Dickerson is just starting his shift as he prepares for another night on the corner of Hamilton Street and Mission Avenue. Arriving in his blue “Sed’s Delicious Dogs” van, he unhitches his stand, gathers supplies out of the backseat and fires up his generator. Along with pounds of food, he packs an umbrella and LED lights for his cart, as well as a cooler for soft drinks and a rack of potato chips for a side dish. Once his grill is warmed up, the cooking begins.
Just like that, the Logan Neighborhood’s most unique dining option is open for business. It takes 15 minutes for the vacant lot across from Clark’s Cleaners to become a hub for Gonzaga University students looking for a quick bite to eat.
For Dickerson, who’s been serving up hot dogs from his post for three years now, he wouldn’t want it any other way.
“The students have been great,” Dickerson said. “I like to sit and watch the cars go by and meet new people too.”
After seeing the fast-food landscape in the community, Dickerson felt that young adults would appreciate an alternative to pizza and cheeseburgers. So, after finding his mobile cart on Craigslist, he debuted “Sed’s Delicious Dogs” as a quick and affordable option that featured a unique cuisine to the area.
A few weekends and some late nights later, hot dogs became a part of the average GU student’s diet. The long lines that scaled down the sidewalk of Mission Avenue became a routine occurrence, especially during the peak “late night snack” hours of 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.
The overwhelming support Dickerson received opened the door for more business opportunities, including t-shirts and hoodies with his logo design front and center. He even began accepting catering opportunities for graduation parties, birthdays and a few weddings; showing that a good frankfurter fits any occasion in life.
“Whatever the party is, you call us, and we’ll be there,” Dickerson said.
More recently, the success of “Sed’s Delicious Dogs” helped Dickerson through the pandemic.
While most restaurants and small businesses pleaded to stay open, Dickerson had something else on his mind: the safety of “his students”. Understanding the magnitude of the situation, the Spokane native closed shop out of respect for the community’s health.
Ultimately, it was a financial blanket that covered the hardships of unemployment. Dickerson recalls having to restock his supplies after his refrigerator at home malfunctioned, causing hot dogs to spoil. With no other form of income, he relied on his ability to be financially responsible as a self-employed worker to support himself and his family through the pandemic.
“We took a big loss from COVID-19,” Dickerson said. “I was on unemployment for a while, and I used some of my money to bounce back.”
Finances aside, the extended time away from the stand was spent fishing and boating, two of Dickerson’s choice hobbies. He routinely takes summers off from vending, as GU students begin to disperse from campus living. The break from long nights on the street corner is welcomed, as Dickerson is also able to spend quality time with his family.
But this year especially, he couldn’t wait to fire up the grill once more for the Logan Neighborhood. He missed seeing the young, familiar faces that inspired him to start his own business three years ago. It was the college atmosphere that brought Dickerson to the community in the first place, and it’s the reason he continues to come back every August.
Turns out, a lot of Zags missed Dickerson just as much.
“First day I came back, they were so good to me,” Dickerson said. “It was the busiest I’ve ever seen it.”
The support for “Sed’s Delicious Dogs” ranges from hungry customers to Dickerson’s own family as well. His mother, who Dickerson credits his cooking skills to, regularly stops by to help with the setup process. In the past, he’s always had a friend to keep him company through the night.
Most recently, his cousin Tario has pitched in to help facilitate business.
“I had heard he’s been doing this for a while now,” Tario said. “But it’s a whole different experience in person.”
That sentiment may as well exemplify the growth of “Sed’s Delicious Dogs”; once a cool novelty, now an avenue for friends to regularly socialize and for new relationships to form. All while enjoying a brat with melted cheese and caramelized onions sprinkled on top.