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Young business owner uses social media to market unconventional hot dogs

September 4, 2018

ELSA — A few years after graduating from Weslaco East High School in 2009, Kimberly Avila packed her belongings into a Ford Focus and moved to Los Angeles where she and her fiancé sang and played guitar, hoping to break into the entertainment industry.

The 27-year-old Weslaco native didn’t stray from Texas for too long, but it was in California where the food truck industry caught her eye, having noticed customers waiting in long lines at mobile eateries selling elotes, tacos and fusion foods.

One night, she and her fiancé Bryan Nunn tossed around the idea of buying a food cart with a few friends they hosted at their Hollywood apartment. Nunn wanted to call it Qweenie, but after exploring the idea of selling hot dogs a little more, reality set in.

“It was going to be super costly, permits and all that,” Avila said. “It was kind of ridiculous.”

Instead, she put the idea of selling unconventional hot dogs, similar to the chorizo and egg inside hot dog buns she grew up eating, on hold.

“The idea never left my mind,” said Avila, who returned to her hometown last year.

Though cautioned by some friends and family about taking a big risk, Avila and Nunn took one anyway, stationing their trailer in the parking lot of Iced Cube, a popular raspa stand in the Delta area.

“We blew up pretty quickly,” Avila said, sitting on a picnic table adjacent to her food trailer as Nunn arranged a hot dog topped with bacon, chorizo and macaroni — one of their five staples — for customers visiting from Colorado who heard about Qweenie on a video produced and posted on Facebook by Neta, a local multimedia website.

“It’s going good,” Avila said of the business traffic. “I’m really, really happy. I feel incredibly blessed.”

Though it’s only been three months since their debut, residents from other parts of the Rio Grande Valley have made their way to buy the hot dogs, some waiting for 30 minutes.

“It’s only two of us. Please be patient,” Avila said. “We’re going as fast as we can.”

For Elijah Jones, 24, who took the long way home after working in Edinburg, the Dirty Dog wrapped in bacon and topped with avocado and pico de gallo, was worth the wait.

“It was worth the drive,” Jones said. “It’s really good.”

She asks her customers, like Jones from Harlingen, where they’re from and found most people travel to Qweenie from cities outside of Elsa after seeing the hot dogs on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

“It’s a good spot. It doesn’t stop anyone from coming,” Avila said, adding that being her own boss and working all week “really has me fulfilled 100 percent,” though she never thought she had a void in her life.

Running the food truck not only pays the rent for their one-bedroom apartment, but it also led them to a line of work they want to stick with for the long run.

“If you have an idea, and you are actually losing sleep over it, I think you just really need to go for it,” Avila said, adding that she has been thinking about purchasing a bigger trailer and eventually opening a restaurant in Weslaco, what she called the “perfect spot because it’s in the Mid-Valley.”

Avila sold some of her purses and clothes to purchase ingredients, and is becoming financial stable.

“With millennials, we’re very hard working, and we have a lot of ideas,” Avila said. “We kind of get pushed around a lot, I think, in the workforce.”

She wants others in similar circumstances to know one thing.

“You’re going to run out of money, it’s going to be stressful, it’s going to be hard, but you can’t give up,” Avila said.

cgarcia@themonitor.com

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