The Lunch Box serves hot dog staple, creative dishes

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BENNINGTON, VT. >> Since July 5, a new midday meal spot has been serving hot dogs on Main Street.

Kim West operates The Lunch Box hot dog wagon near Oldcastle Theatre and across from Citizens Bank. She used to cook for a daycare and decided to open the food gig after a friend couldn't make use of the stand. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, West sells all beef hot dogs with standard toppings, chips, soda and water, local pickled eggs and a salad. Occasional specials include cowboy caviar, a bean salad, chilli dogs, chicken tenders, or a spinach wrap with plans to expand for vegetarian options.

"I like to cook and I like to be creative," West said. "I've had good reception. The sky's the limit. I can do whatever I want."

West has a home catering license and said she will remain on Main Street for at least three months. There are about nine designated areas downtown used for vendors, Town Manager Stuart Hurd said. A permit to run a streetside business from April 1 to March 30 cost about $300 and $100 for one month, according to Hurd.

"We've had busier seasons with folks downtown," Hurd said. "The opportunity is there, we just don't see a lot of it."

In the past, hot dog vendors have run shops year round, such as Jim Carroll's "Hound Dogs" and Gabrielle Carle and Fernando Oyola's "Catamout Dogs." Hurd added that Hemmings Motor News used to operate a popcorn stand. Barry Richardson sells popcorn on Main Street and in Manchester, and has done so since 2013.

Hurd said the town will hold a spot for a business if they leave and are expected to return.

West advised that her dishes will transform into comfort food toward the fall season and that she hopes to stay open until November.

In addition to obtaining a permit from the town, food vendors must pass inspection from the Department of Health, pay state sales tax and have a tax identification number, and if the wagon is a trailer, it must be registered and have insurance.

West mentioned that she might be open for the July 21 Midnight Madness event and plans to prepare local beer-battered brat for the 4 Corners North HomeBrew Festival on Aug. 6.

She doesn't have electricity at the stand, but uses steam tables. A plain hot dog is priced at $3; grilled chicken tender on a roll with cooked onions and horseradish aioli, $4.50; spaghetti salad, $2.50; pickled eggs, $1.50; chips and a drink, $100. A special for two hot dogs, a side and a drink runs for $8.50 and a chicken tender on a roll, side and drink costs $9.00. Lunch menu varies throughout the week and month.

West was closed on Thursday due to the hot weather, and keeps The Lunch Box Facebook page up-to-date with specials and closings, as well as the option to preorder some dishes. Find the social media page for more information.

—Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.


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