'Hot Dog King' continues to cut the mustard in front of Metropolitan Museum of Art

Dan Rossi, the "Hot Dog King," is a Vietnam veteran who has endured hardships but has been selling hot dogs since the '70s, thanks to a WWI-era NYC program that gave disabled vets vending permits.

Ashley Mastronardi

Nov 10, 2023, 12:18 AM

Updated 251 days ago


You can’t get more American than a Vietnam veteran selling hot dogs.  And the fact that he has to sleep in his van to protect his spot in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art?  Well, you can’t get more New York than that.  An old WWI law in New York grants disabled veterans vending permits.  Dan Rossi – aka the Hot Dog King - jumped on that bandwagon in the 1970s. 
“In New York, if you want to make it in business, you have to be tough,” Rossi told News 12 New York. 
And that he is. At one point, he had almost 500 carts and was earning $250,000. Then, he says the city took away all but one of his cart permits. 
“If you’ve been ever homeless, which I was, if you’ve ever been there, you never want to go there again. So I make sure I’m here so my wife’s got a roof over her head,” he said. 
His wife lives in Westchester and since he sleeps in his van every night, he sees her on Sundays.  His daughter, Elizabeth Rossi, a veteran who served in Iraq, legally owns the cart next to him.  Despite making so little off of the carts, they stay in the business in hopes that the city will give them back their permits.  Also, they like being known for something so “New York.” 
“It sounds silly, but so many people from all over the world just want to come to New York City, experience the MET and have a hot dog on the steps. It’s like this bucket list thing for them,” his daughter said. 
Any many people specifically come to the area to enjoy Rossi’s hot dogs.  When we were filming, one man from France joked that he came to New York City just to meet Rossi.    The Hot Dog King is parked in front of the Met 364 days a year – the only day they’re not allowed to serve is the day of the Met Gala in May. 

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