Famous River Hot Dog escapades!

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by dontoe, Jun 28, 2005.

  1. dontoe

    dontoe 3/4 ton status GMOTM Winner

    May 7, 2004
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    Hickory, N.C.
    Frankfurters fuel feud
    Bucks County Courier Times

    He says he's just a normal guy aside from the floating hot dog stand.

    For nearly two decades, Greg Crance has spent his summers hawking burgers, sodas, snacks and, above all else, frankfurters to legions of tubers and kayakers in the middle of the Delaware River.

    And yes, he does relish the job.

    "I get to spend my days on the river, meeting people ... and make a little income doing it," the self-proclaimed Famous River Hot Dog Man said. "Maybe people are jealous, dude. I have all that."

    Jealous or not, a number of critics are trying their hardest to take all that away from him.

    A loose coalition of riverfront residents and local officials say Crance is violating laws and marring what would otherwise be a perfectly lovely stretch of the Delaware with his Famous River Hot Dog escapades.

    "It's disrupted the way we live," said Marianne Fluehr, whose home faces the section of the river where Crance operates. "We can no longer just sit out on our deck or enjoy a peaceful Saturday or Sunday afternoon. There's bullhorns, there's all-terrain vehicles, there's gas smells, there's any manner of stuff going on over there."

    The public health officials who oversee food establishments like Crance's are staying out of the fray for now.

    But leaders in Tinicum, the Bucks County municipality closest to the waterborne concession stand, plan to act soon against Crance.

    He's prepared for what's threatening to become the Great River Wiener War of 2005.

    "I may not have the financial resources the government has," the former Marine said this week. "But I've got the fight."

    George Washington's celebrated crossing of the Delaware aside, peace once reigned over this river and its denizens.

    Crance, 40, who lives in landlocked Upper Southampton and runs a cell phone store when he's not serving up hot dogs, said the waterway long has been an important place for him to unwind.

    "When I get on the river, all my troubles go away," he said.

    Hot dogs hold a similar place in his heart. Ask him how much he enjoys a good frank, and he clutches his belly with both hands and grins.

    He found a way to combine those two loves in 1987, when he reached an agreement to run concessions for Bucks County River Country, a Point Pleasant company that rents tubes and other watercraft to rivergoers.

    Soon, Crance was making a name for himself selling his hot dogs and other refreshments at a forested, gnarled finger of an island he's now in the process of buying.

    The Hot Dog Man's stand now floats - it would face more regulations on shore - in nearly knee-deep water just north of Point Pleasant, the island blocking it from homes on the Pennsylvania side.

    Several customers last Saturday raved about the setup.

    "Oh my God, I just thought it was so unique," said bikini-clad Gail Ross of Philadelphia after she dropped her tube on the island's edge to wait in line for food. "It's pretty wild."

    David Buxton, who hails from Cumbria in northern England and was visiting New Jersey for a family reunion, sat nearby at a picnic table hauled into a few inches of water while he enjoyed lunch.

    "Being a visitor, certain things you associate with America," he said between bites, "and hot dogs is one of them."

    Crance said when the weather's good, so many people rent tubes to float down the river that it can look like a bowl of Fruit Loops.

    On a lucky day, he said, he can serve up to 1,000 customers, many willing to pony up soggy money for their lunch.

    His customers may be pleased, but Crance has a list of enemies.

    It started when Bucks County River Country changed hands, and Crance subsequently sued new owner Dan Breen in 2002 over issues like advertising for the floating hot dog stand.

    Breen declined to answer most questions about Crance last week, saying the legal matter is settled. He said he has no problem with Crance "as long as he stays off our property."

    While Crance and Breen were fighting it out in court, many who live in the swanky homes along the Delaware were stewing.

    Hot Dog Man said he's still puzzled about why he went so many years without upsetting anyone.

    Fluehr, who bought her Bridge Five Lane home in 2000, said that's because Crance used to run a "benign" operation that let riverfront residents live in peace.

    That's since changed, she said.

    Fluehr choked up a little as she rattled off her concerns, which include noise pollution, litter in the water and worries that Crance is turning the nearby island into a "carnival."

    She's seen campers there and heard all-terrain vehicles on the island.

    Crance can rattle off a list of defenses.

    His operation may be noisier now, but that's because he has to use a bullhorn to lure customers to his stand since public pressure forced him to take down the signs that used to direct people to it.

    And he said the river's cleaner than it would be without him. Many people tubing and boating on the Delaware bring their own food and would leave garbage behind even if he wasn't there, he said.

    He and his staff - including his four teenage sons - clean up whatever trash they see, he said.

    "Take away the Hot Dog Man and all those tubers, there'll be no control over them," Crance said.

    "I have no intentions of any expansion," he said. "I'm just going to sell my food floating off my boat."

    Questions about how much he really stays on the boat are fueling much of the controversy, though.

    Fluehr said Crance often operates his concession business from the island itself, not from the river.

    That could be crucial, because if officials find him doing so, Crance would be subjected to Pennsylvania rules for food establishments.

    "He touches land or he tries to set up something on an island that is in the Pennsylvania jurisdiction, or in Bucks County's jurisdiction, then he's fair game," said Andy Schafer, chief of the Bucks County Health Department's environmental sanitation division.

    But Crance makes sure to keep his hot dog stand on the water, which could give him the legal cover he needs to keep operating.

    New Jersey offers licenses and inspections for boat-borne food establishments, and Crance is quick to show off his paperwork from Hunterdon County.

    John Lukens, who works at that county's health department, said the Famous River Hot Dog Man is in good terms with him.

    "They are inspected and have been inspected routinely for the last 10 or more years," he said. "They've always been OK."

    Tinicum leaders, though, say that's not OK with them.

    The township is making plans to get the Hot Dog Man off the river, though Supervisor Boyce Budd declined to give away the strategy.

    "I don't know if it would be productive to spell it all out," he said.

    Crance, however, said he's not giving up.

    "I think they're overextending their authority, I think they're the ones breaking the law," he said. "I'm a businessman with a family and livelihood put in peril, and I'm going to do what it takes to stay afloat."

    Brian Callaway can be reached at 215-345-3060 or bcallaway@phillyBurbs.com.

    June 28, 2005 5:29 AM
  2. kyser_soze

    kyser_soze 1/2 ton status

    Sep 4, 2004
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    KC Missouri
    Just because people spend bucoo bucks on riverfront property doesent mean that they own the river as well. OMG people having fun with atv's that must be against the law. I hope the guy wins out.
  3. firefighter184

    firefighter184 1/2 ton status

    Apr 5, 2003
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    The Barrio
    That would be a great job. Hope he wins out.
  4. diesel4me

    diesel4me 1 ton status Premium Member

    Jul 24, 2003
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    america--land of the free.....yeah,right..

    I swear,It seems every time someone finds a way to have fun while making a living,every person who hates going to work every morning does their best to shoot them down,and put them out of bussiness..its happenned to a few of my friends,myself,and many others who thought they found their niche in life,only to find --unless you go to work for someone else will you be accepted and considered a true "worker"....

    if your an entrepenour,and try to start your own bussiness at home,suddenly all your neighbors are against you--and the town comes up with 50 laws,permits,penalties,zoning laws,etc,to put you out of bussiness...people HATE seeing anyone have a good time while working--and especially if it is profitable..whether it really affects them or not,they will complain..

    They say its the "land of the free"...bull--its the land of the RICH--everyone else need not apply...they encourage people to stary their own bussinesses--then tax them out of existance,or tell you you cant do it here,etc..its a farce.. :frown1:

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