By Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter 6/27/1996
One of the nicer aspects of taking a vacation and staying home to work on the new house is that I have the opportunity to spend a little more time in Foxboro during the day. These summer days bring many pleasant traditions back to Foxboro joggers, power walkers, Founders Day, Frisbees, kids out of school, concerts, outdoor sports, and on the common, Susan Zakhary’s “Common Dog” hot dog stand.
It’s been a while since I last had lunch on the Common, and I really enjoyed my latest visit. I noticed people were having little picnics on the Common, and all the kids wanted slush and hot dogs from Susan. One woman commented to Susan that her child refuses to eat hot dogs at home, but readily gobbles them up at the stand because he loves “the hot dog lady.” The hot dog stand seemed to be the focal point of the common that afternoon.
The Common Dog has been on Foxboro Common for many years; it was run by two college coeds, and then taken over by another Foxboro resident. Susan purchased the business in 1993 and this is her fourth year on the common.
I like the cart because I think it’s a nice thing. The hot dog cart is a tradition on the Common, and Susan’s many customers and friends constantly tell her how much they enjoy it. There might be many places in town to get a soda or a hot dog, but there’s no denying the novelty of the cart. In a mall-ified, busy world that Lisa Simpson calls, “Our super-accelerated instant oatmeal one hour photo society,” the hot dog cart hearkens back to simpler times. Back to the good old days.
Susan thinks of the Common Dog as much more than a job. She really enjoys being out there. She’s made many friends working on the Common. Bankers, town officials, business people, clerks and many other Foxboro residents regularly stop by for lunch. Kids love her.
“I got a really nice welcome back during the first two weeks,” she told me. “A lot of people came right over to say they were happy to see me.” Several people said, “Now we know it’s summertime, because you’re back on the Common!” She adds that “People from out of town tell me that their town also has a Common or park area, but that this cart seems to make the common more special.”
Susan’s generosity with the cart is well-known. She has used the cart at many charity events, and always donates a percentage of the profits whenever she works someone else’s non-profit event. Her work with the discretionary fund and Foxboro’s seniors is also well-known.
Running the little hot dog cart might seem easy, but it’s not. Susan spends many nights making runs to the supermarkets and wholesale clubs for the many items she needs. She is very conscious of her customer’s needs and requests; she’s added certain types of sodas and juices because people asked for them; she always has chopped onions and sauerkraut on hand (and tells how customers chide her if she runs out!) and makes sure to stock celery salt for the few folks who want it. She’s also careful to stock only the freshest and best products; her all-meat hot dogs are very popular and hardly the “chicken dogs” associated with food carts, and her slush is picked up right from the manufacturer. There are many easier ways to make a living. Susan does this because she wants to. While the stand has occasionally got the wrong kind of attention, the overall consensus of the people she serves seems to be that they enjoy the cart and want her there on the Common.
The little cart is on the Common for such a short time every year, and seems to make so many Foxboro residents very happy. They like the novelty of the cart, and it adds to the “hometown” feeling of the downtown area The Common Dog makes summer in Foxboro a little more special.