On Wednesday morning, just across the street from the new Richmond County courthouse, a 64-year-old retired health and life insurance agent sold his first hot dog.
Marty Gordon of Martin’s Hot Dogs said he never planned to open a hot dog cart — but it was a calling he couldn’t ignore.
“Two years ago, God says to me, ‘feed the children,’” Gordon said. “Ten days later, I got the same thing, but stronger.”
So he started looking for an outlet, and only a short time later discovered an article about a summer food program for children in need.
“I kept thinking … what happens when they’re not at school?” Gordon said. “I can’t have a freezer full of steaks, chicken … things like that and know a child is hungry.”
Gordon stumbled upon Northview Harvest Ministries, a program that later fronted the Restoring Hope Center, and was based out of Laurinburg.
“I had no job, so I made my own,” Gordon said.
Through the ministry, Gordon found a direction for his calling — and now he sells hot dogs to donate a portion of his profit to children in need.
“Every week, 10 percent of my money goes to children,” Gordon said.
Martin’s Hot Dogs began in Laurinburg, just a block and a half away from the courthouse, where it stayed in business for about two years. Gordon, originally from Baltimore, Md., said he recently moved to Rockingham, and was spending around $150 in gas to drive the distance.
One day, a local Rockingham attorney (and frequent customer of Gordon) suggested he move his cart to Rockingham.
“So I looked for another location,” Gordon said as he sat on a plastic cooler beneath a colorful umbrella on Thursday morning. “I went to Kenneth Goodman and he talked with me and gave me this spot.”
Goodman, owner of R.W. Goodman furniture company, said he sees the vendor as a worthy cause.
“It’s a novelty in one way,” Goodman said. “You see a lot of street vendors in larger cities and (Gordon has) a good idea. He wanted to know if he could use a space in the lot. He’s trying to do something entrepreneurial so I thought it was a great way to help him out … It also provides a service, to some degree, to the community. Somebody’s downtown looking for a quick bite to eat, and it just adds one more way to do that.”
And to Gordon, the business is no joke.
“I work hard at getting the best products I can,” he said. “My hot dogs are all beef. My chili is all beef.”
The new vendor even admits to having a few secret recipes.
“I’ve been cooking for 40 years,” he said. “I never wanted to be a cook, but I just enjoy cooking … You give somebody something good and they’ll come back.”
Gordon said he is hopeful that this business will be a success.
“We’re here for a purpose,” he said. “Life will take you down many different roads. It’s what’s inside you that will come out … I’m selling hot dogs and feeding kids. That’s why I wake up in the morning. That’s my mission right now.”
The new hot dog stand is located in the R.W. Goodman parking lot on East Franklin Street, directly across from the new courthouse, and is open between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
— Staff Writer Mallory Brown can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.