Think you know hot dogs?
Wait til you try Perros Paisas, the national hot dog of Colombia. It has everything..including pineapple chunks! “JP & Me” asks five questions of Andres Jaramillo, whose new food truck, also called Perros Paisas, has Boston’s Colombian community lining up for more.
K: So, Perros Paisos? Not your typical ball park hot dog?
A: Not even close! A hot dog in the US is a hot dog and a bun. Perros Paisas comes with melted cheese, mustard, and a coleslaw-like salad that is prepared with a special recipe. But there is more! It also comes with pineapple sauce, hard-boiled quail eggs, crushed potato chips, mayonnaise, tomato salsa, and crushed bacon.
K: Wow, that’s a lot! Why sell these in Boston?
A: There’s a big Colombian population here, with most of us living in East Boston.* The idea for selling them here came from a guy I play soccer with. I made him a Perros Paisos one day and he inhaled it. He said, “You should sell these after every soccer game. Everyone will buy them.” They did and before long my sister’s friends started coming over to the house asking to buy some. I knew I had a business when complete strangers started texting me and asking if they could place orders!
Editor’s note: There are approximately 7000 Colombian immigrants in Boston.
K: So it’s been easy to start a business?
A: Yes and no. It was easy to know that I had a good business idea. Because everyone’s doing food trucks in Boston right now, it was also easy to know that that was how I wanted to sell Perros Paisos. Everything else, from financing to planning to permitting, has been hard.
K: What did JPNDC do for you?
A: They helped me understand all the things you need besides passion to start a business. I thought all I needed to do was buy a truck, make some modifications to it, and, bam, I’d be selling Perros Paisas by the weekend! I was so excited about my idea that I thought everyone else would be excited. But the banks weren’t excited, at least not at first. Carlos Espinoza-Toro, who directs JPNDC’s small business services, helped me get a bank excited. In fact, it was through JPNDC’s “shark tank” competition that a bank first became interested. Carlos made sure someone from JPNDC went with me to all the permitting meetings. They served as translator and coach, helping me understand English as well as all the rules, deadlines and requirements. I also signed-up for JPNDC’s free business planning course. That’s helped me learn skills for things like inventory and marketing beyond my soccer team and sister! I tell JPNDC that, now that I’ve found them, I’m never letting them go!
K: What would you tell an immigrant who wants to open a business?
A: Do it! But be patient and stay positive. There’s a lot of pride in owning your own business. I feel like my truck, which I’m calling Perros Paisos, will help my friends have a little taste of home and maybe even give some of them jobs. But there is so much more to it than cooking and hiring your friends. There are things you have to do that I guarantee you you will never have thought about and when you’ve never done this before and don’t speak English well, it can be really hard. But if you work with someone like JPNDC, you’ll be able to do it! And if you get hungry while you’re working on your own business, stop by mine for what I guarantee will be the best hot dog you’ve ever tasted!