Hot Dogs Headed Back To Cisco Beach, Board of Health Votes

Brian Bushard •

Cisco Beach Aerial
Photo by Kit Noble

Cisco Beach will once again have a hot dog stand this summer following the Board of Health’s approval on Thursday of a variance to the town’s food code for Jack Decker’s Nantucket Beach Dogs, just one week after the Nantucket Health Department said it would enforce the code, effectively banning food trucks on the beach.

The catch: Decker must provide a portable hand-washing station equipped with a five-gallon tank that can keep water hot for four hours, a soap dispenser and paper towel holder.

“Nantucket Beach Dogs is a very simple operation,” Decker wrote in his proposal to the board. “It has an easy set-up and break-down and takes up minimal space in the Cisco Beach parking lot.”

The Board of Health voted unanimously Thursday night to approve Decker’s request for variance for Nantucket Beach Dogs, the mobile hot dog cart he has operated at Cisco Beach since 2011.

Health Department staff also supported the variance, recommending the board consider approving Decker’s proposal because the cart is an open-air establishment that involves no food preparation, while food handling is kept to tongs and gloves.

The vote came one week after the town Health Department informed the Land Bank it would enforce the section of the town’s food code requiring bathroom facilities with running hot water for all establishments, including the hot dog stand at Cisco Beach. The Land Bank had previously requested a variance to exempt the stand from that town code last month, though that bid was unanimously denied by the board last month.

That decision to enforce the code, however, had town officials split. At a public meeting last week, Board of Health member Ann Smith asked “why we’re being such sticklers” about the regulation, while John Hedden, the town’s chief environmental officer and acting health director, called for a “permanent solution which would be a regular bathroom.” What made the difference for the Board of Health last week was the lack of hot water in the current set-up. For the board, a pair of parking lot porta potties and hand sanitizer simply wasn’t enough.

While the Land Bank had considered a more official portable restroom facility, it was ultimately dismissed due to the lack of plumbing and power at the beach, according to Land Bank special projects coordinator Eleanor Antonietti.

The Land Bank typically accepts requests for two or three mobile food operations on the beach per year, including Nantucket Beach Dogs, and in recent years, Sean Durnin’s Sushi Sean truck and newcomer Nantaco. The Land Bank Commission voted earlier this year to approve Decker’s Nantucket Beach Dogs for the upcoming season.

Longtime commission member Allen Reinhard said he has never seen an issue with running a hot dog cart at the beach.

“When this came up, this was out of the blue for the Land Bank,” he said. “The people who had been there the past several years, we were very happy with them.”

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