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Biker Jim's Story

Affable Jim Pittenger, aka Biker Jim, repoed cars for a living before he turned to slinging sausages from a spotless stainless steel cart on the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver. His wieners are split down the middle and charred on a gas grill, but most important is this: Jim’s dogs are the antithesis of a ballpark frank. Instead, the charismatic hot dog hero turns out reindeer and wild boar brats, rattlesnake and pheasant, elk and antelope, yak and buffalo—all of them torpedoed with Coca-Cola soaked grilled onions and a swizzle of cream cheese unloaded from the front end of a caulking gun. On the rare occasion he’s hawking his house-made cheesecake, order a slice for now, another one for later, and still one more—just because it’s that good. – Guyot

Interview With Biker Jim

Who are your typical customers?

Cops and crooks, politicians and babysitters, office workers and tourists. Not really a regular, but Anthony Bourdain declared himself a fan of the jowint.

Describe a typical day from start to finish.

Here’s the 100-word-or-less version: Our commissary is six blocks from our spot so at 9:30a.m., we stock and load, head to our street corner and get set up by starting the first pan of onions. Usually around 10:45 to 11:00a.m. we start burning dogs for people. It gets busy for a few hours – we hang for

another hour or two, depending on weather and business. (I keep mentioning weather because we’ve had an unusually cold winter so far.) Head back to the shop, clean, count, restock, and ready up for another day.

What were you doing before this?

Repossessing cars for the last, well, way too long.
What makes your food so special?
Can anything else like it be found in the city? Not on the streets. There are a few restaurants that specialize in wild game but they are quite a bit pricier and you are usually enjoy-

ing steaks, not tube steaks
How woud you define ‘Street Food’?
I think the two words speak for themselves. You could add two more to make it ‘Food on the Street.’ I’m pretty sure street food is starting to come into its own. It’s becoming quite the next trend – watch out comfort food!

The best street food city and why?

Probably New York but I’ve heard Portland is killing it right now. The number of trucks and carts and the variety of food there sounds fantastic.

Your comfort food after a long day?

Foie gras and eggs. (Nah, I wish.) Probably reindeer sausage and waffles.

Advice for an aspiring vendor?

The best quote I’ve heard about street vending is, “This is the hardest I’ve ever worked for free money!” Also check out Roadfood, a great forum site for anyone interested in getting into the food business, whether you’re a pro or a fan.


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