The city of Minneapolis has helped a 13-year-old who was running a hot dog stand in front of his home obtain a health permit, instead of shutting him down when they received complaints.
Last month, the Minneapolis Health Department began receiving complaints about Mr. Faulkner's Old Fashioned Hot Dogs, a stand run by Jaequan Faulkner, after a local news station ran an "upbeat" story about the teen's entrepreneurial efforts, Daniel Huff, environmental health director for the department, told ABC News.
The department investigates all complaints, so when they saw that the owner of the hot dog stand was a "young teenage boy," the team wanted to treat the case in a similar way that they would a "kid selling lemonade," Huff said.
Since hot dogs are, from a health perspective, "riskier" than lemonade, the department decided to help him get a legal permit so they "could make sure that he was serving food safely," Huff said.
"We wanted to be able to work with him," Huff said. "We wanted him to do it safely, according to the city code and the health code."
The department then reached out to the Northside Economic Opportunity Network, an organization that works with small businesses in north Minneapolis, where Jaequan's home is located.
"Running a business is more than just getting your permit," Huff said. "We wanted to provide him with that support if he wanted to be a businessman."
Jaequan and his uncle then went downtown and met with Ryan Krick, the city's supervisor of health inspections, who provided him with a thermometer, handwashing station and basic food training, Huff said. The teen described Krick as "one of the nicest city members" he's ever met, in an interview with ABC Minneapolis affiliate KTSP.
The health inspectors all pitched in to pay for the 10-day short term event permit, which costs $87, and Mr. Faulkner's Old Fashioned Hot Dogs Huff passed its health inspection, Huff said.
Since that permit only allows Jaequan to operate his hot dog stand in the same location for 10 days, the Minneapolis community has stepped up to help him stay in business beyond that, Huff said.
The local police department has volunteered to sponsor Jaequan's 10-day permit to operate his stand outside the precinct when his first permit has expired.
"I'm guessing he's probably gonna be doing a lot of business there," Huff said. "I'm sure the police officers will enjoy having him doing business there."
The Minneapolis Urban League, a local civil rights organization, will be sponsoring Jaequan's hot dog stand after his permit at the police precinct expires, and a community church will sponsor him after that, keeping him in business for the rest of the summer, Huff said.
Jaequan has been running the stand during his time off from school since 2016, with the help of his uncle and cousin, he told KTSP.
He sells hot dogs, bags of chips and sodas and provide garnishes and condiments as well, Huff said. The only change he made to the menu after obtaining the permit was removing the diced tomatoes, since they can be hazardous if not refrigerated correctly, Huff said.
Huff described Jaequan as a "very responsible young man" who has shown "a lot of maturity" throughout the process.
Jaequan said that he enjoys running the hot dog stand and, after all the help he's received, has realized that "other people enjoyed it" too.
"The permit helps me let other people know that I'm officially ready to take care of business," the 13-year-old told KTSP.
Jaequan's uncle was instrumental in encouraging him to keep going, despite the complaints that were made to the health department, the teen said.
"I don't want to stop," Jaequan said. "... It makes me feel really proud that people know what I'm doing."
The move by the city is a stark comparison to similar cases in which the police were called on children for selling water bottles or mowing the wrong part of a lawn.
The health department has been getting emails from people around the country commending them on their efforts, Huff said, adding that it was "fun" for health inspectors who "really care for their community" to get involved with helping the teen's business stay afloat.
"You know, health inspectors are often telling people news that they don't necessary want to hear," Huff said. "... It was a fun way for them to engage in the community and support Jaequan."