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DU’s hot dog man keeps hungry students fed

“Quality is number one, even if it means I make a little less,” says Yakov Neyman. Photo: Michael Richmond

You don’t need a business degree to know that getting a fast, hot lunch for a dollar is a pretty good deal. You just need to know where the hot dog man hangs out on campus.

Jesus Diaz, a senior finance and marketing major who will graduate this June, loves stopping by Yakov Neyman’s hot dog cart for a quick—and more importantly, cheap—lunch. “This keeps you going when you’re running between classes, and you can’t beat the price,” he says.

The price is what keeps a lot of people coming back to the little cart, which is a fixture at the Asbury Avenue crossing outside of Sturm Hall. Hot dogs are only a buck, “meatier” Vienna hot dogs are 25 cents more and $2.50 buys a plump and juicy Bratwurst. The cart also is stocked with burritos, nachos, turkey dogs, chips, sodas and other goodies.

Although he prices low, Neyman points out that his products are high quality. “Quality is number one, even if it means I make a little less,” he says proudly. “I was in school for 13 years, and I like offering students a cheap but quality meal.”

Neyman is a Russian immigrant with a doctoral degree in engineering. He moved to the United States in 1992 and worked for a company that made automobile airbags, but was laid off in 2001. That’s when he bought the hot dog cart, moved in with his daughter and her husband and began helping to look after his two grandchildren.

But from 10 to 5 on weekdays—and some weekends if there’s a big event on campus—you can find Neyman outside of Sturm Hall. He points out that he rarely changes those times. “Customers need to know when I’ll be here so they can plan their day,” he says.

Hot dog aficionados want a variety of toppings at their disposal, and Neyman has them all. Jennifer Ward, a medical assistant in DU’s health center, likes to top her chili-cheese dog with mustard and relish. If one wants to smother their dog, onions, ketchup and jalapeños also are available.

Neyman may begin offering another option soon. Diaz, a native of Venezuela, says the only thing missing is crunched chips—a popular topping in South America. “You bring this so I can see,” Neyman says as he watches another satisfied customer leave with a meal that costs less than a gallon of gas.

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