Food lovers keep popular Floral City hot dog stand from closing

By Josh Gauntt, Reporter
Last Updated: Saturday, December 29, 2012

A popular hot dog stand in Floral City was about to shut down, but food lovers may have come to the rescue just in time to keep its doors open.

Pudgee's is a small, one-of-a-kind roadside hot dog stand on South Florida Avenue that has served as a community center of sorts for over a decade. 

Recently owner John Sterling received some bad news after an inspection found an electrical wiring problem in his business, which is run out of a mobile trailer.

A fire inspector said he needed to install a fire suppressant system, a move Sterling said is very costly. He also said he wasn't required to have one when he opened in 2001.

"The laws have changed," he said. "But no one's ever said it to us in 13 years until someone raised up a flag."

Sterling said he was told he had to comply or close his business.  He put out word that he was going out of business, which triggered an outpouring of support from the community.

"There's too many people here who love Pudgee's that want them to say," customer Cynthia Shurette said. "I just can't imagine life without Pudgee's."

To the people in the area, Pudgee's serves up more than just hot dogs and hamburgers.

"Go back to the good ol' days when people used to gather and eat and talk," customer Tracy Weiss said. "Roadside stand...it's perfect."

It seems that support has changed the minds of fire inspectors, so they've given Sterling a little extra time to come into compliance, which means that for now, Pudgee's will remain open.

"My people have always loved me," Sterling said. "You never realize how much they cared about me until something like this happens, and people just stick together because it's what they want and they see it's within reason."