By Dave Ficere
In a competitive environment, one local entrepreneur has changed the business paradigm from “dog-eat-dog” to “dogs for dogs.”
Meet Martin Milner, owner of Mr. Martz hot dog stand, a local company trying to make a difference. Now in his second year of doing business, Milner says theirs is a “small company with big dreams” that hopes to one day be a household name in the Valley.
But more than just a businessman, Milner’s story is one of overcoming great odds and not giving up on a dream. Legally blind, he graduated from culinary school in the mid 90s and worked as a land surveyor until the economic downturn in 2008. After struggling to find work for several years, he landed a job as a cook at a Glendale senior care community and decided to launch his hot dog business to support animal causes that he is passionate about.
Despite his vision challenges, Milner says he is able to drive by wearing special glasses and admits he has learned how to adapt. “Sometimes it’s not easy, but my food is my comfort zone,” he admits.
Starting with one hot dog cart in 2013, earlier this year Mr. Martz added a second cart and their first permanent location at the Los Olivos Car Wash, located at 232 E. McDowell Road in Phoenix. The other cart remains primarily in the Glendale and Peoria areas, and because of his job, the cart’s location is usually chosen at random during the week and posted on the Mr. Martz Facebook page.
Giving back is important to Milner and that’s where the “dogs for dogs” slogan comes into play. The owner of three pugs himself, he donates 15 percent of all Mr. Martz sales to dog shelters such as the Arizona Pug Adoption and Rescue Network, 2 Share Foundation, and Lost Our Home Pet Foundation in an effort to help animals in need.
Milner says they’re looking for other businesses to partner with them by giving them places to set up their hot dog cart so they can raise more money to help dogs or organizations that work in animal rescue. In addition, he says, he’s open to providing gourmet hot dog lunches for north valley businesses or companies that need food service, especially for third shift workers.
What makes Mr. Martz’s food fare different, Milner says, is using all-beef hot dogs, homemade buns and his years of culinary education. He’s able to add gourmet touches to his recipes along with special sauces and “wild, wacky toppings” that people love. Milner says on average he serves about one hundred people a day and business especially booms during the cooler months of the year.
And, what does the future hold for Mr. Martz? Milner says he has thought about a “brick and mortar” permanent location but hasn’t found an ideal spot yet. Until it happens, he says, he’ll continue serving customers from his carts. “The customer comes first and I make sure they’re satisfied—especially first time customers. It’s really important to make a good first impression and I want to stand out and be different from others,” he says.
His latest idea: The “dog house,” a 10-foot U-Haul truck he wants to convert to a “wiener wagon” that can compete with the bigger food trucks and give patrons an air conditioned facility to enjoy Mr. Martz hot dogs during the hot summer months.
If you’d like to find out more about Mr. Martz or Milner’s work with animal shelters, give him a call at (623) 221-6532 or visit his Facebook page.