Son resurrects cord dog business

From the East Oregonia
Saturday, December 22, 2001
Article by Sandy Holtz

Bernard Lind with Linds Concessions

PENDLETON - Customers of the corn dog vendor in front of Rite Aid had to wait for him to move in and open the Christmas season this year.

Francis Lind sold corn dogs and cotton candy at the same location in Melanie Square for 25 years beginning right after Thanksgiving. He set up his equipment on the sidewalk each year until 1999, when he began using a concession trailer.

This year, his health kept him from coming. After customers asked merchants in the Square about the vendor, Lind's son, Bernard said he decided to take his dad's place, out for an abbreviated 17-day stint, not the full 40-day-season that his father did.

Father and son have the same philosophy of providing service and treating customers fairly, Lind said, though he and his dad may approach a few things differently.

Francis Lind of Umatilla built his reputation selling corn dogs - made from his own secret recipe - at various local events, his son said. He has set up at events in Oregon, Washington and Idaho over the past 50-some years, including 51 years at Chief Joseph Days, 29 years behind the poultry barn at the Umatilla County Fair, seven years at Heppner's St. Patrick's Day celebration and several years at the Pendleton Round-Up - just inside the main gate opposite the Lions Club.

"Your dad was at the Umatilla Speedway the first day it was open," a customer reminded Lind.

Customers stop by steadily all day, Lind said. Some recall the senior Lind's corn dogs. A customer drove down from Pasco to buy some corn dogs because he liked Lind's recipe and couldn't get them anywhere else this time of year.

"Some customers tell me they only eat corn dogs one time a year, and that's from dad's concession," he said.

Several customers have come by in the evenings and bought corn dogs to take home and freeze, he continued. He has added some specialty items to his dad's menu.

Lind siad he hopes to build on his dad's reputation with his own elephant ears, caramel apples and candy apples with cherry coating. And, you just may find a $2 bill or a gold-colored $1 coin in your change if you stop by.

"I enjoy what I'm doing," he said. "I couldn't do a good job if I didn't enjoy it ... It's difficult to hire help unless you're right here working alongside them. The wrong person, in a very short time, can destroy a reputation that has taken years to build just by not mixing the batter or cooking the corn dogs right."

Lind is married with two children and lives in Cowiche, Wash. He has made his living year-round, since 1995, vending from concession trailers.

"Not many people try to make a living this way," he said. "It's very scary for small businesses today. The cost of Oregon permits for mobile food units has gone up a lot with other prices, and just how much can you charge for a corn dog?"

Lind said the support from local people is great and that he plans to return next year, though he hasn't decided yet if it will be 17 or the full 40 days.

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