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Man Leaves Manhattan Life to Start Hot Dog Stand

Brian Fisher decided to pursue his dream of owning a hot dog stand after witnessing the 9/11 attacks and battling the grind of a corporate job in New York City.

Brian Fisher worked at a Manhattan ad agency for 15 years when life changed dramatically on Sept. 11, 2001. 

While sitting beside his wife on a New York City bus, Fisher heard a jet roar in the sky overhead and then strike the skyscraper.

The tragic events of that day convinced him that life was too short to remain in a career that no longer fueled his passions. 

"After that, more than ever, I needed to be more true to my family and more true to myself," Fisher said.

And for him, that meant one thing.

He was going to start a hot dog stand.

The problem was Fisher, 41, had a full-time corporate job and a life not conducive to "picking up and moving." 

"In the corporate world, you get a paycheck and it's a good paycheck, but there are strings attached. I didn't want a job with strings attached."

Postponing the Dream

A Severna Park native, Fisher moved to New York City after college but stayed a lot longer than expected after meeting his wife. 

Life forced Fisher to postpone his dream of opening a hot dog stand. The stressful demand of corporate life caused significant roadblocks. It wasn't until 10 years later that he finally quit his job.

Now, Fisher is opening Fisher’s Famous, a hot dog stand located in Edgewater on Central Avenue.

"Fisher’s Famous has been by my Field of Dreams since the day I tried my first Chicago dog over 10 years ago in New York City’s Madison Square Park," Fisher said. "I often talked about quitting my job and starting my own hot dog stand … Finally, my wife and I decided to take the leap."

After quitting his job in February 2011, Fisher traveled across the country in an RV with his wife and their now 3-year-old son, eventually settling in Annapolis a few months later for a "family-friendly" life. While getting ready to launch his new business, he worked for The Pomerantz Agency in Annapolis until quitting in March 2012 to officially begin with Fisher's Famous. 

"[Pomerantz] were awesome to work with. I told them early on there was something I always wanted to do," Fisher said. "They were tirelessly supportive."

The Severna Park native's desire to own a hot dog stand doesn't just stem from his love for frankfurters—at his core, Fisher is about family.

Finding the Family-Friendly Life

Choosing a new career that provides a better balance with family life is a familiar struggle. 

Work-family conflict is much higher in the United States than elsewhere in the developed world. One reason is that Americans work longer hours than workers in most other developed countries, including Japan, where there is a word, "karoshi," that means “death by overwork."

The typical American middle-income family put in an average of 11 more hours a week in 2006 than it did in 1979, according to The Center for American Progress

Finding balance between work and family is what ultimately pushed Fisher to finally follow his dream. 

"[With the hot dog stand], I was just looking for self-sufficiency. I've always loved hot dogs and wanted a stand, but I wanted something where ... I was guaranteed that I could come home that night to my wife and son," Fisher said. 

He felt the time was right to make a change.

"In the corporate world, you get a paycheck and it's a good paycheck, but there are strings attached," Fisher said. "I didn't want a job with strings attached." 

Top-Notch Dogs Coming to Edgewater

As the owner of Fisher's Famous and a sign already erect on Central Avenue across from , Fisher said he is excited for the business to "earn its way" into the community and make people happy with great food.

Located at 77 West Central Ave. in Edgewater, the stand is set to open sometime in mid-May with nothing more than a red and yellow food cart pulled by a blue Honda Element, Fisher said.

Fisher’s Famous will be a "walk-up” dining experience but the owner plans to eventually provide picnic tables for those wanting to relax a bit.

The menu is comprised exclusively of hot dogs, plus chips and drinks.

"Hot dogs are my passion and when done right, they’re perfect," Fisher said. "Three things make a great hot dog—great bread, great dog and great toppings. The perfect ratio of all three makes the perfect hot dog."

Fisher said he plans to introduce locally inspired concoctions such as the "Edgewiener" and the "Davidsondog." Those brave enough can also purchase T-shirts from Fisher that say, "My Wiener Is Famous."

With family, pride and tradition at the core of his new business, Fisher hopes to establish himself as a key dining option for the greater Annapolis area.

"In the end, I want to live a life I can be proud of," Fisher said. "I want to show my son that dreams are worth following and chances are worth taking."

"Like the movie Field of Dreams, I had to build it," he said.

You can find more articles from this ongoing series, "Dispatches: The Changing American Dream” from across the country at The Huffington Post.

tammy rusch May 16, 2012 at 09:09 PM
I hope he does well, but with Sonic and the other hotdog guy there's stiff competition. We will deffinately check it out. When will it open?
Jonathan Moynihan (Editor) May 16, 2012 at 09:13 PM
He plans to open before May is over, but I'll be sure to inform everyone when he announces the actual day.
john ammann jr May 16, 2012 at 09:55 PM
I have a ton of respect for him for going after his dream . I hope he does well and will check it out soon as it opens .
Tom Corcoran May 16, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Egewater has many fast food places both corporate and family owned. Mr Fisher has a great idea and hopefully there will be anough to go around. Sonic was the excitement ,for my wife and I its disapointing in that like any "Eating out " experience "People watching " is fun. Sonic limits that to a brick wall,and worry of car damage. The scaters are enthusiastic,the skill is admired....A rear view mirror is necessary. Backing out is difficult. Yes counting bricks on the side of the building gets old. An old or new friend 2 cars away is not recognized. Its like waiting in line for a car wash.....Its NO Arnolds for you Happy Days fans. So yes MR Fisher ,go for the dream,make a family friendly establishment and we will see a Chick and Ruth's grow in front of our eyes. Neighbors please spread the funds around. Bayside Bull,Hotdog cart guy in Egewater as well as others do a fine job! Good luck!
Trish H. May 16, 2012 at 10:22 PM
I never really thought much about hot dogs until trying a famous hot dog place on my last visit to Hawaii (Hank's Haut Dogs). Now I'm hooked! I can't wait to try this new place and some of their fun locally inspired concoctions! Who wouldn't love a hot dog covered in crab dip?
Colleen Shannon May 17, 2012 at 03:37 AM
This sounds great and I wish him well but I hope this doesnt have a negative impact on Mr. Darrel the original Edgewater hotdog man!
Jan Gratz May 17, 2012 at 12:43 PM
I lived in Chicago for 10 years and Chicago dogs are the BEST so I am truly excited to try out a Fisher dog. Plus I come from a family owned business and small businesses are the heart of soul of what America is all about. I also recently left my corporate job in January at age 52 to follow my dream of owning my own business. I find this happening more today and it is a very interesting trend with corporate America.
bob May 17, 2012 at 01:08 PM
The one option I'd like is a good early morning breakfast biscuit or good quality bread bun with the "hot dog" (sausage) split in half on it and with an egg on top. That would complement the hot dog business and use most of the same inventory supplies etc. Edgewater needs a good "home cooked" breakfast option along Central Avenue like there used to be, but they don't have to serve much more than just good biscuits, sausage dogs, eggs and coffee ready to eat.
Steve S. May 17, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Colleen, unfortunately Me. Darrell is having a negative impact on himself. Maybe the competition will prompt him to take the business a little more seriously. On more than half of the days that he's there, he's no where near ready to conduct business at the time that he claims that he's scheduled to open. When his sign that reads "Chili Dogs 10-3" finally appears, indicating that he's open, it's usually somewhere between 10:20 and 10:50. Please save all the excuses about 'he's just one aging person doing it by himself' and 'it's just a hobby for him,' 'there's not much business at 10 anyway,' etc. Thats all fine and I like Darrell just as much as everyone else, but the option is available for him to change his sign to read "11-3" if he's regularly not going to be open at 10.
Allison N May 17, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Wishing Brian the best of luck! My husband started a hot dog business from a cart as well almost 5 years ago with his cousin and now they have the cart and small take-out restaurant, Bad Dawgs in Huntington, NY. It takes a lot of time, patience and dedication but it sounds like Brian is 110% committed and that's half the battle. Can't beat the Chicago style dog - we call ours the "Basset Hound" :).
Melanie May 18, 2012 at 12:43 AM
I always gladly give the local guy my business over corporate America like Sonic or Burger King. I can't wait for him to open and to try it out! Brian, please make it motorcycle-friendly (parking) and we will bring our riding group in after one of our local rides!
Ann Collins May 18, 2012 at 09:43 AM
I wish him well! We have a great pre-school in Davidsonville for his 3-year old to go to! Check out South County pre-Kindergarten Co-op.
Matt May 21, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Right on Bob! A good, non-chain, mom and pop breakfast place would find me there every morning.
Sarah Castner August 13, 2012 at 05:04 AM
I will be there too!

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