Chili Dog Man and his salvaged white van
and text :: Jason A. Givens
LOGAN -- It may not
look like much, but there's more to the
big white van selling chili dogs in the
Hastings parking lot on North 400 Street
than meets the eye.
The owner of the van,
David Summers, originally from Phoenix,
said it's "kind of an interesting story"
how he got started selling chili dogs and
other items ranging from ham sandwiches
to bowls of homemade chili from a van.
Summers said about
three years ago, he and a business partner
had plans to start a restaurant in Logan.
Summers said he invested a lot of money
and acquired a lot of debt to start the
restaurant. He said about three days before
Christmas his partner backed out and said
he didn't want to go into the restaurant
"I was up to my
eyeballs in debt," Summers said. "I
panicked and was ready to hitchhike to Florida."
Summers said he was hitchhiking and about
30 miles outside of Oklahoma City at about
3 in the morning, in a 1972 Ford LTD doing
about 75, when he was rear-ended by a Chevy
Tahoe doing 90. He said the car was pushed
off the road and rolled over three times.
"I'm all shot
to hell," Summers said. "My shoulder needs
worked on, my back needs to be worked on,
I can't afford the medical bills."
After the accident
Summers said he returned to Logan, where
he lived all last winter in a van in the
Wal-Mart parking lot. He said he returned
to Logan because "every time I leave,
something weird happens."
Summers said he ended
up living in Logan originally because his
car broke down. He said he lived in Alaska
for about 20 years and ran a janitorial
business for about seven years. It was fun
and he made a lot of money, he said.
"But, I made the
mistake of getting married." He later
divorced, left Alaska and ended up doing
some work for a farmer in Washington. The
farmer gave him an old yellow van and he
started traveling around the country for
about six months until he broke down in
He said finally the
insurance company gave him just enough money
from the accident to take care of some bills.
He and his friend Mac salvaged the hot dog
van from a field and installed some of the
restaurant equipment, which he had purchased
when he was planning to start his restaurant.
"I wish I got
more business," Summers said. "I just enjoy
Summers said he was
raised by his grandparents and when he was
going to school he couldn't learn to read
and write. His grandparents wanted him to
learn a trade so they sent him to live with
his uncle who owned a restaurant. He said
he's been working in restaurants off and
on since he was about 13.
He said people have
been telling him business should increase.
"I hope it picks up soon because if
not I'm going to end up living in this thing,"
he said. If business doesn't pick up soon
he said he'll end up living in his van again
either in the Wal-Mart parking lot or in
the hills somewhere.
He said when business
takes off he plans on starting a regular
restaurant in Logan.
"One thing Logan
does need is just a regular restaurant that
sells regular food. All the restaurants
in Logan are either Mexican or Chinese,"
He said he back packed
and camped out all over Alaska and did a
lot of interesting things. He said he's
stood on top of a glacier and he's also
seen Denali, the tallest mountain in North
America. Sometimes he said it was so cold
when he was camping out that he doesn't
know how he survived.
I didn't freeze to death," he said.
Summers said if someone
were to write down his life story that no
one would believe it.
think it was a work of fiction," he
-Jason A. Givens
the thumbnail photos below for larger versions.