Anyone who has visited New York can attest to the marvel of a hot dog cart. It's a simple meal but the awesomeness of walking down a street and literally walking into food seems miraculous when you're starving. Lafayette will have lots of beefy miracles if Chet Marelli gets his way and hot dog carts come to Lafayette events and street corners.

Marelli wants you to remember that he was the original hot dog cart guy in Acadiana 30 years ago. “There have always been many people who want to, but not many ever do. I am the original, if you remember the ones at Cowboys, The Strip and Grant Street Dancehall — among others. No food trucks for me. Customers want to see the food being prepared and where your hands are at all times.”

Marelli grew up in New Jersey and references his boyhood trips to Coney Island when thinking about the kind of food he likes to serve. “I first brought Hot Dog Carts to Lafayette 30 years ago. I bought a property on ‘The Strip’ where I was operating one cart and eventually built a bar on it called Mugsy’s.” Then the oilfield crashed like a 16-year-old with purloined Ferrari keys and Marelli decided to head to Colorado.

Several years ago, Marelli came back but chose an unfortunately timed place to make a home: Butte la Rose. "I’m still reeling from the evacuation," he says. But never one to be scared away, “I settled back here in Butte LaRose and operate a festival food vending business, here and in Colorado, which includes Festival Acadiens et Creole and Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival, among many others. Here and there I serve Philly cheesesteaks, Cajun sausage, crawfish etouffe and chicken and sausage jambalaya.”

The food carts are coming to street corners and venues near you shortly. “I have the carts on hand right now,” he says.

In the meantime, check out the Facebook page for Chet's Grill here. The Ind will write more on Chet's Grill when it gets in full swing.

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