PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Takari Stutts seemed to be forever heading down the wrong path – until he changed the recipe.
“My plan is to never go back,” Stutts said, referring to the ACI. “Never go behind the walls again.”
His answer to making an honest living is a custom made hot dog and food cart for his business Grab N Go Hot Dogs that features with his specialty – the “jail-style dog.”
“This is my baby right here,” Stutts said. “This is my money maker.”
The jail-style dog was first created behind the razor wire where Stutts used commissary condiments to spice up normally bland food, like hot dogs.
“I wanted it to taste like home,” he said, prepping one in a frying pan.
Mustard, ketchup and relish are obvious toppings he uses, as well as Mayonnaise, celery salt and jalapenos – which are not unheard of in the hot dog world.
Neither are onions, but in this culinary case, there’s a back story.
“In jail, we didn’t get onions from the commissary, but we got them. I can’t tell you where I got them,” Stutts said with a grin. “Top secret.”
The list of condiments continues.
“I put Doritos on a hotdog,” he said. “You can’t go wrong with Doritos on a hotdog.”
He’ll also add some Goya Sazon, which is a combination of several spices including garlic powder, dried cilantro and paprika.
He tops it off with something he calls “crazy-style sauce.”
When asked what’s in the sauce?
“I can’t tell you what’s in the sauce,” he said wryly.
He said he sees the irony that his venture is operating in the shadow of the courthouse where he was often on the wrong side of the law.
“I run into a lot of prosecutors who prosecuted me. They look at it like, you’re doing a good job,” Stutts said. “They give me their card. I’m like, I don’t need your card. I’m not going back.”
Hours before lunch, there’s already a line near the cart.
“Want a bag?” he asks one customer who bought a pair of dogs.
“No,” the customer replies. “I’m going to be on the go.”
Stutts doesn’t miss the branding opportunity.
“See the concept?” he said. “He’s got to grab and go.”
Nearby, his proud father, who also used a food truck business to stay out of trouble.
“I am 100% proud of him,” Robert Walker said. “It makes me want to cry.”
As far as anyone who might judge them for their past, they’re not concerned.
“They’re going to do that anyway because of who we are,” Walker said. “But some people do change.”
The goal down the road is to add a few wheels to his business and buy an actual food truck where he’ll offer a wider menu with a similar style.
“I’m not looking back,” Stutts said. “This is my future.”