On the first day of business for the area’s “first big-city street café,” Chris and Angela Tackett explained they are selling hot dogs for a cause at Zay Zay’s in Raceland.
“Our son, Isiah, has a rare disease,” they said, explaining the 9-year-old is dealing with Niemann–Pick type C, a lysosomal storage disease that strikes an estimated 1 in 150,000 worldwide. They estimate he is 1 of 100 with the disease in the United States, and note treatment is available only in Brazil.
“There is a treatment in Brazil, but there is no cure,” Tackett said, adding food and drug officials in the United States recently rejected the therapy without serious reason to oppose the option. Tackett said he and his father, Rick Tackett, built their portable food and concession stand to have a way to earn money to pay for the boy and his mother, who owns the business, to spend two years of treatment with a medical team in Brazil.
Weather permitting, they plan to sell hot dogs at Zay Zay’s, a name derived from their nickname for Isiah, during lunch hours on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays in Raceland, setting up near the front of the city’s downtown park across from city hall on Chinn Street.
“We just started today,” he said Tuesday, taking a break from his station on the sidewalk where he used a bullhorn to convey the message “Hot dogs! Hot dogs!” to anyone who might be passing by with an appetite open to suggestion. For those who did stop, the Tacketts and their family were ready with massive hot dogs and a selection of toppings.
“We have a bakery making specialty buns just for the cart which are available nowhere else,” he said.
Doing business as Zay Zay’s Catering & More, the family business is already thinking of ways to expand the “sub-sized” hot dog menu with a regular-size and a kid-size hot dog, as well as working on ways to make regularly scheduled deliveries to places such as local industries and hospitals. Tackett said they are now seeking a reliable delivery driver to make that plan a reality, while also seeking other places where the self-contained kitchen on wheels will be appreciated.
“We don’t need to hook up to anything. We don’t need water, gas, electricity or anything else,” he said, noting they hope to bring Zay Zay’s onsite for events, including ball games, corporate events and private parties.
“We can do birthday parties, too. We have inflatables, a clown and a magician,” Tackett said, adding customers have the shelters and tables at Raceland’s city park available for their outdoor dining pleasure, and they hope to soon bring their own outdoor tables to add to the “big-city-style” sidewalk café.
In addition to working toward Isiah’s therapy in Brazil, the Tacketts hope their business can also help raise funds and awareness for the families of other children who are dealing with health problems or other challenges.
“We want to do any fundraisers we can do,” he said, explaining they already have a few goals in mind for children dealing with problems similar to the challenges facing Isiah, including the purchase of backpack feeding pumps, food processors and personal-care products that aren’t normally provided through available resource programs.
With plans to have Isiah on hand to meet people during lunch at the café, the Tacketts said they hope to be doing business in downtown Raceland from roughly 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. four days a week, if the weather is friendly. Considering the nature of the boy’s health problems, however, they are reserving the option to amend business hours on a day-by-day basis.
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TIM PRESTON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2651.