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Two men standing in a restaurant and a photo of a restaurant owner looking out the window.

Restaurant Goes Viral After Customer Snaps This Sad Photo

Spirals: Hot Dogs & More and Facebook/ Nick Chappell
Uplifting News

Man Posts Sad Photo of Struggling Hot Dog Seller - Little Did He Know It'd Change His Life

This customer turned a small business around with one photo.

The restaurant business is a hard one, full of long hours, complex challenges and a high turnover rate. Running a successful eatery requires a lot of skill, dedication, and luck, and even then, there’s no guarantee the restaurant will succeed. So when someone goes above and beyond to help your establishment thrive, it’s a pretty big thing.

A Struggling Restaurant

In August 2020, an Oklahoman named Scott Hosek opened Spirals Hot Dogs and More. The idea was to deliver elevated hot dogs, sausages, and links with toppings ranging from mac and cheese to peanut butter. Of course, launching such a place during the pandemic was hard, and post-pandemic business still hadn't picked up the way Hosek needed to stay afloat.

The problem wasn’t the hot dogs; customers loved the food. The problem was marketing. Hosek needed to get the word out there and bring in more customers, but nothing worked. He considered shutting down, especially by October 2023, when he suffered a stroke.

That’s when a military vet named Nick Chappell came in for a bite. He loved his food but noticed the owner staring out the window, waiting for customers. He decided to snap a heartbreaking photo.

“It was just really slow and I was kind of looking out the window and I’m thinking of all the businesses going on right now, we’re really slow today while everybody else is probably not,” Hosek recalled to The Oklahoma News Report.

A Viral Post

Chappell felt for the man and sent the photo to some friends. They urged him to post the photo on social media, but Chappell hesitated.

“I didn’t want it to seem like a moment of weakness, but it also was a great time to try and get customers in the door for him,” he told the outlet.

In the end, Chappell posted a nice review of the restaurant and shared the photo, along with a few other photos of his meal. The post went viral, and about 24 hours later, customers began pouring into Spirals. The next time Chappell went in for a hot dog, about 70 other guests were there.

Hosek reveals that business has turned around since then. Now, on a typical “slow day,” he’ll sell $1,100 to $1,200 worth of product. It can be closer to $2,000 or $3,000 on a busy day.

“It could very well keep me going, and quite honestly, we were talking about shutting it completely down,” he said.

He’s grateful for Chappell’s post, and the two men have since struck up a friendship. Hosek has added a hot dog, The Thunderbird, to the menu in Chappell’s honor, and this past year, Spirals also sponsored his son’s baseball team.

“We look at everything that’s happened and say, ‘God did this,’” Hosek added. “This was our church for a little while. Here we were, talking about closing down and God stepped in.”

Helping Each Other Out

All it took was a small act of kindness for Spirals to become one of the best-known hot dog places in the country. But before that, the owner thought of shutting down because nothing he was doing was working. It’s an excellent reminder for all of us that referrals and word of mouth are everything when it comes to small businesses.

It doesn’t take much for us to write a Google review, leave a nice comment, or post about a place we love on social media. To us, it’s a few moments out of our day. But to the owners of that small business, sharing your thoughts and kind comments can make a world of difference.

And, like in the case of this hot dog joint, it could be the thing that ultimately makes or breaks the business.

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