Every penny counts: local restaurant tries Kickstarter again

Max Efrein/The Daily Courier. Dave MacKenney eating a hot dog at Nastee Dogs.

Max Efrein/The Daily Courier. Dave MacKenney eating a hot dog at Nastee Dogs.

PRESCOTT, AZ - Nastee Dogs is in trouble.

The local restaurant's very existence appears to be coming down to whether the owners can raise $20,000 on Kickstarter.com, the popular crowdfunding website.

Come fire season, which has often begun around early May in recent years, Nastee Dog's owners, Paul Moskvich and Stephen Roberts, will no longer be allowed to cook their homemade hotdogs outside in smokers as they have been since they opened in early November.

Despite being contained in a box, the smokers are considered an open flame by the fire department.

If Moskvich and Roberts wish to continue cooking once the fire season is declared, they will need to move their operation inside, which requires a hooded ventilation system and a fire suppressor, two things they have yet to invest in.

Combined, these cost about $25,000 to $27,000, says co-owner Paul Moskvich.

"It's almost double our opening budget," Moskvich said.

Last October, the duo attempted to raise $15,000 on Kickstarter to cover opening costs. When that failed - raising $0 - they scraped together the money anyway by selling a few things and tapping into family members for loans.

With only that $15,000, they secured a location near Whiskey Row and set up shop.

They have since made quite an impression and attracted a significant following of loyal customers. However, that may all be coming to an end in the not so distant future.

As of right now, there are only nine days to go before the timer runs out on the campaign and they still have a serious ways to go.

"In all honesty, it's not looking very good right now," Moskvich said.

So far, 21 backers have pledged a combined $1,647, which is only 8 percent of the $20,000 needed.

Just as with any Kickstarter campaign, if the full amount isn't raised within the designated fundraising period, the campaigners receive nothing and those who pledged are not charged.

Moskvich says they are brainstorming to come up with a plan B. They're considering fencing in their current outside cooking station with aluminum siding in the hopes that the fire department will consider it a contained environment.

"If the hood system doesn't go through and then this plan B that we've recently come up with doesn't go through, we're not sure what's going to happen," Moskvich said.

Despite their tight budget, the owners of Nastee Dogs have nonetheless tried to give back to the community.

At the end of every day, they donate their leftover hot dogs to the homeless. They've also partnered with local charities such as Yavapai Big Brothers/Big Sisters, MS Awareness Walk and the Yavapai Humane Society. For one to two weeks each month, every penny from the sale of their cookies goes to one of these non-profits.

"We cannot expect our community to support us if we don't support them," as stated on their Kickstarter account.

The last day to pledge to the campaign is April 15. To do so, go to kickstarter.com and type in Nastee Dogs II: The Hoodening.

Follow Max Efrein on Twitter @mefrein