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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Texas State alumnus overcoming obstacles, eating the cost

Nichaela Shaheen
Will Keeter prepares hot dogs in front of customers at Keeter’s Kitchen, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023, at The Square.

In the heart of The Square, one alumnus of Texas State is dishing out a serving of deliciousness alongside a dash of mustard, relish and chili according to customers. 

Will Keeter, the one man show behind Keeter’s Kitchen, can be found serving hot dogs to crowds of 50 plus customers from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday behind Harpers on the San Marcos Hair Co. parking lot.

The proud Texas State graduate of 2019 has taken the concept of “giving back to the community” to a new level with a passion for serving his community, and his idea has become a sizzling success. The idea started as a conversation between his friends as they frequently visited The Square in college. 

“There’s so much foot traffic out there, we’re like ‘It has to work,’” Keeter said. “I went to visit my brother at the University of Arkansas and there’s a guy out there doing the exact idea that I wanted to do. I got to talking to him and he told me that he’d been doing this for about 15 years.”

Keeter previously had a desk job as an economist for the state and decided it was time to take a leap of faith in 2021 with Keeter’s Kitchen and has prioritized his business venture since.  

The small-scale investment has quickly grown into a beloved destination for the local community. Keeter’s hot dogs have become a go-to comfort food for hungry Bobcats, past and present. From “The Keeter Dog” loaded with mustard, chili, shredded cheese and onion to the “Southwest Dog” topped with chili, shredded cheese, bacon and jalapenos, every bite is enjoyable for regular customers like Trent Mathers, head doorman for Harper’s.

“I hate hot dogs,” Mathers said. “This is the first hot dog I’ve tried since I was little that I didn’t hate.”

Bryan Brisson, a regular since Keeter’s Kitchen has been operational, said the friendliness that comes with his hot dogs is a factor that brings him back, regardless of having to wait 20 minutes for his meal when a crowd lines up.

“It’s the perfect location,” Brisson said. “Phenomenal customer service. Everything he does is just great. Dogs are good, toppings are good. He always has water, always has chips. He always has a line but he always takes time to talk to people when he can.”

Although Keeter’s Kitchen has continued to satisfy appetites, he faces a challenge that has crept into the picture: inflation. Keeter has had to combat rising costs that threaten to take a big bite out of his bottom line, as inflation looms over his cart, affecting his business in ways he couldn’t have foreseen during his time as a Bobcat.

“The price of my product has gone up significantly since I started. The price of my inventory has gone up almost 100% because of inflation,” Keeter said. “We’re headed toward a little bit of a recession. But I really, really am trying to not boost my price too much.”

Keeter’s plan is to push more hot dogs out and reach a new category of customers to help offset the costs he’s currently taking on himself. Keeter prioritizes fresh ingredients every night because he aims to provide people with quality hot dogs. 

“I don’t want people coming to me because they have to… I’d rather spend more money on quality rather than buy cheap products and people notice the difference,” Keeter said. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index, in Texas there has been an increase of 5.1% from the past year and five out of the six major grocery store food group indexes increased over the past month.

The San Marcos Area Chambers of Commerce President Page Michel understands they aid in fostering business resilience and growth, playing a vital role in assisting small businesses amidst inflation. The chamber of commerce plans a series of business-building workshops each year. 

“The resources the Chamber provides to small businesses are tailored to their specific needs, workforce training, marketplace exposure, leadership and supervisory training,” Michel said in a written interview. 

Keeter’s Kitchen is now looking to expand starting with employees, as Keeter plans to convert his cart business into a food truck operation. 

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