‘It’s a joy to come to work’: 85-year-old woman starts hot dog stand in Prosperity

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Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 8:56 AM CDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - It’s never too late to start something new.

That’s the message from 85-year-old Joann Dehardt, of Prosperity, who’s serving up food hot off the grill at her new hot dog stand.

However, grilling hot dogs and sizzling fries is just a small part of what Dehardt, or Boss Lady Jojo, does daily at J’s Hot Diggity Dogs.

“I love people and I love helping people and that’s what it’s all about,” said Dehardt.

Back in 1980, Joann and her husband opened Frandeena’s, one of the few restaurants serving up hot food in Prosperity.

“After my husband passed away in 2010, I volunteered at a thrift store in Chapin, Good Works,” said Dehardt. “I said ‘You know the old restaurant is still standing, why don’t I do that?’ and one of the workers said ‘Joann that’s a fine thing for you to do.’”

Inspired by the thrift store, Joann got to work. She turned the old Frandeena’s into Heart and Hands Thrift Shoppe, which serves people all throughout the community at 6226 Macedonia Church Road.

People can get furniture, kitchenware, antiques, clothes, and the list goes on. If you name it, Joann probably has it.

To keep it all running smoothly, Joann has one volunteer who’s been with her from the very start, Jan Acquisto. Their friendship all began at that thrift store in Chapin.

“Joann happened to be in there and she came walking up and she said well I need help and I’m opening a thrift store on Macedonia Church Rd. in Prosperity, and I said I live on Macedonia Church Rd. in Prosperity,” said Acquisto.

After Jan Acquisto lost her daughter to colon cancer, Joann Dehardt was by her side every step of the way.

“If I would bring something in of my daughters to donate, she’d say it’s a good thing Jan, it’s a really good thing. Because you’re passing it on for someone else to enjoy,” said Acquisto.

But Joann still felt like something was missing.

“Nobody had anything to eat around here, so I said ya know why don’t we do a similar small hot dog stand?”

That is how J’s Hot Diggity Dogs was born.

The small hot dog stand now sits right in front of Heart and Hands Thrift Shoppe.

If you’re wondering what you should get when you stop by, Boss Lady Jojo has a suggestion.

“Get a hot dog all the way. With chili, mustard, onion, everything.”

Running a thrift shop and a hot dog stand, you’d think Joann Dehardt would have her hands full, but it turns out the only thing full is her heart.

“I just love people, and I love doing what I’m doing. It’s a joy to come to work.”

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