The new year often means a new beginning and that’s what Marie Emmi of Bellerose is seriously hoping for.
On Dec. 16, after 30 years in business, Emmi’s hot dog truck went up in flames, destroying the vehicle and temporarily shutting down her business.
“I cry every day about losing the truck, but my family tells me I should be happy to be alive,” said the grandmother of eight and mother of four.
She and her husband together ran the mobile food truck that was named after her until his death five years ago. Since then, Emmi has operated the business herself outside Sears on Union Turnpike in New Hyde Park.
“We are grandfathered in and I hope to return as soon as I can find a new truck,” she said. “I was there every day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and I definitely had my regular customers.”
The truck served Sabrett hot dogs and sausages, knishes, soda, coffee and cakes. “We were open all year-round, even when there were mountains of snow. Customers traveled for my hot dogs,” she added.
According to the FDNY, Emmi’s truck caught fire at the Mobil gas station at 252-02 Union Turnpike, where she had pulled in for gas. Though officials are still investigating, propane tanks were in the truck and may have exploded.
Emmi was so surprised by the blast and ensuing fire that she stayed glued to the front seat. Gas station workers ran and pulled her out, saving her from serious injury or even death.
The FDNY responded quickly and put out the blaze, but the damage was done.
Her neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous, said it was lucky the firehouse was only two blocks away. “Marie saw the flames, but froze in fright and they came to her rescue,” she said. “I think the fireman, Mobil guys and the Blessed Mother get all the credit.”
Resting at home after her ordeal, Emmi said she’s still in shock. “It’s a miracle they pulled me out in time.”
She doesn’t know what caused the fire. “It just exploded. I don’t know what happened,” Emmi added.
The businesswoman vows to reopen and hopes it’s sooner rather than later, but it may take time to find the proper replacement.
“My life was saved, but I miss my truck,” she added. “Everyone tells me I can always get another truck, but not another life.”