Create a unique menu with a one-of-a-kind food offering: This is one of the timeless pieces of advice given to every restaurant owner that’s just getting started. This advice is regularly passed on for a reason. By answering this question, you can articulate in under 15 seconds that special thing that makes your eatery different in addition to attracting the group of people that might be interested in dining at your truck.
In today’s Q/A interview, we spoke with future food truck owner Brian Fitzsimmons who has drawn inspiration for his food truck menu directly from his personal story and diet. Drawing from your own unique set of experiences is an incredibly powerful way build an restaurant and brand that is completely your own. Check out the Q/A below for details on how Fitzsimmons determined a Paleo food truck was the direction for his future truck.
Question: Tell us about yourself and your background.
Answer: I’m from Alexandria, Virginia, and I graduated from the University of Virginia with a bachelors in Foreign Affairs and Astronomy. I’ve been a HUGE health and fitness nut ever since I lost about 50 lbs 8 years ago, and I was introduced to the Paleo diet by my brother shortly after. Being Paleo demands cooking skills, so I’ve cooked for myself, friends, and family for years now. As a result, even though I don’t have any formal training as a chef, I certainly know my way around the kitchen.
Question: What got you thinking about starting a mobile food business?
Answer: I started thinking about a fast food Paleo joint during my third year at UVA. All my friends were gearing up for their consulting jobs at Deloitte and PWC, but I knew a desk job like that would drive me crazy. Also, during my time there, I realized that there weren’t many Paleo options at convenience stores and restaurants. So, I started doing research into quick-serve restaurants. I was attracted to the idea because A) I could use it to increase Paleo options for everyone on the go, and B) it wouldn’t be a desk job.
After a few months, my mom suggested doing a food truck instead – much lower start-up costs, and a lot more consumer friendly. It wasn’t a hard switch to make, so I immediately delved into the market analysis and business planning.
Question: What exactly is The Paleo Diet?
Answer: The Paleo Diet is based on the premise that, even though our diet has changed drastically in the last 100 years thanks to industrialization, our anatomy is still mostly the same as it was 10,000 years ago. The reason we’re seeing a rise in obesity, diabetes, and heart disease is because our bodies cannot cope with all the chemicals and preservatives we’re pumping into them. So the Paleo diet suggests going back to what we think we ate before agriculture: quality animal proteins, lots of veggies, healthy fats, and a little bit of fruit and complex carbs (like sweet potatoes and squash).
I wanted this to be my truck’s theme because I can’t find Paleo fast food anywhere, and I thought I would be filling a huge market need. Plus, Paleo is my passion, and I want to spread the gospel, so to speak. I’ve done it for 5-6 years now, and I absolutely love it. Should I be successful, I’d help create a healthier, happier community.
Question: What type of a menu will you have?
Answer: Here’s my menu so far:
- Paleo Burger (grass fed beef patty, onion, tomato, fried egg, avocado sauce or mustard, wrapped in lettuce or housed in a sweet potato bun)
- Strawberry Salad (sliced strawberries, chopped bell peppers, choice of nuts, choice of pastured chicken breast, turkey breast, or bacon, optional avocado slices, choice of balsamic vinaigrette or olive oil dressing, choice of lettuce or kale for base green)
- Slow Cooked Chicken Chili (Bowl of slow cooked shredded chicken, diced tomatoes, chopped onions, red bell peppers, and chili powder, topped with salsa)
- Barbacoa Burrito or Bowl (Slow cooked barbacoa with grass-fed chuck, lettuce, pico de gallo, and Paleo guac, wrapped in a coconut flour tortilla or in a bowl)
Side dishes include:
- Post-workout Shake (32oz cup of Paleo Protein Powder, baked Sweet Potato, Cinnamon, blended with ice) (for the CrossFitters)
- Fruit Cup or Bowl (Choose from Oranges, Apples, Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries. Optional: drizzled with Almond Butter)
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Baked Sweet Potato (optional cinnamon or butter)
- Bottled Water
- Paleo Sweet Tea (Honey Strawberry, Lemon Mint, or Blended Dates)
Ingredients would be fresh, organic, and local when possible. Already been in touch with some San Antonio farmers to supply the grass fed beef.
Question: Who do you feel like is your target market for Paleo?
Answer: Paleo and CrossFit go hand in hand, so I’ll definitely vend near CrossFit gyms (been in touch with a few as well, and they helped me with my market research). Younger generations are also more health-conscious, and there’s a food truck pavilion right next to Texas University where I can rent space and vend to students. Beyond that, my target customers are 21-40 and make $40K+ per year, so the downtown business districts are key.
Question: How do you plan to raise capital for your startup?
Answer: I’ve saved a bunch of money during my time in Korea, but I’m planning on using Kickstarter for the food truck down payment. Then, depending on how much money I received (KS goal is 25K, so need to make at least that much), I’m going to NASA Federal Credit Union for a loan to pay the balance. So my own savings + Kickstarter + bank loan. I’ve contacted friends and family, Paleo bloggers, media outlets, and a bunch of other food gurus to help with Kickstarter, so hopefully that pulls through.
Question: What’s the ultimate goal of your future food truck?
Answer: Here’s the business’s mission statement:
“Paleo Pit Stop Food Truck promotes healthy living by providing quick, primal meals for the caveman in us all. We’re all about local ingredients, sustainable resources, and mouthwatering arrangements that are so delicious, they have no business being healthy. Whether you’re a health nut or not, our nutrient-dense Paleo meals will give your body what it needs to live a full and happy life at minimal cost.”
My long-term goal is to have a chain of quick serve Paleo restaurants (think Chipotle, but Paleo), and I think a food truck is a great way to start.
Side note: Fitzsimmons plans to launch a KickStarter campaign to raise money for his food truck in the near future. We will update this post when the campaign goes live to fill you in on his progress.