At M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks, we’re honored to have the best customers and clients in the mobile food industry. We view it as an incredible compliment when a customer returns for a second build to expand and take their business to the next level.
This is exactly what happened with Triple Jay’s Pizzeria based out of Atlanta, Georgia. The original food truck continues to serve the business well, but Triple Jay’s Pizzeria was ready to take it up a notch for the 2.0 version of their vehicle.
The vision Triple Jay’s Pizzeria brought for their second food truck was to have a more open concept that welcomed prospective diners into their mobile kitchen. This open concept would allow customers to watch their pizza being made and provide a truly unique experience in addition to the mouth-watering pizza pies being served. Below is a photo of the finished product with LaSonia Terrence, owner / operator of Triple Jay’s Pizzeria:
Triple Jay’s Pizzeria 2.0.
After the completion of the build, we sat down with LaSonia of Triple Jay’s Pizzeria to learn more about their business, how they got their start, and what’s next for this Fayetteville based mobile pizzeria in 2018. Here’s a Q/A of that conversation.
Question: Tell us about why and how you got you got into the pizza business?
LaSonia: The short answer is we moved from Philadelphia to the suburbs and we could not find a good slice of pizza anywhere. So we decided to fix our own problems and make pizza at home. We messed around and got pretty good at it and would constantly have people telling us we need to sell this so we gave it a go!
The long answer: Revolves around Family.
We are originally from Philly so roughly 15 years ago we moved to the suburbs and we couldn’t find any local pizzas where we could go grab a slice of New York style pizza. There were only the big box brands (Pizza Hut, Dominos and Papa Johns).
How? My husband decided to take matters into his own hands and make us New York style pizza at home. He already had some experience making pizza from a high school job at a local restaurant. So he taught my two sons how to make dough, sauce, and how to stretch the pizzas almost every other weekend for a few years!
Why? We relocated to metro Atlanta Area about ten years and once we settled in to our new home we soon realized that we had to drive all the way to Atlanta to find a good pizza and then only a few sold slices. So we returned to what we knew and started up the pizza making again.
Now after 15 years of making pizza we noticed that we liked our pizza at home more then when we went out! And our friends, family, kids sports teammates and church family agreed that our pizza was really good! So that’s when a lightbulb went off in my mind!
At the same time my youngest at 16-years old was driving now and didn’t need me as much as he once did. I wanted to get back in the work force, but decided to ask my husband if he would be willing to finance my home catering business, he agreed! But I quickly learned that I could not run a catering business out of my home and be up to code! So we shifted gears and settled on the food truck idea!
Two slices of delicious New York style pizza.
Question: What style of pizza are you most best known for?
LaSonia: We make New York style pizza. We are known for our Buffalo Chicken pizza and our Pepperoni.
Question: Why did you decide to expand into a second truck?
LaSonia: My 21-year old helps me with the truck and has been hinting at him running the truck as the head. He figures we routinely get calls for the truck for the same day and with a second truck I could take a crew to one event and he could take a crew to another.
So when we were rear ended on I-75 by a car in August we decided to take this down time as an opportunity to expand.
Question: What do you feel like is your recipe for success in the mobile food business?
LaSonia: Our recipe for success is centered on feeding people great tasting food at a reasonable price. While providing the most professional service we can as fast as when can! We try to keep our wait time to under three minutes or better, which is something our customers really appreciate!
Inside Triple Jay’s Pizzeria.
Question: What’s the coolest event you’ve ever done?
LaSonia: The coolest event: Moonride Atlanta where city of Atlanta blocks off several streets to traffic so cyclists can ride throughout the city without fear of getting ran over. The riders wear crazy looking outfits as well.
Question: What does the future hold for Triple Jay’s Pizzeria?
LaSonia: Hopefully we can sell out first franchise in a few years once we have proven the business model some more and open up our first brick and mortar restaurant. More and more people are asking if and when we’ll be opening a shop!
We want to thank Triple Jay’s Pizzeria for taking the time to share their story and experience with us! If you would like to learn more about Triple Jay’s Pizzeria or see where they’ll be stopping next, visit their website or like their page on Facebook.
Triple Jay’s Pizzeria in Fayetteville Expands to Second Pizza Truck December 20th, 2017Staff
Drive 15-miles west of Boulder, Colorado and you’ll find a small community tucked in the Rocky Mountains called Nederland or simply “Ned” to the locals. According to the 2010 census this community has only 1,445 residents. But this funky little town has a lot more in store for visitors than you might expect based on the size. There are a variety of eclectic shops, stunning natural beauty and more recently The Vegetable Express.
The Vegetable Express is a mobile food unit that opened it’s doors in November, 2017 with the goal of offering vegan comfort food to the residents and guests of Nederland. Owner/Operators Jason Milner and Kara Kessler hope to educate others about the positive impacts of a plant based diet, on a personal and planetary level through the Vegetable Express.
Along the way, they’ll probably be changing some people’s perceptions about what a plant based diet can really test like. Check out some of these menu items:
Breakfast Burrito: Tofu “bacon” – Tofu scrambled “eggs” – sautéed onions, bell peppers, spinach, daiya cheese, salsa and guacamole.
Veggie Burrito: Sautéed onions, bell peppers, black beans, corn, Quinoa, spinach, daiya cheese, salsa and guacamole.
Caesar Kale Salad: Kale tossed in homemade Caesar dressing, topped with hemp seeds and cashew “parmesean.”
Carrot Dog: Marinated and grilled carrot served on bun, topped with diced onion, jalapeño, tomato and pickle.
As you can see the small sample of the Vegetable Expresses menu probably not what you expected. Jason and Kara plan to experiment with more menu items as their business grows. Below is a photo of some of their additional menu items:
If you live in or plan to visit Nederland, you can often find The Vegetable Express at West First St until 6 p.m. But check their Facebook page for daily location and times. They’ll be serving up plant-based protein with a side of smiles no matter where they’re located.
At M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks, we are honored to have the opportunity to serve entrepreneurs like Kara and Jason launch a truly innovative food concept with an important social mission behind it. We wish The Vegetable Express nothing but success in the future of their business!
The Vegetable Express Brings Vegan Comfort Food To Colorado November 28th, 2017Staff
One of the things we love doing at M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks is catching up with customers to see what they’re up to and hear how their trailer, truck, or other vehicle is working for them. Today we have the opportunity to talk to Wade Morris who operates TREmendous Que in Tampa, Florida. In 2016, Wade purchased a customized NS 72 SWT trailer he calls the “Mistress” (read the full interview below for the story behind the name).
Within just a few short years Wade has gone from grilling in his backyard with his setup from Home Depot to winning numerous awards for his smoked meats and crafting his own custom-made sauces like the Mighty Mango Habanero. Needless to say, we can’t wait to see what Wade does next! Until then check out this interview with Wade Morris, where he shares his passion for traditional BBQ, methodology to cooking mouth-watering meats, and plans for the future! Enjoy!
Pork spares with homemade Mango Habanero Sauce from TREmendous Que.
M&R: How were you introduced to BBQ and competitions?
Wade: My father has shown me how to grill since I was knee high to a pickle but for barbecue I really started cooking in Ohio when we were stationed at Wright-Patterson AFB. Probably like most cooks out there I am a huge football fan. BBQ and football go together like Peanut Butter and Jelly. So about 5 years ago, I was waiting for a football game to come on and my son was sleep on my chest. He was young and my fellow parents can all attest to how sacred that “quiet” time is. So instead of getting up, I just started channel surfing and came across a show called BBQ Pitmasters. It was a marathon and I watched every last episode. I missed the football game and immediately became hooked.
Later that weekend, I went out and bought my first pit. It was a Charbroil offset from Home Depot. Nothing fancy and not very big, but I threw it together in my garage and bought the first slab of ribs I could find. I’m not going to lie, those first ribs actually turned out pretty good. Feeling overly confident, I thought I would try my hand at a pork butt next. That brought me back down to earth real quick. I kept cooking though, perfecting my craft…I just wanted to do a competition and eventually do well enough to get an invite to the show that got it all started. A bit ambitious but I figured all those guys got started like I did in their backyard cooking for friends and family. Eventually we PCS’d (moved) to MacDill AFB in Tampa, FL.
We hadn’t been in Tampa but maybe 2 or 3 months and I started looking for another cooker. I wanted something on a trailer and with the capacity to cook a whole hog. I had no real need for either but I kept remembering the whole hog my dad did up after I graduated from school and thought about how cool I thought that was. I figured I could find what I was looking for on Craigslist so that’s where I started. One of the listings was for a guy that built cookers. When we went by to meet him and see some of the pits he had built, he told me about a contest that his friend was putting on in a couple of months. It was in town and the second year they were holding the contest. I didn’t buy a pit from the guy but I did sign up for my first contest!
In November 2015, I rented a U-Haul, packed up my Charbroil, Kingsford Kettle grill, a couple of tables, a huge cooler, pop-up tent, and some lawn chairs and did my first BBQ competition. I took 2nd in Pork and 2nd in Brisket. I was exhausted but more important I was hooked and haven’t looked back since.
Watch Part 1 of the TREmendous Barbecue Trailer Review with Wade Morris
M&R: What do you consider to be your style of BBQ?
Wade: Style…? Like virtually every other aspect of our lives and food, Barbecue has its styles too. Kansas City, Memphis, Carolina’s, and Texas. My style probably leans more so towards Kansas City BBQ than any other if only because KC is sort of a melting pot for styles from so many of the regions around it. Because KC is centrally located, it has picked up many of the characteristics from a lot of passersby over the years. But some of the staples are sweet/molasses and tomato. I would definitely say that is what characterizes my barbecue.
But for me, personally, I think traditionalism is the most important part of my barbecue. I have always had a thing for nostalgia…Keeping it old school and keeping it simple. If you take a look at the history of barbecue and the culture that has surrounded it, you’ll notice that it is filled with blue-collar workers, large social gatherings, and cheap cuts of meat. There wasn’t a lot of fancy rubs, sauces, and injections, just meat, fire, and long hours tending the coals. That is what I try to remember when I am cooking… the Tradition.
Tradition is what makes the difference. Whether you are cooking on the competition trail or in the backyard. Repetition and consistency are key and two of the hardest things to master. But that is what I aim for every time I fire up the pit. I keep it simple and honor the old school method of low and slow. That is a flavor that cannot be replicated in an oven, crock-pot, or with propane. It can’t be rushed, reasoned with, or imitated. That is what makes my product/style unique. I am not in it for the money so I don’t need to cut corners or sacrifice quality for quantity. I can burn 100% wood, buy a good grade of meat and take my time to turn out genuinely authentic and juicy barbecue because that is what I love to do!
M&R: I see from your Facebook page that you make your own style of BBQ sauce. What is your BBQ sauce like?
Wade: If southerners like their Tea Sweet, then they’ll love this sauce! In a word, its TREMENDOUS. Sticking with the traditionalist theme, my sauce is simple to make and super sweet. It is thin, has a hint of black pepper and a brilliant red color to it. It is a long time in the making, almost 3 years to be exact. But the beautiful thing is that it is doesn’t take that long to make. I could probably whip up some complex concoction that would have me in a white lab coat and rubber gloves and eye goggles, but I like things simple and that is the main ingredient. I stay experimenting though and always looking for new flavors to add to our tool bag.
Just recently we actually threw together a sort of island blend, the Mighty Mango Habanero. This sauce is good in and of itself but when married to BBQ it turns into something amazing. There’s sweet. There’s heat. And just a whole lot of rich and savory goodness. It is light and compliments not just TREmendous Que products but all your cuts you are thinking about cooking up, whether on the grill, smoker, or even in the oven. There really is no wrong way to serve up this newest addition to the family.
Watch Part II of the TREmendous barbecue trailer review with Wade Morris.
M&R: What goes into making BBQ sauce?
Wade: What goes into making BBQ sauce? A little bit of everything. I have watched television shows like ‘Man, Fire, Food,’ ‘BBQ Pitmasters,’ ‘BBQ Pitwars’ and ‘Smoked.’ I have joined virtually every online BBQ forum I could find, read books and online articles, and even talked to other pitmasters on the competition trail. In the end the most important lessons I learned were all from trial and error. Nothing beats putting a pan on the stove and standing there adding a little of this and a little of that always taking notes along the way. And of course, scurrying over to the wife, wooden spoon in hand asking her to taste the latest and greatest as she rolls her eyes because this is the 5th batch of the evening.
Her palette was always phase 1, if the sauce made it past phase 1 then I would put it to test during a cook out or get together. Towards the end, I would always ask what everyone thought of the sauce and my scale was simple: either it was hot or not. I was/am my own hardest critic and pretty much would only let a sauce out of phase 2 if folks raved and asked about how they could get some. Anything short of “we loved it” just didn’t matter to me, because I wanted only the best. Each and every time you try our products I want as much flavor packed into it as possible so any time I took results I always polarized them and that took me to phase 3.
Phase 3 was performance at BBQ competitions. This phase was a little bit harder to determine how much of the success…or lack thereof, was attributable to the sauce, but I took notes based on scores and how the sauce performed as I was prepping the food in my turn-in boxes. Believe it or not, BBQ sauce is served in multiple different fashions and at multiple temps, so I even took notes on physical characteristics of the sauce in a variety of environments. Folks get more annoyed than they consciously admit when bottles get clogged or they need to beat the bottle to get that little bit of sauce at the bottom. So 3 phases in, if a sauce has made it this far, then the recipe will make to the ‘She’s a Keeper’ pile.
M&R: What’s your “secret” to success in BBQ competitions?
Wade: I don’t have a secret. In fact I share as much as I can. And I always lead off with the same thing, consistency is key. I have had really good cooks and really bad cooks. Each and every time I took copious notes but there are always going to be variables, for instance, you will never cook the same piece of meat twice and never burn the same log twice. So you try to control the things you can like the temperature, the age/grade of the wood, the quality of the meat you cook, the humidity of the cook chamber, and how clean of a fire you burn.
Great barbecue is all about the basics. Don’t start off complicated with crazy rub and sauce mixtures, stick to tradition and keep it simple. Master your fire management, learn to recognize good cuts of meat, inspect your wood so you know the difference between seasoned and rotten wood and how it performs on your pit. As you cook more and improve these skills you will naturally pick up tricks along the way.
So my ‘secret’ if I had to give it up is to keep it simple, take notes, and try to reduce as many of the variables as you can. If you can attain a consistency that your patrons can trust they will definitely keep coming back!
Wade serving up some incredible tomahawk steaks.
M&R: What equipment and size is your BBQ trailer? Any unique things that you like about it?
Wade: My first cooker was a Charbroil off-set from a big box store. Those things are probably only supposed to last 2 maybe, 3 years, but I have managed to keep my burning for more than five. I call her my “Ol’ Lady.” It’s a traditional off-set and can do 1 large brisket or 2 butts or about 8 slabs of St. Louis style ribs. I didn’t make any modifications to this pit even though I have thought about it many times. Those are probably coming very soon those as I think she is on her last leg and I don’t want to let her go. The second barbecue I got was my M&R trailer and she is the “Mistress.”
The Mistress is six feet wide, 24” deep and 22” high. She is long enough to do 18 full slabs, 14-16 – 15lb briskets, 12 – 20lb turkeys, or even a whole hog. All of that capacity is great but my favorite functional feature is the reverse flow design. Unlike traditional off-sets, the reverse-flow design forces the air and smoke from the firebox along the bottom of the cook chamber inside of channel created via a metal pane. The smoke raises into the cook chamber at the end opposite of the firebox through an opening in the metal pane and reverses flow back towards the side with the firebox and stacks. The smoke then smacks the meat and does a few circus tricks before exiting through the smoke stacks which are situated on the same side of the pit as the firebox. Once the pane heats up, it helps with heat retention because it will bring the temperature inside the cook chamber back up quicker than a traditional off-set would. This helps a lot especially during the cooler cooks during overnight competitions when you have to open the pit to wrap meats.
Three other features that I really like about my M&R trailer are the smoke stacks, box design, and rims. The ‘cool’ factor of the dual stacks on the cook chamber and then the third on the warmer box next to them just makes for a very sexy design. When I am pulling my pit down the road, I can’t even begin to tell you how many ‘thumbs up’ I get from other cars. At competitions, even though I usually do not vend because I am a very small team, I always get people coming up and saying “Wow, is that rims on a BBQ pit?” or “That’s cool!” referencing the versatility of a barbecue trailer with a 6’ cooker, 3 open storage compartments, a high pressure propane burner, a 22’ x 22’ grill, a warmer box, and even the Kitchen sink!
I had been looking at a lot of different cookers but I went with M&R because they had great workmanship and a great price point. After seeing their original 72 SWT (Smoker, Warmer Box, Trailer) video I called them up and asked if they would be amiable to me taking their original design and customizing it. They were 100% on board from the jump. I literally drew up my concept on a piece of paper and emailed it over to them. After a couple of weeks of back and forth and exchanging ideas, they digitized it and eventually we have the monster I cook on today. From first contact until I picked up the pit it was probably about 4 months. I couldn’t be happier with the performance and look of the pit. I was able to get something custom made with a ton of versatility but still maintain the staples of a traditional barbecue with the sleek black paint, big firebox and great performance.
M&R: What’s the goal for your competition BBQ career?
Wade: Easy. No. 1 at The Jack, the Kingsford Invitational, American Royal and the Memphis in May! To win Grand Champion at those events, or hell even just one, would probably be the highlight of a cook’s career besides their first ever Grand Championship. The Jack, Kingsford Invitational and American Royal are all invite only. You need to win a qualifying Grand Championship or State Grand Championship to get an invite. The Memphis in May is a whole hog contest and whole hog is something I feel every pitmaster should try at least once if only for bragging rights. Some cooks believe you can’t really master BBQ without tackling the whole hog but I think that it would just be a great experience that could only be beat by maybe the whole cow, which I have seen before!
Nothing succeeds in life like excess! I love BBQ, almost every aspect of it (competition chicken prep probably being the only thing I could do without)! Anything I do with this hobby I am always looking to improve, learn, or just have fun. I am by no means perfect and competition BBQ is not backyard, so there are a lot of differences and even more that I still have yet to learn. But I think to win those, more so than anything else, would give me a sense of self-satisfaction with BBQ that, I think, could only be rivaled by the raving I hear from customers after they try my food. I am a people pleaser, but winning those contest would be for me and for bragging rights!
On the business side of things, I want to open up a simple BBQ joint after I retire from the military. Sticking with tradition, I envision something like Franklin Barbecue (Austin, TX) or Adamson Barbecue (Toronto, Ontario in Canada) where I am open from 11am until SOLD OUT! I don’t want set hours, because that means guaranteeing product which means you always buy more than you sell but more importantly I think you lose quality if you have set hours. Because you would need to always have meat available, you have to do unnatural things to it in order to hold it throughout the day and keep it moist. If you get a line before you even open up and slice as you serve until you sell out you can ensure you are always giving the best possible, top-quality product to your customers.
I am not a mad scientist but every little thing counts and the guys and gals that make it, I mean really make it, in this industry pay attention to detail and sweat the small stuff because they know that’s what it takes to stay consistent. I love this industry because cooks are not always on the lookout for the newest trends in cuisine like chefs need to do keep their restaurant current or trying to create some super fancy dish. It’s just a bunch of good people that like great barbecue. I sort of equate it to the camaraderie of the military. Every time we move, we are always welcomed with open arms by other military families because they know what it’s like to be the “new kid on the block” every 2-3 years. In BBQ, no matter where we go, we are greeted with open arms by folks that love to eat and talk about this crazy hobby!
M&R: Thank you for your time and sharing your story with us. Any final thoughts? Where can folks find you competing at next?
Wade: I am from a working class family but what I love about this BBQ thing is that it transcends your social class, wealth status, and culture. Barbecue is the people’s food. It doesn’t matter where you are from, if you eat meat (or even if you don’t we got some grilled veggies for you too!) and like friends and family this is the food for you. You can laugh, eat, drink, kick back and relax and I love that about it!
My next competition will likely not be until the fall as my job starts to ramp up going into the summer through the end of September. But you can find TREmendous Que every First Sunday in Riverview just pass the corner of US 301 and Balm Rd. We are right off of US 301 on the east side of the road! Be sure to check us out on Facebook at facebook.com/tremendousque, Instagram, or Youtube “TREmendous Que.” We will always have the latest and greatest info about where we will be and what we will be cooking up!
Catching Up With Rising BBQ Competitor Wade Morris of TREmendous Que March 7th, 2017Staff
Got a craving for warm and delicious stroopwafel? If you live in the Jacksonville area finding freshly baked Dutch inspired deserts can be nearly impossible. Fortunately in 2016,Van D’s Dutch Delightsentered the scene to fill the void and quickly become a staple of the Jacksonville food truck community. Since starting their mobile food business Van D’s isn’t just serving up one-of-a-kind deserts, but has introduced countless locals to a whole new food group that many didn’t even know existed.
Take for example the stroopwafel, a Dutch word that translates to “syrup waffle” in English. The stroopwafel is a staple of the Van D’s Dutch Delights menu and can best be described by this writer as two super thin waffles put together with syrup in the middle. Another accurate description is just plain old delicious and although many in the United States have never tried it, the treat is extremely popular desert in the Netherlands.
Of course, Van D’s Dutch Delights has taken it’s own spin on this traditional desert by serving amped up variations of this classic by adding chocolate, strawberry, caramel or cinnamon. View photos of a sample of their tasty treats below.
Stroopwafel’s and other tasty treats from Van D’s Dutch Delights.
The Abridged History of the Stroopwafel
Although the exact date the stroopwafel was first invented is debated (most reports state the late 18th century or early 19th century), the desert hails from Gouda, a municipality in South Holland that was founded in the middle ages. Today, it is reported that there are four active factories in Gouda that continue to produce the stroopwafel for mass consumption.
As the story goes a baker by the name of Gerard Kamphuisen was looking for ways to reduce waste and created the stroopwafel with excess dough. Gerard’s creation would quickly go on to become a local favorite and eventually a traditional desert.
Learn More about Van D’s Dutch Delights
If you live in the Jacksonville area, you can find out where Van D’s will be heading next by visiting their Events page on Facebook. You can regularly find them at popular food truck destinations such as the Jax Food Truck Court or catch them early next month at the Fleming Island Plantation.
In addition stroopwafels, Van D’s also serves hot chocolate, Dutch coffee, malts and ice cream. The Dutch coffee or hot chocolate in particular are an excellent compliment to a stroopwafel. Bonus Tip: A common way to enjoy this desert is to place it over a cup of hot coco or coffee to help warm the desert and melt the syrup.
M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks, located just outside of Jacksonville, FL, is proud to have built this one-of-a-kind desert trailer. The external wrap was completed by the fine folks at MediaWorks Graphic (recently acquired by Dimension Design) in Jacksonville.
Jacksonville’s Newest Desert Craving: Stroopwafels from Van D’s Dutch Delights December 26th, 2016Staff
At M&R we have the privilege of working with many different entrepreneurs and organizations across the country to help build their unique vision. The story of Refuge Coffee Co. based out of Clarkston, GA, (located just outside Atlanta) was one we had to share with you on the blog.
Refuge Coffee Co. is a non-profit organization formed with the goal of creating more jobs and providing job training to some of the 2,500 refuges that settle in the Clarkston each year. Since Refuge Coffee Co. is a new non-profit without an endless amount of resources they chose to begin their venture with a single mobile coffee truck. To help raise capital for the conversion, they started a crowd-funding campaign (video from the campaign is below) on PureCharity.com and were able to raise $30,000 for the conversion. Refuge Coffee Co.’s is goal is to ultimately become will be a self-sustaining organization with a coffee shop and brand of coffee supplying revenue in addition to the truck.
Kitti Murray, founder of Refuge Coffee Co., was kind enough to take the time to respond to a few of our questions about the non-profit and plans for the recently built coffee truck. If you want to learn more, visit RefugeCoffeeCo.com.
M&R: Tell us how Refuge Coffee Co. got started?
Kitti: My husband and I moved to Clarkston three years ago, fully aware of the demographic here, but with no plans other than to be good neighbors to the refugees in our neighborhood. It was an intentional move in that sense, but no plans to start a business.
Of the many challenges, the job situation for most resettled refugees was abysmal and weighed on our hearts. (A jobless rate that was half the state average and really bad options at that.) We also noticed right away that while there were many small mono-ethnic shops/restaurants here, there was no multi-ethnic community hub.
I’d heard that 85% of immigrants to our country have never been inside an American home. It seemed to me there was a hospitality gap as well as job/financial one. Yikes – no coffee shop! I think the coffee shop is kind of like an extension of the American living room, so in time, the idea for a coffee shop that would employ and train refugees lodged in my head. But I kept thinking I’d tell younger, smarter people about it and someone would do it! Eventually, the conversations led back to me doing it.
M&R: What are some of the challenges that refugees face in Clarkson?
Kitti: I’ve included a flyer about us that tells some of this. CNN called us the “most diverse square mile in the world.” I think it is beautiful here – a mash-up of African/Asian/Arabic cultures. But because it is low-income and under-served, people are not drawn here… and they miss out. Over 60 languages… women walk down the street with baskets on their heads and elderly Nepali women bow and tell you Namaste everywhere you go.
M&R: What was it like setting up a non-profit? Was it easy to get support? Difficult? Explain the process.
Kitti: Well, my husband and I have been in the ministry/non-profit world for years, but nothing prepared me for the challenges or the exhilaration of this whole thing. People have gotten behind us like crazy. But it’s still scary every single day. I think the thing I had going for me (this is my baby, but my husband is the biggest cheerleader) is that I know what I don’t know, which is almost everything. Zero business acumen. So I cashed in dozens of one hour free consultations. I have mentors. We have great attorneys and an even greater board of directors. Plywood People (look them up!) agreed to sponsor us at the beginning. Caleb Goodrum (our Director of Operations) and I found each other through some weird connections… We could NOT do this without him. Safehouse Roasters has been invaluable. A friend in the community offered to raise her own salary so she could head up our job training… So many smart, gifted people and organizations. It’s been great.
M&R: How did you come up with the big idea #1 for a coffee truck?
Kitti: I started out wanting to build a shop (that’s phase two). Our board suggested the truck as a test and a way to start “small” – it’s kind of our minimum viable product that doesn’t feel minimum. Over time, we’ve realized what a great decision that was. We want to tell the Clarkston story to Atlanta and this is such a great way to do that. Our trainees get to experience so many wonderful parts of our city. It makes us nimble as we figure out sustainability. And besides, it looks so great!
M&R: What are your goals for year one of Refuge Coffee Co.?
Kitti: Oh, we have goals! To create a culture that celebrates the refugee community. To become sustainable (i.e. profitable, so we don’t rely on donations). To build so much buy-in in the community and beyond that by the end of one year we are raising funds to build a shop here. To put little, beautiful Clarkston on the map!
Data supplied by Refuge Coffee Co.
M&R: Where can folks go to learn more?
Kitti: Social media tells the up-to-date story, so anyone who wants to know more or wants to share might want to start there. Our website offers a way to donate… we are in need of the final dollars of our start-up capital, so donations are more than welcome these days. Also – we are in Clarkston (4170 East Ponce de Leon) every Wednesday from 7 am till 4 pm… It’s less than a mile outside 285, four miles from Decatur. The best way to learn is to experience, right
Refuge Coffee Co. – Job Training and Change Through a Coffee Truck May 23rd, 2015Staff
We’re back at M&R Trailers with Bob, and he’s got a concession truck he wants to show us for today’s video upload! This one’s rather good sized, made for The Runway Grill a couple years back, with a 17 foot box on it, we were able to get a good solid kitchen in it while keeping plenty of room for moving around.
This was originally a used truck with a Roll-up Door design; we eliminated all of the roll-up doors, rebuilt the walls, and set everything up for our customer’s needs. It made for quite a truck, big vehicle, a lot of room, and it came out very well, we’re quite happy with it. We would certainly love to put you in something like this, and this item may be big but we can do any size all the way down to sno-cone kiosks. But for now let’s take a look at this particular project.
Some of the highlights of this trailer include:
11 foot Hood system
All New Equipment and Outfitting (not counting two 24” griddles supplied by owner)
Various Cabinetry above and beneath all sink and prep tables for optimum storage capabilities
2 ½” Foam insulation in all walls and ceiling
Eat at The Runway Grill
While also presently owning a restaurant in Panama City, you can find the new mobile eatery nearby as they bring food to hungry beachgoers. The food they offer is always amazing, offering up local sandwiches and such for easy consumption. If anyone has any other information on them feel free to send us some links in that regard.
Inside Look at the Runway Grill Truck April 10th, 2015Staff
Here at M&R Trailers, we put a lot of time and effort into the work we do, focusing as much attention as we can into making quality products. We love nothing more than seeing our trucks, trailers, and bbq equipment at work out on the streets and in competitions. So it’s an even greater pleasure to see our customers succeed and shine in their field, much like Jacksonville’s own Super Food Truck. We wanted to catch up with them and their success, so we sat down with Richie Haugk to talk about their journey, truck, and where they’re going.
Question: Thanks for talking with us Richie, great to have you back! Why don’t we go down memory road a bit with how you guys started off in the industry?
Richie:I’ve been a chef my whole career, and I was really looking to start something small, always trying to do something to think big but with small aspects, and a Food Truck is the perfect way to do that. It’s just a great way to get your food directly to the consumer, instead of, you know, going through the channels of working for someone else.
The concept is how I want America to eat; I thought about doing some of the more popular food trucks, that were maybe a little easier and popular, but I decided to go to the Super Food Theme, so that people get food of substance, not just eating cheese! There’s super food all throughout our menu, on every item, some items are very good food and other items are more comforting, so we cover all items on them.
It’s been quite a roller coaster, we were one of the first food trucks that started out in Jacksonville, there was really nobody to set the trails for us, so we had to figure out a lot of things on our own. The first year was definitely very difficult, a variety of things that go wrong on a daily basis, the second year was getting us picked up quite well, we started to become more educated to the food truck market as well as being able to iron out some kinks. So we were approached a lot more for business the second year, made things a lot easier with people trying to find it, and that just got the ball rolling.
Q: What decisions went into the build for your food truck, and how has it been treating you these past years?
Richie:I wanted to go with a regular food truck instead of a trailer, since it’s a little more traditional, and then I didn’t need to buy another truck to tow it around as well. So I did a traditional, and we bought our actual truck from Disney World, was pretty well taken care of, a good sized truck, then we basically figured out what kind of equipment we needed for the type of menu we were going to have. And then our trailer is designed around so everything works properly.
Q: So why go to Jacksonville?
Richie:This is where we grew up, when we were first looking at food trucks there was no trucks out whatsoever, and there was nowhere to eat at one when we began the adventure so there was nobody to model after. We wanted to kinda start out here, and there was just barely seed of an industry when we were beginning, so we wanted to help make it happen here in our own town instead of moving somewhere else to do it.
Q: To keep it simple, what’s been some of your best moments or business successes since starting up? You worst?
Richie:Oh goodness! There’s been some decent moments, let me see… I would say the best moments is the ending of this one park, when we had a very successful week, worked our tails off the entire week, but ended putting a lot of money into the bank and get over that hump. Also, the two weddings I’ve done, they were just great, flawless, had great reviews, and some of them ended up getting set up to other things, we really liked the reviews on them.
Some of the worst moments, man there’s been a lot of them. The generator breaking down, definitely, the propane pipes busting. But the engine blowing, that was definitely the biggest, when it blew on the food truck. Luckily we were only down and out for a week though. M&R helped very much with all of these, in fact on the way back from doing an event at M&R Trailers our serpentine belt broke, and I wasn’t that far from them. So I called them to see if they knew anybody for repair, unfortunately it was a Saturday afternoon so nobody could actually repair it on that day, but they towed my truck all the way back, put chains around the bumper and pulled it with their Ford 350. About a half an hour back, they kept it there overnight, got the belt fixed very cheap and it ended up not being a big deal at all.
Q: Anything you’d do differently?
Richie:No, I love it!
Q: I hear you’re planning on going brick-and-mortar, tell us a bit about that project.
Richie:Yep, we happen to have an opportunity to move into a great location downtown, so we’re super excited about doing that as well as the food truck for special events. But the restaurant has always kind of been a goal to achieve, so it’s nice being able to pull it off.
Q: What’s the process been like for that, especially after all the time on Food Truck-related concerns?
Richie:Well the process has been decent, it’s always up and down, you never know what’s next, you get money you have to tuck it away, it’s not as easy-come easy-go. But you’ve got to work a lot of hours, don’t get a high hourly wage (maybe like $8/hr).
I guess with the Food Truck it’s been sort of a means to an end to build up the reputation for the restaurant, and the feeling is much higher at a restaurant because of the amount of volume you’re able to do, alcohol sales, and different outlets you’re able to do.
Q: So is this solely where you guys are looking to, or do you have a couple other near or far future plans on your mind?
Richie:Yeah I don’t wanna give away all the secrets, but we’re gonna have the food truck as well as the restaurant, and it looks like we’re going to be taking over the space next to the restaurant right now, so there’s already room for expansion right there. And then there’s a couple other locations we’re looking into downtown, as well as we’re gonna be wanting to go to the beach somewhere in the future right now, a good demographic for our food style.
Q: Is there any particular piece of advice you’d like to impart on new owners getting into the mobile catering business?
Richie:Just be ready for the ups and downs of the mobile food industry. I don’t recommend it for anybody who’s not in the restaurant industry already, because it’s already just a tremendous beast. And then add on to driving your kitchen to places… I just hope you’re in the industry already and know what to expect. Service is actually the easiest time of the day, normally the rush should be the toughest!
We are very happy to hear of the stories and successes that SFT’s has been able to garner, and are so proud to see our product being used in action by such an amazing team! M&R Trailers continue to wish them the best of luck in their future goals, and can’t wait to hear back from them again!
Customer Success Story: Super Food Truck March 30th, 2015Staff
At M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks there’s a saying we use to describe our custom builds: If you can dream it, we can build it.
This statement certainly applies to Steve Perry’s mobile cooling station calledThe Polar Podbased out of Jacksonville, Florida. As seen in the video below, Steve shares how he came up with the idea for his mobile cooling concept:
During a hot day of biking on the beach with some friends, Steve became overheated. After a while, Steve thought something could be medically wrong as he couldn’t seem to cool down enough. So Steve asked a restaurant owner if he could sit in his walk-in cooler to bring his temperature down. The restaurant owner agreed and after just a few short minutes in the cooler Steve started feeling a lot better. That’s when Steve had his entrepreneurial “Aha moment” to start The Polar Pod.
In addition to providing a fun venue to cool down with a flat screen television, The Polar Pod offers a variety of health and safety benefits to attendees of large events like concerts and rallies during summer months. Heat related issues can be life-threatending, especially among the elderly, having an on-site cooling unit that’s mobile can be a key prevention tool for ailments like heat stroke. For most people, all that is needed is 5 – 10 minutes in The Polar Pod and they’re refreshed and ready to get back to doing what they love outdoors.
Above is a promotional video that provides additional information about the business. The Polar Pod is available for rent in Jacksonville and the surrounding area. You can get in contact with Steve and The Polar Pod by visiting their website or reaching out to them on Facebook and Twitter.
Mobile Cooling Station: The Polar Pod in Jacksonville, FL January 8th, 2015Staff
The Gourmet Aviatoris a food truck that received high praise for it’s design when it was built in 2012. The truck was even featured on the cover of ADVANTAGE Business Magazine(cover image shown to the right) that same year. Fast forward two years, the Gourmet Aviator continues to receive recognition for their food.
Not only has the truck become a familiar staple of the Jacksonville food truck scene, but Alex Montanez of the Grilled Aviator competed on and won a cooking competition on the program American Grilledon the Travel Channel. The video below is a teaser to the program Alex was featured.
In today’s blog post, we take another look at the Gourmet Aviator on Alex’s second day of operating the food truck. This concession truck went through an incredible transformation and was originally an old Frito Lay truck. It just goes to show you as long as the foundation of the truck is intact and the engine is running well, these older trucks can be completely overhauled to create a longterm mobile business.
Highlights from the Video
Get a 360 degree view of this unique aviator food truck wrap.
18 foot truck that was completely redone.
8 kw Generac Generator – The generator will also slide out for easy servicing.
View the external cord connection that enables direct power to the vehicle.
If you live in the Jacksonville area, check out the Gourmet Aviator website for more information about the business or to book them at your next catering event. You can also view the list of delicious menu items that are available, including Plantain Sliders and Nutella Empanadas.
The Gourmet Aviator Concession Truck Flying High in Jacksonville March 30th, 2015Staff
Bem-Bom is a truly unique food truck serving up Portuguese and Tex-Mex inspired dishes to residents of the Orlando area. In many cases, Bem-Bom serves meals you simply can’t find anywhere else. A couple examples from the menu include Piri-Piri Chicken Prego and The Running Duck, a duck confit sautéed with chilies and Thai basil that received two thumbs up from Bob. Bem-Bom is owned and operated by Francisco Mendonca whose customers often refer to him as “Chef Chico” for short.
In today’s video, we learn more about Chef Chico, Bem-Bom, and the concession truck used to operate his business. This truck was built by M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks in 2012, but Chico’s business continues to thrive as we reach the conclusion of 2014. Chico’s truck is regularly booked for catering events, private parties, and was at the Downtown Lakeland Food Truck Rally earlier this week. If you would like to book Bem-Bom for your next event, click here.
In the Video
As Bob mentions at the beginning of the video, sometimes there are misunderstandings when building custom food trucks. There’s the potential for this to happen no matter what manufacturer you ultimately choose to work with, even when they have years of experience like M&R.
However, when mistakes are made, we believe in fixing it to make the situation right. In this case, we drove down to Orlando to install a side-tray on the exterior of the vehicle.Later in the film, Chef Chico provides a description of the food served on Bem-Bom and Bob gives an all-access tour of the concession truck.
We wish Chef Chico and Bem-Bom continued success heading into 2015 and beyond!
A Closer Look at Orlando’s Bem-Bom Concession Truck December 12th, 2014Staff