Featured Client – Sweet Aloha Food Truck

Featured Client – Sweet Aloha Food Truck

Each month, Insure My Food shines the spotlight on a featured client doing big things in the mobile food industry.  For June, we introduce Sweet Aloha, LLC based in Royersford, PA. Janeen and Bryan Algeo brought a whole new cuisine to the Philly burbs! Are you a current client interested in contributing to our blog?  Send an email and let us know!

Tell us a little about your truck and how you began.

Back in the winter of 15/16, we took a trip to to the Hawaiian Islands and fell in love with the culture and cuisine. The whole Aloha lifestyle, a way of living and treating each other with love and respect was so intriguing to us and we wanted to bring a piece of it back east with us to share with others. We tried to build our brand on just that, giving people the Hawaiian feel in Pennsylvania, and what better way to do that than through the Hawaiian cuisine! We also saw a need to give people a healthy, nutritious, but tasty alternative on the run to promote a healthy lifestyle through healthy eating. These two things paired great together and that is how we came up with the name “Sweet Aloha.”
To develop our menu we visited every Acai/ Smoothie bar we could find from Hawaii to Southern Cali to New York City! We looked at how they made their bowls and developed our recipes with the best taste in mind. We decided to start our adventure in April of 2017 and we operate in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania in and around the Limerick/Collegeville/Pottstown/King of Prussia areas.

How did you first go about finding spaces and events to sell around? Do you have any tips for first timers?

We basically started by going to some of our friends gyms and selling there. From there it spread by word of mouth, Facebook and Instagram. Social Media is a great way to get your name out there but ultimately it came down to great family and friends (which is our “Ohana” Hawaiian for family) to help us get it out there.

Describe one of the major successes or memorable moments you’ve had since opening your trailer.

We have memorable moments every day we are out. When we here the responses and see everyone enjoying what they are tasting (most for the first time) it means so much to us that we are able to give people a great product at a great price.

What is the greatest piece of advice you’ve either been given or can give to people looking to start in this industry?

Make sure you are thorough when exploring the guidelines for the Health Department and County.

What are some challenges you have as a food truck owner in your area?

The biggest challenge for us we educating the public on our product. Acai and Pitaya are new to the area although they have been around forever in Hawaii and So Cal. They are starting to catch on now in the shore points in the east.

Networking within your territory can sometimes be a challenge – what are some of the best ways you’ve found to connect with people in your area?

Facebook and Instagram are are great resources to reach people in any area!

Let’s talk about social media presence – where can we find you online?

We are on Instagram and Facebook. Our website has menu and other information. Facebook and Instagram work best for us.

Featured Client – M-N-M BBQ Tampa Pig Roast

Featured Client – M-N-M BBQ Tampa Pig Roast

Each month, Insure My Food shines the spotlight on a featured client doing big things in the mobile food industry.  For March, we introduce M-N-M BBQ/Tampa Pig Roast based in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Are you a current client interested in contributing to our blog?  Send an email and let us know!

Tell us a little about your truck and how you began.

We have been operating in great Tampa Bay area since 2001! We got started as our owner had a love of slow smoked foods, and initially had a lot of success with fresh markets and some festivals. Since then our business has expanded to catering events including weddings, family reunions, and large corporate functions. Some of the best chef’s in the area trust us with their BBQ needs, and we are proud to partner up with them. After 15 years in business we are using our mobile success to open our first restaurant.

How did you first go about finding spaces and events to sell around? Do you have any tips for first timers?

Our area has experienced an explosion of mobile vendors in the past 5-6 years. We prefer fresh markets, catering, and a limited amount of corporate lunch time food truck events. Promoters also offer opportunities. We prefer to work with our food truck association Gulf To Bay Food Truck Association.

Describe one of the major successes or memorable moments you’ve had since opening your trailer.

Serving large events of over 1,000 guests. Truly a challenge, and one we have met well!

What is the greatest piece of advice you’ve either been given or can give to people looking to start in this industry?

Do your homework, and pick something unique! When we first started there were some mobile BBQ outfits in our area, none that operated like we do. Since then we have added 12-15 licensed mobiles and dozens of bandits also doing BBQ. I followed my passion for the foods we do, and that shows in our longevity and success. BBQ might not be a viable choice today starting over again as someone new.

What are some challenges you have as a food truck owner in your area?

The industry has changed, we have a lot of trucks.

Networking within your territory can sometimes be a challenge – what are some of the best ways you’ve found to connect with people in your area?

Social media helps and is a relatively recent phenomenon. When we first stated that wasn’t available. Word of mouth is always a best bet, but that takes time to establish

Let’s talk about social media presence – where can we find you online?

We have a Facebook page at Tampa Pig Roast and M-N-M BBQ. People respond best to posts with pictures and interest stories. We also have a website www.tampapigroast.com.

Featured Client – Fire Truck Pizza

Featured Client – Fire Truck Pizza

fire truck pizza

Each month, Insure My Food shines the spotlight on a featured client doing big things in the mobile food industry.  For February, we introduce Fire Truck Pizza Company based in North Royalton (Cleveland), Ohio.  Are you a current client interested in contributing to our blog?  Send an email and let us know!

Tell us a little about your truck and how you began.

We have been making pizza in a wood fired oven our entire lives.. it is how we do pizza! People started asking if they could have their parties at our house for the pizza alone and soon we were doing parties for 100 in our house! So, we decided to make it a business. Doing a food truck was less start up then a restaurant so went this route. We are in our 4th year and based in Cleveland, Ohio. We learned so much from the build process that we now also manufacture fire trucks with wood burning ovens!  Fire Truck Pizza Fabrication Company began in 2013. 

How did you first go about finding spaces and events to sell around? Do you have any tips for first timers?

The first year out you have to do a lot of public events, just start googling “Festivals in (your city)”. You have to get your name out there and this is a good way to do it. Even though private events are more lucrative, you need to start somewhere. Another way is to do promotional events at places that will advertise for you like radio or local TV stations, your local newspaper, etc.

Describe one of the major successes or memorable moments you’ve had since opening your trailer.

I attended a party as a guest where our food truck was doing the catering.  As I walked up to the house I saw the truck, our crew and how it was operating as a well oiled machine. It was great feeling to see it in action!

What is the greatest piece of advice you’ve either been given or can give to people looking to start in this industry?

Don’t think you are going to start a food truck for less than $100,000. And don’t think for a minute if you want to survive off this business that it isn’t a full time job. Also, don’t think of other food trucks in your area as competition, if your city has a lively food truck scene it will only help you be more successful by working together.

What are some challenges you have as a food truck owner in your area?

There are A LOT of food trucks in our area, and every year there are more.  So, we need to continue to come up with menu items and other things that differentiate us. It is a constant evolving business!

Networking within your territory can sometimes be a challenge – what are some of the best ways you’ve found to connect with people in your area?

Our city started a food truck association.  It is a great way to connect with others in the same business. We have a Facebook page that we can throw out questions and get quick answers. There are local business groups you can connect with also, just search for when they have meetings and see if it is a good match for you.

Let’s talk about social media presence – where can we find you online?

Social media is such a huge part of this business. We have a FB page, Twitter and Instagram, and of course our website. People get very mad if your truck location is not kept up to date, so make sure you do this! IF you have to cancel, make sure you announce it on social media. Once you have a following they really rely on this as a way to find you. People love pictures too, not only of your food but just of the events you are doing, it helps engage customers.

Check us out on our website, on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Featured Client – Raw Chef Renee

Featured Client – Raw Chef Renee

Raw Chef Renee

Each month, Insure My Food shines the spotlight on a featured client doing big things in the mobile food industry.  For November, we introduce Raw Chef Renee based in Katy, Texas but also ships throughout the entire state!  Are you a current client interested in contributing to our blog?  Send an email and let us know!

Tell us a little about your truck and how you began…

I discovered the raw lifestyle in 2007 (searching for a way to provide healthy meals for myself and my family) through Alissa Cohen and fell in love with the food. It was my kids who suggested that I photograph my meals that I made for them, which led me to try different raw vegan recipes. I developed a passion for making raw food through Alissa Cohen. I began teaching classes through her certified program in 2010.

 

I was a flight attendant for Continental (United) Airlines for 20 years at that time. Starting as a Personal Chef helped me to develop a love for making meals for others. My early menus consisted of meals I made for my family. Soon, I began working my gourmet raw business through Tru Meals in Houston, TX. When Tru Meals closed, I was still interested in continuing my professional business. At that point, my Darling Hubby saw an article on food trucks and the idea to have a completely raw, vegan, living food trailer was born! After 6 months of juggling both careers, I prayerfully decided to work my certified food trailer full time because it became something I really loved to do. I stay mostly in the Katy area (close to home), but I do move around the city and do events in Houston.

How did you first go about finding spaces and events to sell around? Any tips for first timers?

Finding a good spot is a challenge for food trucks! Most places want to charge you a space rental fee, but there ARE places that will let you park for free….you just have to search them out. I started by asking myself what part of town I’d like to be in. Then, visit businesses (taking samples of my food and showing them the menu is always a good thing!) and ask permission to park there. You will hear “No’s” before you hear “Yes'”, but don’t give up! 🙂

Describe one of the major successes or memorable moments you’ve had since opening your trailer.

Since opening my food trailer, a major success for me is when I see my regular customers come back each week!!! I love it when people stand outside of my window and talk about how much they love my food!!! People really open up to me about the struggles they have to live a healthier lifestyle and it warms my heart to be able to share my passion with them. 🙂 I also love doing Demos for groups and teaching classes!

What is the greatest piece of advice you’ve either been given or can give to people looking to start in this industry?

I read the greatest piece of advise from the Bible at Matthew 6:22 where it encourages me to “Keep a focused (or simple) eye”. With that in mind, I pay more attention to my family and spiritual needs while keeping my business in the proper place in my life. I do certain things on certain days for the business which helps me to maintain and balance all of my responsibilities.

 

Another valuable piece of advise I was given came from my mentor, Alissa Cohen. She told me to “Circle my wagons” which means to have people around you who encourage you, build you up and want to see you succeed. Running a food truck business is hard work and sometimes, when business is slow, you can get very discouraged. So, positivity energy keeps me going and helps me to weather the storm when times are hard!!!!

What are some challenges you have as a food truck owner in your area?

Weather is definitely a challenge for me because people don’t seem to come out when the weather is bad, or I am not able to bring the trailer out to serve in rainy or cold weather. I have set up an online order system for those days, which includes delivery, pickup, or shipping (within Texas) options, so that helps!

Networking within your territory can sometimes be a challenge – what are some of the best ways you’ve found to connect with people in your area?

My regular customers allow me to text them when I’m in the area. Also I post my schedule on my website: www.RawVeganChefRenee.com.

 

I have also found that connecting with vegan meet-up groups or vegan social media groups helps to spread the word!

Let’s talk about social media presence – where can we find you online?

I have my own website, and we are on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

 

I enjoy taking photos and video testimonies from customers at my trailer and posting them. People love seeing their photo and will share it on their social media page or invite friends to look at it on my pages. Word of mouth or page to page referrals work very well!!!

Featured Client – The 13th Taco

Featured Client – The 13th Taco

Each month, Insure My Food shines the spotlight on a featured client doing big things in the mobile food industry.  For October, we introduce The 13th Taco from Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina. Along with his wife Marilyn, Chef David Peraza creates outside of the box, delicious taco creations!  Are you a current client interested in contributing to our blog?  Send an email and let us know!

Tell us a little about your truck and how you began…

My husband, Chef David, and I (Marilyn) have been in the food business for over 30 years combined. Having had brick and mortar restaurants in the past, we both decided we wanted to look into a food truck for their next restaurant venture. Three years ago, we started looking for a truck. Finally, by accident, we found the truck we would use for our mobile food unit (MFU). We purchased the truck and began the build out process. Chef David, originally from Mexico, specializes in world class Mexican Cuisine, but wanted something more suitable for street venues – simple, but upscaled slightly – made more with the American palette in mind, The 13th Taco was born. Our motto: Everything Fits in a Tortilla! We have had our truck on the road since Friday, May 13th of this year and operate in the Raleigh/Durham area of North Carolina.

How did you first go about finding spaces and events to sell around? Any tips for first timers?

Researching the venues where other trucks were going to sell their food. Many postcards were sent out introducing The 13th Taco, and phone calls were made to begin booking dinner services and then lunch services to larger businesses. Tip: Open a facebook page and start marketing your truck early, before it is completely ready to hit the street so people get familiar with your name.

Describe one of the major successes or memorable moments you’ve had since opening your truck.

Our very first event was at a local brewery. Unknown to us, a major food critic came to dine “curb side” with us and loved the food so much that after only two weeks of being open, we had our first “major” review in the News & Observer (Raleigh’s largest newspaper). You can read the review here. Most food establishments (truck or brick and mortar) don’t see a review within the first six month or so of being open. This was major for us. We also just learned that we are going to be featured on the local news. Another huge success for us. The most “memorable” moments are when people receive their plate of either 3 tacos, chips and salsa, or Nachos – take a look at it and say: “Oh Wow” then come back and tell us how much they love the food – That’s what we’re here for!

What is the greatest piece of advice you’ve either been given or can give to people looking to start in this industry?

Don’t run out of food! That’s our advice to you. It’s very difficult to judge how many people you will feed at any given event, so do some research and be as prepared as you can.

What are some challenges you have as a food truck owner in your area?

The biggest challenges have more to do with the permits and ordinances within each city. They are all so different, and unfortunately, although we are really no threat to any of the brick and mortar restaurants, many of them don’t want us around and fight via the city councils and other local offices to keep us away. Sad, because they should realize that we actually help bring more people to areas some people may never go to – thereby introducing them to the surrounding businesses and restaurants as well. Everyone could benefit from the food trucks coming into their areas.

Networking within your territory can sometimes be a challenge – what are some of the best ways you’ve found to connect with people in your area?

Luckily for us, we have a couple associations specifically for food truck owners/operators in our area. We all support each other and help each other however we can.

Let’s talk about social media presence – where can we find you online?

We have our own website, and we are on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. People follow us on Twitter and Facebook to find out where we’ll be. They love to see photos of food, and especially learn about any “specials” we may be preparing.

Featured Client – Twisted Mike’s

Featured Client – Twisted Mike’s

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Each month, Insure My Food shines the spotlight on a featured client doing big things in the mobile food industry.  For September, we introduce Twisted Mike’s from Springfield, MO, where Mike creates delicious comfort foods with a twist!  Are you a current client interested in contributing to our blog?  Send an email and let us know!

 

Tell us a little about your truck and how you began…

I have always wanted to own and operate a restaurant, but never had enough money to open one. I had worked in the restaurant industry since I was 16, and had been blessed enough to travel the country opening restaurants, being General Managers, and a Multi-Unit General Manager. Great experiences, but I wanted to do something a little more fun. Like a lot of people, the “Great American Food Truck Race” on the Food network got my attention on a new possibility of opening a restaurant on wheels. 

 

I started my research and after much thought, decided that having a truck built was the best option. I also found that it was cheaper than buying a used one and then refurbishing and fixing it. Now like most things new, it ran eleven weeks behind being completed. At first, I was a little angry, but with this business you learn to roll with the punches, and it actually ended up being a very good thing. It allowed me to work on my menu. I had no concept of what kind of menu to do when I ordered the truck. I changed my mind over and over again, and to be honest my menu is always fluctuating. I am constantly adding and deleting items, rotating items, to keep the menu fresh. My friend who does our signs laughed at me when I told them I wanted a professional sign done. She couldn’t believe that I had actually settled on a menu. Truth is, that’s my regular menu, I am constantly adding stuff on a chalk board menu. I made the mistake when I first opened of creating a menu that I thought would “sell.” I didn’t really enjoy creating it, and after a while i found out that was a mistake. I needed to make food that I enjoyed to cook and that I thought was fun. Our menu focuses on home cut fries. We offer a large variety of fry topping, such as crack fries, cashew chicken fries, duck confit fries, general chicken fries, sushi fries, etc. We also offer a variety of sandwiches and tacos to help balance out the menu. Now, we kinda break the rules to what I read about what a food truck menu should be. We offer over 24 menu items, sometimes as many as 30 at one time. Now the key to this is making sure our those items can all be prepared within 3 minutes and we only prep 13 items. The menu is just a combination of those items, and we could actually do many more, but we have to stop at some point!  We opened in Springfield, MO on September 19, 2015. We operate the truck within Southwest Missouri, but are beginning to venture out a little further.

How did you first go about finding spaces and events to sell around? Any tips for first timers? (Sidenote – We LOVE this answer!)

Finding a good location can be extremely hard, and it really depends on the rules for your city.  We started out renting a location in front of a shopping center. In Springfield, the city has a list of approved spaces that we can rent from. From that location, we can move anywhere to do events, we just need to have a home base. After a couple of months, we decided that location was a mistake (granted, it was winter), and we moved to the Food Truck Park. We find it as a great home base, but we find that we do a lot more sales when we roam to various businesses and festivals. 

 

We are constantly looking online to see what events we can find. We look everywhere, from local event pages, Facebook, news papers, to anywhere where they list the festivals for Southwest Missouri.

 

The majority of the businesses that we travel to on a weekly bases actually contacted us. It is really important to develop a great reputation right off the bat.  We really focus on quality food at a reasonable price. (a little higher than Wendy’s, but not by much).

 

You also need to keep your promise. If an event asks you to do an event for a certain price in a certain amount of time, you need to make it happen. One of our events wanted us to serve 150 people in 90 minutes. They wanted 15 menu choices, and we made it to order. We accomplished it, word spread, then another company ask us to serve 82 people within 30 minutes, and we were to do this at the top of each hour. We made it happen, word spread.  

 

Your reputation is as important, if not more important, than the location you choose. You can always change location, not reputation.

Describe one of the major successes or memorable moments you’ve had since opening your truck.

Our opening weekend was a doozy.  Our first day open was Sept 19. It was the first ever food truck festival in Springfield, MO, and we had a wedding the next afternoon an hour away for 250 guest. There were 10 food trucks for that event, over 8000 people showed up. Guest waited 2 hours in line to eat our food, and we were dishing it out fast, we were exhausted. I got the truck home around 9 pm that evening, bed by 10, and was at Walmart at 1 am to shop and start working on the food for the wedding. That was a crazy weekend. A hugely successful weekend. Like I said before, do it right. We gave away a ton of business cards at that wedding and have had done several other weddings because of it! Your reputation is super important!

What is the greatest piece of advice you’ve either been given or can give to people looking to start in this industry?

Like I have mentioned before, your number one priority is your reputation. If you can’t do a event right, don’t do it. If you sign up to do it, do it better than everyone else. Plan, plan, and plan some more. Besides reputation, you gotta love what you do. It’s not just about the money, granted that is why we do it, but you have to love doing it. There are good days and bad days, and sometimes more bad days than good, but that is ok. Even when I am tired, and sales have been low for a few days, I can walk onto the truck and I get all excited. The possibilities for the day,  I feel like a little kid living his dream.

What are some challenges you have as a food truck owner in your area?

There are always challenges to operating your food truck. I think our biggest challenge is opening the doors to new businesses and of course those “waiting list”. We have found that there are many businesses that would love to have us come out and serve their staff, but once they start to look at their lease agreements, they find that they are not allowed to do that. Many festivals have a waiting list for food vendors, sometimes as long as five years until you can get in. Getting a good reputation has helped us break down some of those walls, but some of them we can’t (lease agreements).  We are also a fairly new industry in the city and all the food trucks are working hard to educate the community about our business.  Challenges are just that, challenges, and challenges are new opportunities.

 

I think it is also important to understand that a food truck is like any other business.  We also have the challenges of a brick and mortar location.  We have to market and sell ourselves, we can’t expect people to just show up. It can be a challenge to decide what marketing and advertising you want to do, and yes, you have to it. 

Networking within your territory can sometimes be a challenge – what are some of the best ways you’ve found to connect with people in your area?

Don’t be a snob. You are not better than anyone else. It is important that you develop a great relationship with other trucks.  We all find ways of helping each other. If we are booked and we hear of an opportunity, we tell the other trucks, so if one of them are not booked, they can do the event, and they do the same with us.  It is about us all helping each other grow.

 

Events, we take as many as we can in our local community, even if that means turning down a larger event out of town. I know that if i can make that local event awesome, my name gets out there more and we get more events.

 

The booking agent for each client, we treat to free food. Not just once, but every time we go to there business, as a thank you. We help support their charities by giving back, we become a part of the community.  We are working now on using locally grown and produced items on our truck, again, it helps to network.

 

There are many local events that the “who’s who” attends, that is why it is important to impress every single time you do something. If you do, they will contact you.  We did an event not long ago. It was a two day festival, and we had a blast. We were suppose to open at 5 pm the first night, but we sold our first order at 11:32 am.  People at the event had heard of our reputation and came to see and try our food. We opened just for them and ended up serving almost as many people before the official opening time as we did after. These people were impressed that we made the effort to make their staff happy, which has lead to a ton of new business events.  Never complain, find a way of making it happen, and impress when you do. Best networking advice to remember is that is not about you, it is about them, and when they see that,  your business will grow. 

Let’s talk about social media presence – where can we find you online?

I cannot stress how important your online presence can be. Fun fact: Over 95% of our business luncheons, weddings, festivals, and events are booked via email and Facebook. We don’t even meet most of these guest until the day of the event. (which surprises me, especially when we consider weddings). We have our website, twistedmikesfoodtruck.com, we use twitter, (twistedmikes1), Instagram (twistedmikestruck), and Facebook (Twistedmikestruck).  We get the most response from placing pictures of our food online and when we post pictures of our clients.  The pictures that we use online are actual guest orders, every order going out should look like the picture!