When life hands you lemons, you have a choice to feel bad for yourself and give up or make lemonade. After experiencing a job loss in 2013, the husband and wife team of Pa’s Pork decided to take their more control of their destiny by starting their own food truck serving the area of Dayton, Ohio.
In today’s featured interview, Pa’s Pork shares how they started out in a 6′” x 14″ foot trailer. They also have share how they modified the trailer themselves and biggest takeaways about operating a successful mobile food business. If you happen to live in the Dayton area, be sure to visit Pa’s Pork in person to enjoy a variety of menu items like Schnitzel, pulled pork nachos, or pork chops.
FTE: Tell us how you got started?
Pa’s Pork: Pa’s Pork is the brain child of myself and my husband Pete. We began in March 2013 after I lost my job as the main wage earner for our family. We did not have cable TV and had no idea about foodtrucks. We thought we would do local festivals. Our cooking style is a fusion of my husband (European), myself (southern) and bbq.
We always grew & canned our own vegetables & cooked from scratch at home. When we opened the truck it was important to put the same love into the food as we always had for our children. With 4 kids and limited resources we were scared to death… Within 6 months we were operating in the black.
We didn’t know anything about it. We knew that we could fix/build anything in our house so why not a trailer? Our initial “foodtruck” was a 6×14 trailer and we installed the electric plumbing etc. We went to a local festival and asked one of the vendors for permission to look at his setup.
FTE: How did you learn how to start a food truck in Dayton?
Pa’s Pork: In 2013, in Dayton and the surrounding area there was not a lot of info for food trucks. They based our licensing on “mobiles” like fairs/festivals etc. No one ever inspected the electric/plumbing/gas. We had that done independently. For new people looking to get info, I would recommend asking a current truck, we are very generous with our time and information.
With regards to operating in and around Dayton, some municipalities do not allow trucks. There are some areas where we have to have a city specific license. In 2 areas, we can set up, but after one hour we have to move 100 yards. In Dayton we can only set up on private property by invitation. All trucks in Ohio must have their mobile license and a transient vendors license, some areas require serve safe certification as well as any local licenses.
FTE: Are their any unique challenges to operating a mobile food business in your area?
Pa’s Pork: When first starting out, making a grid or map of the potential area you plan to cover is a good idea. Any counties within this grid is where the new owner should head. The local health department, fire department in each county. It can vary WIDELY in each area so always ask each one their particulars..always AND DO NOT ARGUE, or say helpful things like “they don’t do that in..”
We LOVE to cook, I LOVE people, we love being our own boss, not having a limit to our potential, and we absolutely LOVE when a customer’s eye fill with light and they say “This is the best ___ I have ever had.”
FTE: Any tips for folks that dream of owning their own truck?
1.) Be able to cook and make something no one else does.
2.) Have some business sense.
3.) Be ready to work harder than you ever have… ever.
4.) Buckle up and ENJOY THE RIDE.
Recommended Resources For Getting Started In Dayton
Pa’s Pork – The official website for Pa’s Pork. In addition to finding where the truck will be next you can check out their unique menu that includes Hogcicles (Yum!) and sauerkraut balls!
Dayton Ohio Food Truck List – A nice list of many of the food trucks that serve this area, including links to their social media websites.
Dayton Food Trucks – This is a Facebook page dedicated to the vending scene in Dayton, Ohio. Great place to stay informed about updates like rally’s and other events where food trucks and carts will be present.
Business Plan – Thinking about starting a food truck? One of the best places to start is with a business plan. Download our template for getting started here.
Food Truck Case Study – Listen in and read our full-case study of a food truck getting started.