Every small business has a back story. This is especially true for food trucks whose menus often reflect the upbringing and personality of their founders. The next time you dine at a food truck be sure to ask the owner how they came up with the concept of their menu and you’ll likely find a story on how the idea to start a unit was based on around a family recipe or regional tradition.
This holds true for the husband and wife team of Nicholas and Victoria White, owners of the Soul of Salt Lake food truck in Salt Lake City, Utah. This family run food trucks cooks up a variety classic comfort foods like fried chicken, corn bread, and of course mac and cheese. Check out their website here or follow them on Facebook to see where they be serving next if you happen to live in the SLC area. Read the full interview below to see how Soul of Salt Lake got their start in the mobile food business.
FTE: Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you’ve been in business?
Victoria: My name is Victoria White, and I along with my husband, Nicholas White, own Soul of Salt Lake Food Truck. We are Los Angeles Natives And we moved to Salt Lake City 6 years ago and together decided to bring our New Orleans and Mississippi cooking influence to Salt Lake City. We opened our food truck in September of 2017 and are having much fun in this adventure!
FTE: How did you create your menu?
Victoria: Growing up, the items on our menu were staples we had in our upbringing and we decided these items were the essentials for our customers. Fried chicken, Fried Shrimp, Mac and Cheese, Collard Greens, Red Beans and Rice, Candied Yams, and Cornbread were the items we enjoy every holiday and we wanted to make sure our customers also felt they were enjoying comfort foods they would find at their holiday tables. Our menu has definitely grown since we have opened and we plan to continue to add and adjust our menu to meet the demand from our customers!
FTE: How did you figure out how to start the business in Salt Lake City, Utah?
Victoria: In our early days of getting started we used google for a lot of our research but, we were fortunate enough to find great resources. The Utah Microenterprise Loan fund provides a free entrepreneur course for women. This course allowed me to learn the fundamentals of owning and operating a business, while connecting with other women who were in business or starting a business. The Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund also provides funding for small businesses. Through the Microenterprise Loan Fund, we were able to get connected to the Small Business Development Center, through whom we met our business adviser and mentor, Peter Callister. Peter was instrumental in our ability to get started and we still seek his advice and counsel as we continue in business. Another resource we used was The Salt Lake City Corporation, who assisted us financially.
Along the way we have picked up so much vital information by simply just being willing to listen and learn. We were able to get connected to the Utah Food Truck Association, which is a non-profit for food truck owners here in Utah. This organization has helped us tremendously by shortening our learning curve. By being able to connect with other food truck owners, we have been able to save time and money by listening to their advice!
Victoria: Owning and operating a food truck is no easy feat. The hours are long and the labor is intensive. There are many hours of preparation that are involved in the small serving time we operate for lunch, dinner, or catering events. Also, owning a food truck isn’t just about knowing how to make great food, you must know how to market your business, advertise daily, calculate costs, handle your finances, keep your employees happy, and keep your customers coming back for more!
Although there are early days and late nights, we thoroughly enjoy what we do! Our customers make it all worth it!
FTE: Any issues with getting permits and licensed in the city?
Victoria: We did experience some small hang ups in getting our Salt Lake City permit, however, we found that the health department, Salt Lake City, and Fire Department were all pleasurable to work with and happy to assist in any way possible. It was very apparent that all three institutions wanted to make the process simple for food trucks and wanted to see us succeed!
FTE: What do you love about being a food truck owner?
Victoria: We have been able to fill a niche in The market by providing Soul Food here in Utah. We receive so much positive feedback and to see our customers happy is a feeling that is unmatched!
If we could give any piece of advice to other aspiring food truck owners would be to follow your passion! There will be naysayers, but as long as you preserve, you can accomplish your dreams. Also, be willing to listen to feedback and adjust your practices accordingly to constantly improve! We are constantly reaching out to our customers to make sure we continue to offer them what they want!
Want to learn more about what it takes to run a food truck business in Salt Lake City? Below are some additional resources that will put you on the right track.
Utah Microloan Fund – Excellent resource that provides training and funding to entrepreneurs. Victoria received business training, mentorship and developed relationships with other area entrepreneurs through this program.
Utah Food Truck Association – Getting tied into the local food truck association in your area can pay massive dividends. If you’re a mobile vendor in Utah, check out this non-profit to get tied into the local food truck scene.
Custom Concessions USA – Custom manufacturer that has built concession trailers and food trucks for thousands of customers, including those operating in Salt Lake City.
Business Plan – Every successful business starts with a plan first. This podcast / template will help ensure you’ve got a solid foundation for operating your future food truck.
Mobile Food Trucks in Salt Lake City – Get to know some of Utah’s best food vendors here.