Entrepreneurs are a unique and varied crowd. They are made of small business owners, corporate workers and executives, teachers, food industry folks, in fact all types of people from all kinds of places and backgrounds. And, these curious and spirited people continue to find an appeal and energy to start food truck businesses throughout the country. And, in doing so, they add to the tastes and variety of this new and wonderful community. They feed the movement (get it?)!
And, while this "migration" to owning one's own food truck may have started in some of the largest cities and most densely populated regions of the country, the movement - the process - is quickly expanding to other areas. These days you can find more food trucks in many more cities and towns than ever before. And they're spreading to smaller communities and in areas of less densely populated areas. As a matter of fact, our records at FoodTrucksIn.com show over 850 cities with at least one food truck. As an example of this growth and popularity, one area that reflects this rapid growth in lesser populated regions is Central Pennsylvania, in towns like Lancaster, York, and Harrisburg
As an example of this growth, I had often heard about Jordan and Henry who had started their Baron Von Schwein concession trailer in March of 2013. Within just a few months they had become so successful that they quickly realized that their trailer was no longer big enough to handle the load. By October (that's only 7 months!) Jordan and Henry had outfitted their food truck, and put it on the road!
I wanted to know more about what is making this duo so successful in...."smoking" up a storm!!
Eric: What did you do before starting Baron Von Schwein?
Jordan: I am still currently a HVAC sales manager in addition to running the food truck. I have been in the heating and cooling industry for about 8 years. Prior to that, I was a chef from ages 15 to 22. I worked in all kinds of restaurants from French gourmet, to family style diners. About 5 years ago, I started getting into smoking meat with my brother. We would cook separately but compare notes about equipment and recipes. We ended up building a trailer mounted smoker together for my sister's wedding and that got the ball rolling for me. I started thinking about what I could do with my new found love. A couple years later, a good friend of mine Henry Swartz and I started dreaming about a food truck. He lost his job 3 weeks later, and rather than take another job under yet another boss, he asked me if I wanted to start the food truck with him.
Eric: So how do you manage having a full time job and build your food truck business?
Jordan: I run the business, marketing and accounting side of things, and work the truck every chance I get. I love working on the truck, but I still have a full time job so I can't be on it as much as I would like. Henry runs day-to-day operation and makes all the food.
Eric: Baron Von Schwein is quite a unique name. Tell me more!
Jordan: It loosely means "master of pigs" in German. It was originally kind of a joke when my brother and I were building the smoker we wanted to come up with a name for it. We were hanging out with a bunch of friends and we were just throwing names around when our friend suggested Baron Von Schwein. It just stuck. When we started the truck we just carried it over.
Eric: Can you think of something about running a mobile food business that is very different than what your expectations were?
Jordan: I didn't expect that we would prepare so much food off of the actual truck. A large portion of it is prepared in our commissary. Every day we are out serving so it takes so much more planning and forethought than I would have expected. Even just making sure we have the right amount of food is a constant discussion.
Eric: I assume you are a BBQ truck. Tell me more!
Jordan: We serve pulled pork. We are a BBQ truck but we don't really consider ourselves one because we don't serve the other meats that you would usually see. We like simplicity, so we have really great slow smoked pork that we serve with some unique sauces. I steal from other cultures whenever I can, too.
Eric: Do you do anything unique with the pulled pork?
Jordan: Yes, we do a twist on a Bao bun. We make our own dough, and then wrap our pulled pork with one of our signature sauces inside. Then we twist them up and bake them. It's a lot of work but I have not seen anything else quite like it. I think it's one of the items that have really put us on the map.
Eric: So, I assume the pulled pork is your most popular item?
Jordan: Actually, it's got to be our Mac & Cheese. I can't believe how much Mac & Cheese we go through.
Eric: Any special memories from your first season?
Jordan: The adoration of our customers. I love every one of them because they are making it possible for us to do something this much fun. I am just always blown away by our customers' reactions. I think my favorite moment is when someone looks at a food they've ordered with suspicion or disappointment but then they take their first bite and a look of surprise just takes over. When they look back up at us they are always smiling. There is nothing better than changing someone's mind.
Eric: I know the food truck community is really growing in Central Pennsylvania. When you are not eating at your truck where do you go?
Jordan: I really love the chicken souvlaki pita from The Souvlaki Boys here in Lancaster, PA. Their Greek fries are pretty awesome and they're my son's favorite, too.
Eric: What city would you most like to travel to and check out the local food trucks?
Jordan: There are so many. Florida in general seems to have a pretty active scene. Definitely Portland at some point. I really want to check out how the Pods work. Los Angeles, obviously. Really I just want to have a job where I am paid to go to cities and eat at food trucks. If you know of anyone hiring for that position, I'm your guy.
Eric: Share a little bit about what is going on with the Central Pennsylvania food truck scene!
Jordan: Recently we founded The Central Pennsylvania Mobile Vendors Association, it was formed to support local mobile food vendors and aid in communication between them and local governments. Currently, there are some very restrictive rules governing food trucks in a lot of our cities that make it hard to operate. We believe that no one made these rules to try to restrict food trucks on purpose. It's just a case of misinformation about what food trucks and carts can do for a local culinary scene. At this point, it's been proven that food trucks mean a better restaurant scene and actually boost business in the areas in which they operate. We really want to make sure that the restaurants and local government are aware of this and include those facts when crafting legislation.
You can learn more about Baron Von Schwein and where to find them in Lancaster, Pennsylvania at http://www.foodtrucksin.com/baron-von-schwein. Learn more about the Central Pennsylvania Mobile Food Vendors Association here!