Have you ever wondered how both myself and Noah, got into the Food Truck business? Entrepreneurship was not something that we had originally planned for ourselves, but things just took off shortly after we met!
Our story starts in Columbus, OH at a little Irish Pub, known as Dempsey’s Food & Spirits (Check them out on Proclamation & St. Patrick’s Day. You won’t find green beer, but you will find some authentic cuisine and music). Noah was the Executive Chef at Dempsey’s; his first Executive Chef position! About a month after the restaurant opened, I came into Dempsey’s for an interview as a Bartender. I had heard about the position through a previous co-worker and decided to give it a try; I walked away from this interview, with the job.
The position of Bartender quickly turned into FOH management; I was winging it and giving it my best shot! Yes, I had bartended and served for many years prior, but managing a staff was new for me! See, I graduated with a Bachelors in Elementary Education but the Service Industry took over soon after. Life led me to Columbus with one of my best friends, and the Industry just continued to work its way into my life. The days at Dempsey’s became longer and longer and the responsibilities increased. I soon found myself working all day, every day, having to leave my previous position behind! Most every night at close, Chef Noah was there to help me lock up. After the days came to an end, we would move to the local watering hole to have a drink and discuss the days struggles, achievements, past life, families and future goals. Days turned to weeks and weeks to months. Three months after I started at Dempsey’s we were becoming more than friends and conversations that once consisted of “me” turned to “we.”
As discussions about the future took place, Noah brought the idea of a food truck to the table. Graduating from the Culinary Program of Hocking College, Chef Noah, knew that food was his calling. His resume consisted of many restaurants and even the corporate world, working as a sous chef for Limited Brands. Once he nailed down the position of Executive Chef of Dempsey’s, he knew from then on that he would always run his own kitchen. We worked side by side for over a year and during our down time, we discussed the style of food and ideas for the truck. I completed the business plan, laying out all margins, costs, projections, etc. This took FOREVER!! Many times, I was ready to throw in the hat, but the excitement between Noah and seeing our ideas come to life, kept me writing!
While the ideas were organized, Chef Noah was presented with the opportunity to run a catering kitchen, known as the Makoy Center. At first, he was very hesitant to tell me; we had ran this restaurant together for a year and we where finally starting to see some return on our work and ideas. He was afraid I would feel as though he was abandoning me, but when it was brought up, I could not have been more happy for him! This position included a pay increase, more staff and a bit less stress. While yes, I admit I was sad, I knew it was best for Noah! Who knows, if he hadn’t taken the opportunity, we may not be where we are today! WE WORK TOGETHER NONSTOP!
The Food Truck continued to be in the back of our minds. Our relationship was growing and we were getting closer to securing financing for this dream! After review of the, in depth, business plan, a very close friend decided he would take a chance on us. An agreement had been made, for payback on a personal loan! Oh Shit; this was really happening! After looking at many box trucks, Noah finally decided on a 1996 Chevy Mac Tool Truck. When I saw the truck, I was hardly amused. It was very tough to envision a kitchen in place of the carpet covered work benches that were occupying the space in the back of the truck. Gross! All Noah’s off time was now being dedicated to the build out of this truck. With the help of his father, the truck was ready to make its debut six months later.
On May, 12th, 2014, the Smok’N Cantina opened its window to friends and patrons of a local small business organization, known as the Food Fort of Columbus! This was a shitshow; very comical as we now look back on it. The generator didn’t work, the POS system was failing, and I was running all over the place, consistently in Noah’s way. It was a hostile environment, but we got through it together. A lot of lists of TO DO’s and procedures followed this opening!
A little over a month later, Noah got down on one knee and decided to make me his wife. I was shocked, asking him, “Are you sure?” We all know how this story goes….of course I said yes! (Another blog on this engagement to come!) A year of planning, food trucking and full time work at other jobs followed. On May 15th, 2015 we were married here in Louisville. We decided shortly after that we would leave our job security in Columbus (we miss our family and friends in CBUS daily) and move our life and business here, my hometown. We were ready to take a chance on our dream. Ever since we have been living for ourselves in the Ville. Louisville feels like home and we know, that while there are constant struggles, we are right where we need to be.
Whoa! What a trip down memory lane!
Pictured: Myself & Noah on our first getaway to Putt-N-Bay, OH. Noah picked me up in a Mazda Miata (he was working hard to impress me) and took me to the Island, where I threw him off a Jet Ski and he forgot to wear sunscreen.