The world of a food truck is a crazy place. You often have to deal with the drunks on the streets and the not so 9-5 days.
Jay Halvorson, owner of the local food truck, Texas Q BBQ and Catering, explained his world of owning a food truck and how it comes
across as “easy,” but that is all an image.
Halvorson has been the owner of Texas Q BBQ for three years and has gone through his trial and errors, along with seeing new food trucks come and go. “Three years later, I’m still learning,” Halvorson said.
Why barbecue? While Halvorson is originally from Fargo, North Dakota, he moved to Houston, Texas for a period of time. “When I moved to Texas, I fell in love with barbecue,” Halvorson explained. “Our great American food starts with barbecue,” Halvorson believes.
“There’s a lot of craft it takes in barbecue — it takes time and patience and know how,” Halvorson shared. He then explained that their style is more Eastern Texas because they use sauce instead of dry rub.
Now, why a food truck? It’s simple.
“The best food definitely comes from a food truck — you don’t have a hundred people doing it different,” Halvorson said. In a restaurant there are multiple different cooks, so nothing is ever quite the exact same as the last. With a food truck most of the time, it is the owner doing, essentially, everything. “Majority of the times operators who are in them (the food truck) know unless they can trust someone else to do what they do and duplicate the system then its only going to be just one,” Halvorson said.
Halvorson explained that food trucks have taken off this year. He has been watching people come with their food trucks and see what they do.
He began to hate corporate places, so this is what Halvorson wanted. He did not want another boss; instead, he wanted to be the boss.
“It’s not always that easy, just because you can cook doesn’t mean you should open a food truck,” Halvorson said. Many up-and-coming food trucks show up with a logo that does not match their menu or have no name to their food established and think it is easy enough to get business that way. He explained that it is all strategic and that you need to plan when starting a food truck.
The experience of a food truck is by far the most interesting part. “It’s really kind of a circus, sometimes you’re just a fly on the wall,” Halvorson explained, while talking about the stories he has experienced firsthand.
Most stories revolve around drunk people because they want a fast and easy downtown treat when going from bar to bar. “People have gotten drunk and gone in my trailer and stolen my buns before, like the whole thing!’ Halvorson exclaimed.
Another time, after leaving for one minute, he came back to find a man sitting in his truck eating his food. Other times he has had people jump in and out of his food truck to steal hot dogs off the grill.
“Plenty of times people have climbed on my stuff,” Halvorson explained. “Plenty of times people have thrown punches through the window; I mean people get mad.”
He has had to call the bouncer over to kick people out because they were being too aggressive, whether it was them throwing their money at him and yelling or throwing punches through the windows.
“I’ve had people yell at me — a lot of people, drunk, want to talk to the owner,” Halvorson said laughing. He then explained that he lies and says the owner is in another state or not there and continues to make up stories. Halvorson knows they only want to yell because they are drunk, not realizing what they are saying. He wants to hear feedback from people, but it doesn’t help when drunk people are just there to be angry.
“I’ve seen a girl come through my door one day — passed out in my food truck. She’s sitting there talking to me and all of the sudden — falls on the floor in my food truck passed out,” Halvorson shared.
Is a food truck crazier than a restaurant? “Yes, because there’s a lot of things that can be done and said outside of walls of a restaurant that can’t be done on inside the walls of a restaurant,” Halvorson explained.
While he isn’t running the food truck, Halvorson does catering which is not as crazy, but still hectic. With catering you have to go-go-go, and, when
you have not slept in days, things can go wrong. He explained how sometimes he forgets charcoal or barbecue, the essentials of his business all because he was too busy going everywhere. Another time he dropped a whole pan of beans. Luckily, he had wrapped it in three layers of aluminum foil, keeping it from spilling everywhere. This same day his silent partner was helping and dropped the chicken, but saved it by it landing on another pan.
Halvorson takes pride in his work saying “nobody else can take credit for what I do.” He is, essentially, the only employee because he is the only one knows how to exactly do everything.
When talking about Food Truck owners compared to a restaurant company, Halvorson believes they need to work together so people do not leave the industry and cause the food trucks to die out. “I do think of it as a community,” Halvorson explained. “We need to stop thinking about ‘I’ and start thinking about ‘we’ because if we can’t keep our concept going then people are just going to keep dropping out,” Halvorson cautioned.
He believes that the industry is going backwards, in that, restaurants are going backwards and now downsizing to a food truck. “I feel like I am in a niche market that is trending, but I’m also at the bottom floor of it,” Halvorson said. “So it’s interesting to see the next guys to come up.”
Halvorson wants the public to see his day-to-day life so they understand it is not how it seems, like that sometimes he does not sleep. He also explained how he had not had a day off for five months until a week ago.
“I want people to see me,” Halvorson said. “I want to tell the story, so people understand when they look through my eyes that it’s not just what they think.”
Texas BBQ can typically be found at 409 N Broadway, Fargo, North Dakota with more information available online at www.texasq.net.