Kristofir Rattray understands the hard work and demands that come with growing a business. His family’s business 50 Pesos opened over 15 years ago bringing a variety of delicious Latin American inspired dishes to the Burlington area. 50 Pesos has since expanded to the fast growing food truck industry. Kristofir will share his experiences and the challenges he has faced as a new instructor for the Mobile Food Services Certificate program at Mohawk College this January. With these courses being offered part-time through Continuing Education it provides entrepreneurs the chance to learn about the industry without sacrificing their day job. If you’re looking to improve, expand, or create a new mobile food truck business you will want to pay attention to the following tips Kristofir offers below.
Q+A with Kristofir Rattray
Q: Tell us a bit about 50 Pesos and how you decided to run a food truck business?
A: We have been in business since 1999 selling our fresh and frozen products locally to many different farmers markets and specialty grocery stores. We had the opportunity to be featured on the Food Network and won our own fully equipped food truck in our episode of Food Truck Face Off. At the end of the year we decided to move forward adding the food truck to our existing business. We saw the niche for our food in this new industry and we have been fortunate thus far.
Q: As the food truck business continues to grow and competition increases how do new food truck businesses set themselves apart?
A: We feel, for the most part, we have set ourselves apart from the rest. You can’t be afraid to be different. You have to find your niche and continue to bring new ideas to your business. You need to always listen to your customers. One thing we always ask is to please tell us if you enjoyed or disliked the food. We always want to know how we may improve or change.
Q: What are the top food truck trends you have noticed over the past few years?
A: We see people bringing higher quality food out of food trucks as opposed to your standard "fry & toss out the window" type truck. We also see food trucks focusing on certain markets such as festivals of 10k plus people, catering only, larger geographical coverage, local events within 30 kms, and high end specialty festivals.
Q: Like most trends, food trends are constantly changing. How does this affect the food truck business?
A: The trends come and go with any business. Bylaws change, rules change, health regulations, licensing, increased costs, the list goes on and we have to be ready to adapt. If you are not ready for the changes and you're not ready to hustle you will drown. This business is not for everyone. I have been fortunate with an amazing team to support our business.
Q: What is one piece of advice you would give an entrepreneur looking to create a food truck menu?
A: Create a menu that will make people smile, satisfied and willing to share with family and friends. Be willing to hear and actively seek feedback. Also, have faith in your menu that it is awesome! If you get knocked down get back up.
Q: What is one thing you wish you knew about the food truck industry before you opened 50 Pesos?
A: Bylaws, as they vary drastically from region to region.
Hungry for More?
Kristofir will be teaching Food Sourcing and Procurement at Mohawk College. This course will help students understand modern food systems, urban agriculture and co-operatives. Community partnership opportunities will be identified and students will examine vendor management principles. CBC recently covered Kristofir’s teaching assignment at Mohawk and the expanding food truck industry in their article How to Run a Food Truck 101, now at Mohawk College.
If interested in learning more from Kristofir register today at Mohawk College for his course Food Sourcing & Procurement running Tuesday evenings from January 17-April 4, 2017.