A new company helmed by sons of prominent foodservice leaders plans to establish a national food-truck brand that it hopes to grow to hundreds of units across the country.
Dallas-based Two Trucks LLC will launch its food-truck brand, The Butcher’s Son, in October with two Dallas trucks. Those trucks will be followed by five trucks in February, 10 trucks in May, and, the company hopes, a total of 200 trucks by 2014.
Two Trucks is led by CEO Jonathan Wagner, son of Johnsonville Sausage founder Ralph Stayer, and Dain Pool, son of Pool’s Restaurant Group CEO Dan Pool.
Dain Pool says he and Wagner met through a mutual friend, when Johnsonville was interested in getting involved with the food-truck industry.
“I was scared at first, because I know the food-truck culture is, I don’t want to say anti-corporate, but it’s along those lines,” Pool says, noting that major food corporations have launched promotional trucks that fizzled. “We don’t want the food-truck community to go, ‘Oh my gosh, a corporate truck,’ because we’re really not.”
Instead of rolling out a one-off promotional truck, Pool—who has franchised food trucks with Pool’s Restaurant Group brands Gandolfo’s and Petro’s—helped Wagner construct a food-truck brand that was a separate entity of Johnsonville and Pool’s.
The business partners hope The Butcher’s Son can be the first major national food-truck brand.
“We’re the first ones to dive in,” Pool says. “Of course, there are trucks right now that have maybe three or four out there, or one or two, but we’re bringing a major player, Johnsonville, and of course [Pool’s Restaurant Group], as partners to bring to the table.”
Pool compares the food-truck trend to the early years of the quick-service industry, saying that the trend is growing fast but shows no signs of slowing down.
Still, with so much attention on the mobile food industry now, he says the time is right to launch a brand like The Butcher’s Son.
“That’s why we gave ourselves a three-year window,” Pool says. “We realized we had a three-year window to jump on this market, because if we put that out any longer, maybe five years, we may miss the chance to be on top.”
Wagner and Pool believe the core food-truck consumer is the 20–35 demographic, and that office buildings are a prime location for serving that demographic.
“They would rather pay the $8 compared with a $4 meal at McDonald’s, or $8 instead of going to a restaurant at lunch and getting the same sub every day for lunch,” Wagner says.
Though The Butcher’s Son is debuting in Texas and will likely build out the markets there before crossing the Lone Star State border— “The economic climate does play a major role in the markets that we’re going to choose,” Pool says—Two Trucks plans to eventually spread across the country.
Wagner says there is a big opportunity in smaller markets across the country, where the food-truck trend has yet to become too saturated. “You may not see as much resistance in these smaller areas,” he says.
The Butcher’s Son will feature mostly Johnsonville products, like sausages and brats, but will serve a range of foods, including breakfast and dessert items. Pool says the Johnsonville relationship gives the truck an advantage of serving high-quality foods at more affordable prices.
The menu, Pool says, will also play a major role in the social media marketing efforts of The Butcher’s Son.
“We’re announcing two menu items every Monday and Friday [on Facebook and Twitter] until we open, to keep people’s interests up, and it’s worked very well so far,” he says. Each Butcher’s Son truck that rolls out will also run a promotion on social media that lets customers choose the final two menu items.
While The Butcher’s Son will be the first brand to roll out for Two Trucks, Pool and Wagner say the company will eventually introduce additional truck brands, like a burrito, Asian, or dessert truck.
And though Pool does have experience franchising trucks, Two Trucks does not plan to franchise The Butcher’s Son—at least not yet.
“Once we have those two [trucks] established, once we have the other trucks opening in February up and running, then we’ll have an infrastructure to our company where there will be people in place from our chefs to our truck managers to marketing to everything that comes with a business,” Wagner says. “Our goal is to establish that infrastructure as quickly as possible, but at the same time make sure that it’s set up right.”
Wagner and Pool will both be speaking on a panel at QSR’s Dine America conference, October 9-11 in Atlanta. The panel, “The Young Guns,” will discuss second-generation restaurant operators and how franchisors can appeal to the younger generation of franchisees.
By Sam Oches