Many food-truck operators today are interested in opening up their own brick-and-mortar units, and there is reason to believe translating a mobile unit into a fixed one can lead to long-term success.
Just ask David Boyd. The founder of Memphis, Tennessee–based D’bo’s Wings n’ More launched D’bo’s out of a truck in 1990, and has since grown the company to five units.
“What we were doing back then, it was actually a concession trailer, just like at the fairs,” he says. “We opened up one of those units, long before the days of the food trucks themselves. We were kind of ahead of the curve.”
Boyd says he initially opened with a truck because he couldn’t secure any lending from banks, despite his good credit and zero debt.
“They said, ‘No, we can’t lend you money for this, there’s no way you can make a living selling chicken wings,’” he says, noting that Memphis did not have any wing-based restaurants at the time.
Boyd says he worked out of the truck for two and a half years before he could afford to open up the first D’bo’s storefront. He says he would take the trailer to the fair, but in general kept it in one Memphis location for most of those first couple of years.
“Initially in the trailer, we had a three-item concept,” he says. “We did wings, fries, and sodas. That was it. Once we moved into the storefront, we expanded to burgers and tenders and things of that nature.”
D’bo’s now has four company-owned units Memphis, as well as one franchise unit in Arkansas. Each of the company-owned stores has opened with existing cash flow, Boyd says.
The original trailer is still around, Boyd says, though he only uses it four times a year, despite the growing the popularity of food trucks. The focus now, he says, is on expanding the company through brick-and-mortar locations.
“Our future is definitely in franchising and growing the concept in the Southeast region,” he says, noting that he would like to grow primarily in Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Arkansas. “But I’m a slow walker.”
By Sam Oches