November 6, 2011

Food Interview #9: Putting the Stoves on the Road

By now, pretty much everyone’s heard of the Kogi truck and its revolutionary spark to the food truck craze. But how many people know the back story? Where did Kogi get its truck? Where did all the trucks get their trucks? As you may have noticed, food trucks aren’t designed the same way regular trucks are. Food trucks have a side board opening. They have refrigerators, grills, and an awning. They also have something very important, Food! So where do you get one? Call on Roadstoves to set you straight.

I phoned up Josh Hiller, co-owner of Roadstoves, to get the truth behind the food truck craze and to find out if the bubble really is about to burst. He has put trucks such as Kogi, Nom Nom, the Grilled Cheese Truck, and South Philly on the road to success.

Josh has seen his fair share of food truck ideas and he says most of them are awful but there is the occasional one that sparks an interest, which he is more than happy to help put through the process of trucking it. “We look for young, hard-working, entrepreneurs that can bring something new and fun to the market place. Not everyone has that same creativity and business sense. Some people are in it to make a quick buck, but that’s not our MO.”

Josh got into the food truck business almost by accident. He was a lawyer who wanted to help a close friend start his own food truck. Now he runs a company that not only sells and rents out the trucks, Roadstoves offers services ranging from permit acquisition, maintenance, and storage, to truck design, marketing tactics, and business networking. The costs of these trucks varies based on the different fees involved and the individual desires of the entrepreneur but Josh says it’s about $3000 a month to rent one out. Josh and his team have set up the ultimate food truck success machine and all they ask for in return is a great idea.

Speaking in an assertive, don’t-waste-my-time, no bull manner, Josh explained that in order to be in the food truck game, you must have passion. Passion that shines through in your day to day commitment and your respect of the food truck culture, not just a passion for food.

“It takes hard work, blood, sweat, and tears. You can’t just get a truck and get people to run it for you. It takes that work ethic. And it takes that creativity and a good cook. I saw Sizzler launch a food truck and I was like, ‘What are you doing?’ It has to be something you can’t get anywhere else.”

As far as being part of this viral epidemic that threatens to implode from the pressure of a rapidly growing competitive market, Josh notes that “helping young entrepreneurs help build their business” is one of the best parts of being in this scene. He can see the power of a good idea and knows that the customer ultimately chooses who stays and who goes. “Customers figure it out pretty quickly. If they come back, they come back, if they don’t, they don’t. It sorts itself out.”

Personally, Josh doesn’t eat at the trucks that much anymore. “I’m a fan of elements of [the scene]. I ate at trucks a lot more at the beginning and I think the Kogi truck is still one of the best ones out there.”

Like it or not, these food trucks are on a roll and Roadstoves is the first stop on their road to serving the dispersed citizens of LA unique gourmet food from the comfort of their own neighborhood. Fortunately for us, Josh is at the wheel in deciding whose food is worth waiting for in those never-ending First Friday’s lines.

Thinking of starting your own food truck? Visit Roadstoves at

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