Some say the food truck trend has peaked and the market is in the process of weeding out the wannabe’s. That may be true in early adaptor markets like Los Angeles and New York, but San Diego always seems to run a little behind in our culinary trend adoption. Still, food trucks are nothing new to foodies in the area. When large restaurant groups like Jack-In-The Box have trucks, you know the trend has, depending on your perspective either lost its cool status, or reached the point where it’s a viable business model to the masses.
Passing trend or not, food trucks are fun and can add a unique element to an event or a nice surprise to a night out when you walk out of a bar to see a mobile restaurant parked out front at your service. I wanted to learn a little more about the business side of running a truck so I recently connected with Chef John Adams who recently launched Epic Eatz, the newest food truck on the San Diego scene. Chef Adams teamed up with Chip McCarty the Executive Chef at Black and Blue at Valley View Casino who he worked with as his Sous Chef. Their 50 years of combined culinary experience plus Adams extensive technology background and their strong mutual desire to take their food to the people via a truck put the wheels in motion.
Chef John Adams has strong local ties as his uncle owns Feliccia’s Italian Restaurant & Deli in Vista. This connection is key as Feliccia’s will function as the commissary for the Epic Eatz food truck which is essential to the success of a mobile operation.
LTP: With Epic Eatz coming in relatively late in the game, what is your angle, or differentiator?
Chef Adams: Epic Eatz differentiator is our culinary expertise .We are very diverse and will constantly change our cuisine according to the customer’s wants. We are also using the latest technology to enhance the customer’s experience. We strongly believe that the San Diego Market is just getting started compared to Los Angeles and New York.
LTP: One leg up I see that you have already is your relationship with Felicia’s Italian Deli and Restaurant in Vista. Tell me about that relationship and how it has already benefited Epic Eatz.
Adams: Having a relationship with a thriving restaurant is crucial. It makes our day-to-day operations much easier. We have a place to cook, store dry ingredients. We also have access to a large labor pool ensuring the truck will always be staffed properly. Having access to a restaurant allows us to do things differently. For example we bake all of our own bread.
LTP: Technology has played an integral role in the success of food trucks since Kogi got the whole scene going in Los Angeles in 2009 with their use of Twitter to alert followers of their daily locations. Given your tech background, is Epic Eatz doing anything unique in this area?
Adams: I have a technology background so that definitely helps, we want to take the technology to the next level. In addition to using Social Media we are developing a smart phone application that will allow our customers to see our daily menu and pinpoint our location using GPS technology. We are also installing a fully integrated Point of Sale system that would allow the customer to place the order from their smart phone and put in a time they want it ready. With this system I can also take all the orders outside the truck, using an iPad I can also process their payment. This technology is going to greatly improve the customer experience.
LTP: I know your menu will be changing which is a good thing, but tell me about three of your signature items that we can expect on a regular basis.
Adams: Three that you will see on a regular basis will be our fish taco; we are working with a local fisherman to get an “ocean to truck” experience. Our chips and salsa with tortillas that are made fresh daily. Our salsa is a roasted tomato salsa; we use a local grower for all the produce in the salsa and everything is organic and vine ripened. Finally, our San Diego Cheesesteak with grass fed Angus beef seasoned with our carne spice and an onion and red pepper ragu. We top it with melted jack cheese, tomatoes, and avocado served on a toasted telero roll.
Follow Epic Eatz progress and whereabouts at www.facebook.com/epiceatz