We're back with a food truck story!
Welcome to the APPP Blog! We are so excited to have Jake Rosser interning with us this summer! You can be sure to find his monthly blog entries covering some of our favorite local entrepreneurs and business in Abilene. We love getting to take you behind the scenes as we learn about their stories! We've been excited to talk with owners of one of your favorite Abilene food trucks, Rock'n Roller'z! Enjoy getting to know the creators and chefs that run the infamous award winning food truck with Jake Rosser's behind the scene interview and photography that captures their southern rockabilly food truck vibes!
Who are the people behind Rock'n Rollerz?
Me and Armando Asencio, we have been friends since were kids and we have worked together at a restaurant in Buffalo Gap for about eight years, Duchlander's Catfish. We always wanted to open a restaurant and you know, it takes a lot of money, so we planned and went with the food truck. The whole idea behind it is, we're big music fans and we love food, so we tried to incorporate those two into the theme for our truck. Me and Mando and of course all of our family and friends had a bunch to do with it so I would say it's a big family business.
What made you want to start a food truck?
Yeah, just like the same thing. We've always worked in the food industry. I graduated from Mcmurry and started teaching high school social studies and that lasted about three weeks, so I called Mando and we just went with it.
We did a lot of research before we got started and with food trucks, especially specialty or what we kinda call like "gourmet street trucks," you kinda want to have your niche. And of course, you don't get any more "Americana" than hamburgers. Because America, all of it's cuisine, is just really from all around the world. You know like spaghetti and pizza...and hamburgers and hotdogs are those two things that Americans do on the weekends. So we wanted to take the burger, and burgers are so mega right now...super, super in. There was a study done in 2014, I think, that burger joints had seen an increase in sales fifty percent over the last six years and it's only getting better. So we love hamburgers and wanted to do something that was fresh and that was cooked to order. Like we love to do tacos and all that stuff, everybody's food is really great. And with that you could cook the meat ahead of time and such. With burgers there's a million things you can add to make a difference. There's just so much you could do with it.
What did it take to get this business up and running?
Well we, of course, built a business plan and went to about ten, fifteen banks and looked for investors and realized real quick that we're younger so without a lot of collateral or credit there really weren't a lot of options so we pretty much scrapped metal, took the last of our paychecks and bummed up all the money we could to get the trailer, and it kinda went from there. But yeah, it literally took blood, sweat, and tears just to get it goin. So we've just been really fortunate with the success we've had. If it hadn't had gone over this well, there's no telling where we'd be right now.
Tell us about your truck wrap. What was that like getting the finished artwork up?
Well, it shouldn't usually be as hard, but we had a rough time. The design company we used kinda dropped the ball and we waited a little while. I would say it was stressful, but we had a good artist, so that helped out. It was just getting the wrap installed that kinda took some time. Besides that, it's really fun to take a blank page and get to choose what you get to do with it. It was a completely white truck and we just started working with the artist on what we wanted to do.
I see Han Solo there on the truck too!
Yeah, we really love Star Wars and we try to add all of our flare there too. That's kind of cultural, but not always super popular like if we had Emmit Smith on the back or Troy Aikemen. But especially with the kiddos and the Star Wars movies making a comeback it's been really cool.
Yeah! I also heard R2-D2 at one point, did you intentionally incorporate that in the truck?
No, that is actually my cell phone every time I get a text you hear him!
Tell us about your rockabilly food truck name.
You know, with the food trucks, it's all about your play on words big time. You can always have just a normal name, and we could've been like John's burger truck or Joe's burgers, but we were kind of looking for a different name because we're not stopping here. We've got big dreams. This is gonna be a brick and mortar or a franchise, an empire or whatever you want to call it, so we were looking for a name that later could work with a restaurant. It could work with anything. "Rockn Rollerz Bar and Grill," "Rockn Rollerz Rollin' Grill." So we were looking and played on the word cause it rolls like a food truck and the rockn for, you know, the rock and roll. The word kind of embodies more than just the music. People use it all the time...the cliche "Let's go rock and roll this!" It kind of means to get it going. So we were trying to play on the food and then play on our name, the music, and all that. We probably had like a hundred different names till we landed on it.
How long have y'all been in business?
Actually, last weekit was a year and six monhs! (From the time of the interview.) That's always pivotal for a new business. If you can make that two year mark, which we'll do with a stride, but yeah. We've been blessed because a year and a half in you're gonna get a new food truck on the scene and everybody goes to them, but if you don't keep up the good quality food and all that stuff it goes real quick and then you're there twiddling your thumbs. So like I was saying earlier, we buy the freshest ingredients. Stuff is never frozen, and we go grocery shopping every single day.
APPP booked you guys at their Spring 2015 People Party Craft Fair about a year ago when you guys were first getting started. What has it been like working with A People Party Productions?
Jennifer and Forrest are awesome. For one, they have real good business ethic. They go out and talk to people. They don't jump the gun. They're probably one of the only people that could've pulled this off and done it the way it is. They care about the looks, the theme, the feel, and the atmosphere. They are awesome people and we love doing any kind of event with them. And that craft fair is really what started it. We love it.
They've recently launched The Food Park in Downtown Abilene. What has that been like? How has a centralized location like The Food Park worked out for you?
Well what we have noticed when you're doing this is that the more food trucks the better. When you are out there by yourself, there's a lot of risks. Either you have nobody show up or having a whole bunch of people show up and you're the only food truck there. So at a food park like this with the way they did it, we are selling out every day. It's crazy busy every time. I think they did a great job and did it perfect the way it is.
Within your first year of business you guys have won several awards for your famous burgers. What were those awards? How do you feel about holding all those great titles?
Well...we always said once you're on top, you got nothing to gain, but everything to lose, but I mean, we like it and if we don't win anything in the competitions we are alright with it. A year ago winning this trophy put us on TV and in the paper and we really got our name out there. It probably jumped stared us to where we are now. The awards are pivotal and people that hold them are usually the chamber of commerce people of that town, and they are getting better and better each year.
You have established a very strong following in Abilene. Tell us how it feels to have come this far from day one.
It's been a whirlwind to me honestly. When we won this trophy I was like this is what it feels like when an actor wins an oscar or something. You know what I mean? I am still in shock. It's been awesome.
Tell us about your menu and the passion behind the burgers.
We are always trying to add things to the menu to get people's attention. Like the Poppin' Johnny! We weren't gonna have one burger all the time, but we found out real fast you gotta have an original. The expectations of our menu were a lot different before we started and then after a year we got our permanent menu.
We know that many food trucks deal with long lines and long waits...what can you say about this? You guys are kinda like local celebrities in the food scene.
Well I think the lines have to do a lot with what the food truck serves, also your reputation. We cook our burgers fresh to order, so when we get a big line and a lot of people, they can take some time...but I think some people will find out we will pack that truck full with as much meat as we can up to health code and hope for the best because this food truck park has us selling out every single time. We are gonna be getting a new fridge here real soon that will hold more and a bigger cook line and all that stuff so it's getting there to where we will be able to serve to more. But people will learn that what we have is fresh right as they order.
Is there anything else you want to share with your fans?
Just keep checking back. We'll always have new stuff and we'll keep trying to bring trophies back to Abilene. Hopefully in June will be coming back with basically a big wrestling belt from the grand championships. We hope for the best. Just keep supporting us. We love the people that come. We call them our burger lovers..."burger lovin' rockstars."