Lots of people complain about servers, cooks, etc. Sometimes its warranted and other times it’s not. I’ve always tried to tell people that it’s hard to really get a grasp on what people in the restaurant industry are going through until you’ve been there. Everybody should really spend at least one day as a server to see what its like. I’ve worked as a server and even spent some time in the kitchen in the past. It was really eye-opening and ever since then it’s given me a great sense of appreciation for what servers do. It’s not as simple as bringing your food out and refilling drinks as one may think.
That got me to thinking about my experiences with food trucks. Do I really understand all the struggles food truck owners deal with? Is the criticism I sometimes give warranted? Since I always strive to find answers for my curiosity, I was set out to see if any food truck would let me work with them for a dinner shift for a few hours. I wanted to see first hand what it was like to stand on the other side of the counter. Fortunately there was one owner who was crazy enough to allow me to tag along for a night. Adam Bussey, the owner of Hot-2-Trot Gourmet Dogs, accepted my offer.
We set up at the College Hill Elementary for their Boogie on the Blacktop family fun night. Families came from 5-7:30 to enjoy an evening of dancing, music, games and food. Hot-2-Trot and another food truck were supposed to be on hand that evening but the other truck was unable to make it.
Before the event started, we met up early to set up. To be honest, Adam Bussey did most of the setting up. I didn’t want to get in the way. So I spent a good 5-10 minutes trying to figure out some folding table that I swear was idiot proof. It was as if I signed up for Survivor and didn’t know how to swim. Once the table situation was figured out, we talked about how every time he showed up for events it was just him running it. One person would do the set up, cooking, taking orders, tear down, etc. Many other trucks are the same way. It’s usually a 1-2 person operation. In some cases you may see multiple people and it many of those cases its all within the family.
Once the event started, Adam did all the cooking and getting the food prepared for customers. I stuck to taking orders, getting people drinks, processing payments, refilling the chips and thanking customers. I do have my food handlers card from my time volunteering at the Lord’s Diner but had I switched spots with Adam, it would NOT have been a pleasant experience for the customers.
Then all of a sudden things started to really pick back up. We had a constant flow of customers for a good solid two hours. There wasn’t one single opportunity for a break.
Then it started to rain a little but people were still waiting in lines for their hot dogs. Over the course of over two hours, we sold around 150 hot dogs and hot links to everybody. Time went by super fast and everything went by smoothly even with me learning everything on the curve.
While talking with Adam, he told me how much harder it is as a one man operation. He would have to prepare the hot dogs, take off his gloves, handle the cash, then put gloves back on and repeat process. It just slows everything down. Imagine a 1-2 person operation cooking more elaborate meals within the truck especially in the space inside said truck.
I hope I didn’t upset a single customer. There were times I was adding the hot dog prices in my head along with their drinks and the chips. I refused to look like a five-year old and use my fingers so I was doing all the math in my head. I could only imagine what customers were thinking as I was mentally doing the math. Fortunately I didn’t over or undercharge a single customer. My mother would have been so proud of my math skills.
Some things did catch my attention though. I was shocked to see some people cut in line. Then there were some people who didn’t have enough money or were a dollar or two short or wanted something free. Adam handled everything with complete professionalism as I stood there still trying to figure out that folding table from two hours ago.
Overall it was a great time and something completely new to me. It was fun interacting with customers and chatting them up. There’s a similarity to the restaurant industry but in the case of a food truck, you’re literally doing everything and it’s more fast paced as people are right there in front of you watching your every move. Of course I didn’t leave without eating one of his trademark gourmet dogs.
So that was my night as food truck employee. I want to thank Adam Bussey with Hot-2-Trot Gourmet Dogs for allowing me to join him for a night. I had so much fun doing something different that my mind is already spinning on what I should do next for a night? Work an escape room perhaps?
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