The entrepreneur bases his expansion on the restaurant / food trailer synergy

Expanding his New York-based restaurant operation to Georgia has allowed Willie Degel to launch a food trailer, which he hopes will allow him to leverage his strengths and provide a model for expansion. later in other states.

Uncle Jack’s Meathouse’s kitchen will prepare food for the “Jack’s Shack” food trailer.

Editor’s Note: This is the second part of a two-part series on Jack’s Shack.

For Willie Degel, longtime New York restaurateur and TV personality, releasing a food trailer has been a dream to come.

As described in Part 1 of this two-part series, the passionate food entrepreneur couldn’t resist the urge to step into the dynamic mobile food space as he watched it evolve over the years. years towards its current reputation for culinary excellence.

But being in the Big Apple, with its high food truck fees and onerous parking restrictions, Degel had to bide his time.

The food trailer will announce its availability for catering events.

A fortuitous extension

It wasn’t until he expanded his restaurant empire in New York City – which includes Uncle Jack’s Steakhouses, Uncle Jack’s Meat House, and Jack’s Shack Organic Eatery – in Georgia that circumstances set in motion for a mobile restaurant.

“You have to do your homework, you have to educate your people, you have to do research, you have to contact your counties and make sure that when you build it, you do it according to spec and code and you build it correctly”, a- he declared.

Degel plans to showcase its first “Jack’s Shack” food trailer at its soon-to-open Peachtree Corners restaurant, its second operation in Georgia. His sous chef and an assistant from his Duluth Uncle Jack’s Meat House, will operate the trailer part-time. He plans to support the trailer with social media and create an annual calendar of events.

Degel believes Georgia is more welcoming to mobile kitchens than New York City.

“Every small town has food truck nights and invites everyone to come and experience food trucks,” he said. “It’s a way to bring people together, to get out of the house, to meet, to greet and to socialize.”

The trailer takes shape

To make his vision a reality, he bought a used 12-by-7-foot vehiclebarbecue food trailer for about $ 22,000 from an owner who operated multiple food trailers. It replaced the appliances, which now include deep fryers, griddle, grill, freezer and prep station, all of which cost nearly $ 7,000 more.

The menu will include seven items, “quick to grab, easy to cook, prepare and move for the masses,” which will vary depending on the event. These will include his signature cheeseburger, bacon cheeseburger, premium steak sandwich, crispy chicken sandwich, pulled pork and fries.

“You can’t put away too many items because it’s a small space and you have to be prepared and organized,” he said.

Leverage synergies

Like other restaurateurs who have added mobile operations, Degel wants to take advantage of the synergies between the brick-and-mortar operation and the mobile kitchen: the restaurant will prepare food for the trailer, allowing it to make more use of its existing assets. .

The trailer will also allow him to take advantage of his marketing and IT departments, which includes a full-time graphics person, a full-time IT person, and two full-time marketing / social media people.

The trailer will accept cash, but Degel predicts that around 80% of sales will be paid with credit cards. At the time of this report, he was not sure which outlet he would use on the trailer. He wants to ensure that the point of sale of the trailer integrates with his existing management software. He plans to move to a cloud-based point of sale for his restaurants.

The trailer will have its own social media platform separate from the restaurants.

A model for future growth

Operation Peachtree Corners will serve as a model for Degel’s future growth plans.

He also plans to have a trailer at his restaurant in Duluth, GA, and he plans to eventually expand to the Carolinas and Florida using the same business model.

The biggest challenge Degel faces is everyone in the restaurant business: finding the right people. He hopes to expand his current squad from 225 to 350.

“You have to adapt. Sometimes you have winners, sometimes you have failures, but you can’t stop,” he said.

Photos courtesy of Willie Degel.

About Vivian J. Smith

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