Read the full interview with the owner of Hoss’ Loaded Burgers, Dallas Shaw, below!
How did Hoss’ Loaded Burgers Get Started?
I was working in the corporate office with a big company in Nashville and I got tired of working for someone else. I got the drive to do something of my own. I was looking into what Nashville was missing and it was a juicy Lucy style, cheese stuffed burger that you find normally up in the Minnesota area or Minneapolis. So, I looked into some recipes and some offerings and found that nobody in town offered that. I started building a business plan and putting things together and from April of 2011 until August we went from concept to on the road.
What Drove You to Open a Food Truck Over a Brick-and-Mortar?
I chose to do a food truck over a brick-and-mortar simply because of financial reasons. It was about a tenth of the cost of opening a restaurant as well as, I really didn’t have a lot of general management experience of running a restaurant. I had worked in a restaurant and done kitchen work and all that but, the overarching aspects required to run a restaurant; hiring all those people and HR, I needed a little more experience with that. I also wanted to build a brand. So, once I moved into a brick-and-mortar space, customers would know who I was so I would have a better chance at succeeding. I also wanted to build a menu and test things on the truck in a smaller scale so when I moved into a restaurant, I’d have a restaurant with things I knew people would enjoy.
Why did you choose burgers?
I chose burgers over any other cuisine in the food truck world because I love burgers. Everybody, or almost everybody, loves a good burger. I knew that I would find a broad market in Nashville. There are multiple burger places in town but there were a lot less when I came out. So, there was a niche I could find with the stuffed burgers, as well as, being a mobile option, people didn’t have to come find me, I would find them. So, I figured burgers, if anything, most everybody loves, so go with something people would enjoy.
What’s your favorite thing on the menu?
My favorite thing actually goes back to the name of the truck, Hoss’ Loaded Burgers. My dad called me Hoss growing up. So, the burger that I enjoy the most is, “The Hoss.” It has barbeque, bacon, onion crispers, cilantro, and cheddar. So, I figured the burger I liked the most, I would name, “Hoss.” It’s always on the menu. As far as the specialty burgers that we have, we have one called, “The Red, White, and Blue.” It has blue cheese inside with a mild wing sauce and a ranch that I really enjoy. It comes around Independence Day in July.
How have you seen the Food Truck Industry Grow in Nashville? What are you excited about in the industry?
The Food Truck Industry has grown so much in Nashville. When I came out in 2011, I was about the 5th truck on the road and now there are over 100. Some have come and gone over the years, but as a whole, more and more people are getting excited about food trucks. In 2011, there weren’t many people in Nashville who understood what a Food Truck was. They were a little leery of eating off of one. They had the roach coach kind-of catering truck that would go from construction site to construction site. So, there was a lot to teach customers back them of, “Hey, we’re not just a greasy truck. We are offering gourmet quality food in a convenience to you. We come to the site, we come to an office building like this….”
So, it was a matter of educating customers. Now, everybody knows what food trucks are! They see us at festivals; we do Live on the Green. We’ll do the CMA Festival that’s in June. So, people are understanding that, “Hey, I don’t have to go sit down and waste an hour. I can go straight to a food truck and be on my way in 10-15 minutes.” So, I’m very excited about the food truck, to see where it goes, to see where the industry goes. There are all the time, new cuisines coming out. Some interesting things. There are a lot of barbeque trucks in town, that seems to be common cuisine out there. The interesting things for the food truck industry as a whole, are people who bring something new to the table. Ultimately, that’s what is going to make them successful. What can’t they get right now? You find that, like I found the juicy Lucy style burgers, that wasn’t available, and that’s really what made us really popular in town.
Can you tell us a little bit more about Street Food Month?
Street Food Month started, I believe in about 2012, Mayor Carl Dean at the time, he really enjoyed what we were bringing to Nashville, the sense of community and getting people outdoors to enjoy the beautiful weather that we have. Carl Dean really enjoyed that and he initiated or wrote a proclamation claiming that May is Nashville Street Food Month. In that month, we celebrate all things food trucks. We have plenty of events for people to come out to enjoy. Some trucks offer specials that month and really we just try to bring awareness to people who may not know about food trucks. To get them excited about it and find more year-long customers in that one month that we really focus on promoting food trucks as a whole.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
As more and more people move to Nashville, I know in the realty business, you’re looking for more people to come to Nashville, it’s the “it” city now. Just, I recommend to them, get out and find a food truck! Find a cuisine that you like and start there and keep going around town! There are lots of great options. And, if you want a good burger, come to our truck!