Food Service & Agriculture, Retail, and Small Business & Startups

Barbecue joint hits the open road this summer

Two Scotts is ready with a food truck and catering schedule.

May 6, 2016
| By Pat Evans |
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Two Scotts
The food truck will be on somewhat of a set schedule this summer with stops planned along the lakeshore and at the Fulton Street Farmers Market. Photo by Pat Evans

(As seen on WZZM TV 13) The two Scotts at Two Scotts Barbecue have rewarded themselves for saving money.

Scott Hartmann and Scott Luecht put aside the money they saved by doing much of the demolition and construction early in 2015 for their restaurant at 536 Leonard St. NW.

This winter, the pair discussed the next big move for the west-side barbecue joint. They decided on a food truck, a trend they believe is on the verge of exploding in Grand Rapids, Hartmann said.

While there are several food trucks, such as A Moveable Feast, Patty Matters and What the Truck, it’s still a nascent industry in Grand Rapids, partly due to city regulations. Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said one of her goals as mayor will be to help ease the city’s restrictive ordinances on food trucks.

“We thought it’d be the next big thing and we wanted to be a bit ahead of it,” Hartmann said.

The vehicle also will serve as a mobile marketing tool for the restaurant, which operates out of an old root beer stand on the corner of Quarry Avenue and Leonard Street NW, near the Mitten Brewing Co. and Long Road Distillers.

“It’s a great way of getting our name, brand and logo all around town on wheels,” he said. “And that looked like a lot of fun.”

Hartmann didn’t disclose the price of the vehicle they have purchased but said it was substantial, especially when compared to the cost of the restaurant. He also said it might seem like Two Scotts did the opposite of what many restaurants do. Often, food trucks are the first step in entering the food-service business, followed by opening a restaurant.

“We could have done it that way, but there are a lot of logistics behind a food truck that make it very difficult,” Hartmann said, adding food trucks almost always need a home base at which to do the actual cooking.

All of Two Scotts’ meats will still be smoked at the Leonard Street location, properly cooled and then reheated aboard the truck. The food-truck menu will change regularly and won’t be nearly as extensive as the restaurant’s menu. It will include breakfast items for when it’s open during the mornings such as at farmers markets.

The big, red truck adorned with the Two Scotts’ name will have somewhat of a set schedule this summer, making its rounds at regular stops throughout the warm weather months. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, for example, the truck will be parked at Fulton Street Farmers Market.

The schedule might change next summer, but for now, it will help the company get a feel for the big rig. Two Scotts also has a full slate of special events this summer, with every Saturday until September booked with catering events, some of which will employ the truck.

“We’re just sticking to a schedule so we can have it operating efficiently,” Hartmann said. “The long-term goal is to have it rolling up at weddings, graduation parties and corporate events.”

Other days of the week it’ll be at area beverage establishments such as Gravel Bottom Brewery and Supply, Grey Skies Distillery, Trail Point Brewing Co. and Rail Town Brewing Co.

“A lot of those types of places don’t have kitchens, so it’s a good fit for food trucks,” he said, adding Two Scotts will mostly target facilities in the suburbs to avoid the $1,900 in permits businesses currently have to pay for food trucks in Grand Rapids.

The truck will only be active in the summer months, as winter makes it much more difficult with water lines, no heater and fewer pedestrians. Winter also puts a crimp in the restaurant’s business when the large outdoor seating area is largely unusable.

“We got through winter. It was a bit slower and we adjusted our hours,” Hartmann said. “We didn’t know what to expect, but we were able to pay our bills.”

Now, the hours are about to be extended again — 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday — and hiring is taking place to handle the expected surge in business.

With the food truck and a full slate of catering already lined up, Hartmann said the next step might be retail items such as packaged sauces. Until then, however, he’s just excited to get in the truck and help make food trucks a bigger part of Grand Rapids.

“It’s really exciting,” Hartmann said of the prospect of more food trucks. “People are out eating a wide variety of flavors with a lot of great smells. It can go anywhere. It just creates a festive atmosphere at those spots and it gets people outside and enjoying themselves.”

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