Credit Martin Ricard
Adam Lee was working at a construction site at Stanford University when he realized there was something more important than punching the clock everyday: spending time with his young daughter.
Although he technically had a good job, he never really was excited about going to work.
“I just got tired of following someone else’s direction,” said Lee, 34.
So he followed his own heart and, ultimately, his own sense of food. Now, Lee is the owner of Adam’s Grub Truck, a fledgling food truck company that he started this year—based out of South San Francisco and San Bruno—that specializes in gourmet sandwiches with an Asian flair.
Very quickly, he has had to learn the ropes of running his own business. But it’s all worth it, according to Lee, because this is his American Dream.
As a new entrepreneur, Lee has already become a risk-taker by starting a business while the economy is still slowly recovering from the 2007 recession. He has also become a rarity, as the number of job seekers who have started businesses has significantly declined since the beginning of the recession, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas.
As of July, there were 8.6 million self-employed Americans, down from nearly 10 million in June 2007, and the number of self-employed workers has continued to decline throughout the recovery, which began in July 2009.
But Lee is confident that his business will be successful because he believes in it wholeheartedly and he picked an industry—gourmet food trucks—that has been steadily on the rise in California.
Part of his motivation for starting a food truck company came from his dad, who started his own electrical business in 1993. Lee admired his father’s work ethic, but he always regretted the fact that his dad missed out on a lot of his growing up because he was working all of the time.
Because of his self-starter attitude, he decided to start a food truck with some friends after working near a cafeteria as a quality control manager at a construction site at Stanford. His co-workers didn’t like the food choices being offered at the cafeteria and they were craving some dim sum. That’s when the idea clicked.
“I thought, ‘Imagine if there was a dim sum truck close by,’” Lee said. “At the time, there were none around the Bay Area.”
Unfortunately, the dim sum truck idea didn’t work out, and Lee and his friends parted ways. But the Asian slaw he created was a hit, he realized, so he took that dish and eventually incorporated it into his menu for his current food truck business.
That experience was a lesson, and Lee never looked back.
“Everything I’ve had to do, I’ve always had to do it myself,” he said, reflecting back to when all he had was an idea. “It’s a challenge, but it makes me happy.”
Now that he is out on his own, every day is a hustle. But each day brings new opportunities to perfect his food truck.
Already, his sandwiches have been creating a little buzz in the area. His mouth-watering sandwich, The Drunken Master, is always a hit with customers—pulled pork with barbecue sauce, Muenster cheese and jalapeños, topped with Asian slaw on a brioche bun.
Lee served up a bite-size version of The Drunken Master at the chamber’s Tastes of San Bruno event in October, and it was a hit there as well.
“His idea of fusion cuisine in bite-size sliders was a clever idea,” said Jessica Evans, CEO of the San Bruno Chamber of Commerce. “I hope that movable food vendors can grow here. I think that’s innovative.”
Find the entire article by Martin Ricard <here>