This week’s 5 on Friday we spoke with the co-owner of the Nashville based food truck, Riffs Fine Street Food.
Name: B.J. Lofback
Food truck name: Riffs Fine Street Food
Location: Nashville, TN
Year started in the mobile food industry: 2011
Mobile Cuisine: Why did you become a food truck owner, chef?
B.J. Lofback: Food has been a passion of mine as long as I can remember. However, I was too opinionated to find my way in the restaurant world. After years in digital marketing, I happened to read about Kogi BBQ in LA in 2009 and immediately set about making plans for my truck. The idea was just too amazing not to do! I’d been out of the food business for 12 years, but this was to be my way back in but under MY terms.
MC: Who has been the most influential person in your culinary career?
BJL: Well I’d have to say Roy Choi of Kogi. Considering one article about his venture (or should I say adventure) was all it took to change the direction of my life and here I am today. Beyond Chef Choi, I would say my wife Tonya. While she has no interest in cooking professionally, she’s amazing at everything she does. Its effortless to her. She taught me how to put love into my food and take it beyond creative expression.
MC: What do you think sets your truck apart from your competitors?
BJL: Probably the fact that we break the cardinal rule that you must have a set menu. Most trucks you walk up and know what you’re in for, burgers, grilled cheese, BBQ, whatever… For us, I can’t tell you what we’re doing tomorrow much less next week. While that’s a slight exaggeration, it is true that you might see three different menu’s in a given week. We get bored quickly and inspired just as fast. While some people don’t get that, the vast majority praise us for our ability to always have something they want to try! While we definitely play our hits, you’ll catch us jamming a good portion of the time!
MC: What are your plans for the future? Where do you see yourself and your food truck in 2 and 5 years?
BJL: People ask us all the time if we plan to open a restaurant. The answer is always “No!” Carlos (my friend and business partner) and I got into the food truck business because we wanted to be in the food truck business! Not because we wanted it to be a stepping stone to something else. There is something special about being in a different place everyday and the excitement people have in searching you out or happening upon you. I love that, it will never get old. I hope there are maybe a couple more Riffs trucks in a couple years, but right now one is all I can handle!
MC: What one suggestion would you give to someone planning to open a food new truck?
BJL: A lot of people look at food trucks and think it looks easy! How hard can it be to serve food out of a truck?? The best suggestion I can give is to say, do your research! Talk to food truck owners (if they can stop moving long enough). This life is just as much about marketing as it is about food. Just because someone said to you over a dinner you cooked that you should have a restaurant or food truck, doesn’t mean you should! This is the hardest thing I’ve ever loved to do!
Riffs Fine Street Food
Winner of Nashville’s 2011 Battle of the Food Trucks and the Nashville Scene’s 2011 Best of Nashville Writer’s Choice for Best Food Truck!