Curiocity: Food Truck Feature — House Of Hunger
With so many new — and delicious — food trucks hitting the streets of the Twin Cities each summer, it’s almost too tough to keep up. Well, fear not, we’re here to help. Here’s this week’s food truck feature!
They may not be as ‘twisted’ in name as they used to be but one thing’s certainly for sure — this truck will put an end to your hunger.
The House of Hunger food truck has been around for a couple of years now but what they’re able to do with a tiny kitchen and a hefty menu continues to impress.
Whether it’s elevating Philly sandwiches with their special sauce or giving a twist to your typical hot dog, the staff inside this food truck will ensure you’re both fully fed and fully entertained.
Let’s find out more about this week’s feature.
Owner: Wesley Kaake and Cody Allen
Date the food truck opened: Roughly July 4, 2011.
What kind of food do you serve? Urban comfort food.
Price range of menu: Anywhere from $5 to $12 per meal, depending on what you get.
Hours of operation: Usually on the streets from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., plus various special events.
What was your job before opening the food truck? I did tech support for Apple, for iPhones, iPhone Touch and iPads. The owner of the truck (Wesley) was an administrative assistant for Globe University, until he finished his business degree and then started looking into, originally, a doughnut shop. It evolved and now we have a food truck, not a doughnut shop.
What made you change paths from doughnuts to a food truck? The money. Quite honestly, it was the money. When we first went in for a loan for the doughnut shop, they told us 15 percent down, no problem, we could get the loan. And then we went back a couple months later all ready to go, with all the signatures and they wanted 50 percent, which, if we had that we wouldn’t have needed the loan in the first place. So we started talking about the food truck because the idea had been brought up in meetings with the city, just as an idea to keep in mind, and we did it. We worked on the doughnut shop for about five, five-and-a-half months and then within two weeks after that fell through, we were driving out to Ohio to pick up the truck. So, it went quick. (Laughs)
So from tech support to food trucks, what made you want to get into the culinary business? I’ve always enjoyed cooking and I loved people. I had actually just finished my IT degree the first year, a couple months into our season, so I was, and am still, managing the website, facebook, twitter, all the digital stuff. All the logo work that we’ve done, all of that stuff. So I still get the IT part of it, just not the “have you tried turning it off and back on yet?” We’ve gotten past that stage.
How did you come up with the name? We actually bought it. It came with the truck, we found it. It was originally the Twisted Sister House of Hunger. Come the end of last year or beginning of this year, we’re no longer using the first half — it got censored by the 80s.
And the logo, too? Yep, she came with it. Her name was different. We have changed the name to Kathy, in honor of Wesley’s mom who passed away two weeks before we opened the truck. It was definitely a struggle to get going. He lost his mom and it was a six-month decline so it was very, very difficult but he kept it together. In our very first event, there was a live band playing and they actually sang a song dedicated to Wesley and his mom, in honor of our first day opening when she couldn’t be there. So that was awesome. We’ve had a couple special events where they’ve acknowledged us on stage and we’re like, “Wait, did they just say our name?” We always try to take care of the bands, as well as our customers. They can’t play good music unless they’re well fed.
How is the food prepared? We make it all fresh. If you order a Philly, it will be five minutes because we will be cooking the vegetables fresh. We’ll be toasting the bun as soon as you order it. The fries are obviously cooked to order, because we don’t have a warmer. Everything’s made fresh. We do have a little bit higher of ticket times than other trucks just because we’re pulling it right off the grill to give it to you. There’s only so much you can do with a 24-inch grill. So sometimes that can have a little bit of an effect but we pride ourselves with having a lot of fun with the customers, not only to distract them but to make sure they’re having fun since they’re standing out here with us for 15 minutes or so. We just want everybody to have fun, enjoy the food and kind of make it a thing, instead of “oh hey, let’s go get lunch.” It’s kind of a thing — we’ll walk out of the truck and give people hugs. We have our regulars. We definitely have fun with it.
How did you decide on the menu? It actually has evolved. Our first year, we were doing beef brisket and pulled pork and we were doing it very differently. It was a big, long process. It was a headache. We were, on average, pulling 16-hour days every day, just to be out for lunch. Then early last season, we found a so-much-easier way to do everything and made the decision to eliminate the beef brisket and switch to Phillies, just because steak, cheese on a bun, you can do so many different things. And a lot of the stuff for the Phillies, we already had, so we just changed meat. So it has evolved a little bit.
We just wanted comfortable, urban food that everyone can find something on our menu they like. The hot dogs have been fun, because they’re just deep-fried hot dogs, simple as that. Our first year, people were like, ‘Wait, what? No cornbread, just a hot dog?’ and the second year, they moved on to ‘I don’t get it but it sounds good so I have to try.’ And now this year, we’ve already noticed we’re running out of hot dogs every other day. It’s awesome. I love it. They’re called Rippers, back east, which is where they started. It’s just a sliced up hot dog, we throw it in the deep frier for about a minute and a half and it gets very crispy on the outside and very juicy on the inside. So it’s definitely a bit distinctive. We don’t boil the dogs; they’re made fresh. But people are starting to catch on to them, which is great.
Another thing we’ve added on this year is chicken. We’ve never had chicken before. We brought that in, which we’re loving and our customers are loving. I don’t know why we didn’t do it earlier. It’s one of those, as soon as we tasted that first chicken taco, we thought, ‘Why didn’t we do this two years ago?’
What’s your favorite dish that you serve? I would have to say the Dirrty D, which is a deep-fried hot dog on a bun with pepperjack and cheddar cheese and then you’ve got spiced up pulled pork, bacon and rib-eye steak on top of the hot dog, with our signature polygamy sauce and blue cheese crumbles. It’s intense. It is spicy. It is good. It’s a $9 hot dog but you do get your $9 worth, for sure. Every time I try to eat it, I cannot do that last little bite. So it is a mouthful, especially if you get fries.
Describe your truck in one word: Characteristic.
What’s your craziest story from working at a food truck? Do you have like a week? Because I have a lot of stories. (Laughs) Let’s see, Zombie Pub Crawl last year, my order taker got punched in the face. Just drunk people being stupid outside. We ran out of propane and had to run to Bobby and Steve’s and get their little temporary tanks. Because I wasn’t about to stop serving — there were too many zombies that day.
We did an incredible event our very first year with the Courage Center, which was hosted at the BMW Minnetonka. They actually had — I can’t remember the exact number — but it was 10-12 food trucks actually pulled into the service bay and parked indoors. It was a five-star cuisine event in recognition of Courage Center’s donations that year, all the benefactors, donors and all that. It was just a beautiful, beautiful event — you never would’ve thought it was a car dealership. It was gorgeous. It was incredible. We had so much fun. We still get approached about it. … That was just an incredible night that I will never forget.
We vended a three-day music festival last year. It was the first event that we had where we didn’t take the truck back to restock, to clean, all of that. We packed three days worth of food and could barely move around the truck. But it was incredible. We got to see Nas perform. It was an incredible event and I would totally do it again in a heartbeat.
We catered for an independent movie shoot earlier this year for nine days. Got to meet an Academy Award-winning actress through that, which I can’t say names. (Look for details on their Facebook page in the coming months.) Every day is something. Every day something happens and if it doesn’t, we start to worry. If our generator doesn’t die, if we don’t run out of propane, if something doesn’t work, you know, every day we have to adapt to something new. But that’s fun. I love a challenge. And what better challenge than “oh no, it’s not going to work like that today. You’re going to have to find a different way to do it.” We have fixed things with duct tape and a twist tie. But pretty much we make do with what we have and then have a good story to tell afterwards.
What’s one thing you want people to know about your food truck? If you come to us, have fun. If you come to our truck, have fun. We sing. We dance. … We like to have fun. We like to know our customers have fun and we like to have fun together. So when you come to us, expect to have a little fun and some good food.
Catch the Food Truck Feature every week, in the Curiocity column. Know of a food truck you think should be featured? Let us know by leaving a comment below or tweeting your suggestion to @SaraPelissero!