The first profile on thefoodtruckprofessor.com will be one that I obviously hold very dear to my heart. Despite my mother being a red seal chef and my father being an incredible cook himself, I never had any inclination to get into the food services industry. Personally, I always wanted to be a radio host, a dream that I finally achieved in the winter of 2012. Following a stint of waking up at 3am every weekend and hosting a top 40 radio program on a station in Toronto, that dream suddenly came to a halt. I was laid off, it was heartbreaking. Radio was the only thing I had really thought about doing for most of my adult life, but now I had become somewhat embittered towards the whole industry. Using what money I had saved from my radio career and with some help from my parents I decided upon a new career path, Food Trucking.
The current logo is an alteration of the original 1990’s logo
When I first conceived of the idea for The Panwich Company in the spring of 2015, I knew literally nothing about the food service industry. I had some past business experience running a sports memorabilia store with a friend of mine, but nothing related to the industry. What I did have was a product, the Panwich. My mother had invented the Panwich in the late 90’s. An incredibly versatile handheld featuring both savory and sweet varieties. She had attempted to market the Panwich as a frozen breakfast item sold in supermarkets, even being able to secure an order of 500,000 units from a major distributor. Due to the unique nature of the Panwich, she was unable to mass produce them and therefore couldn’t fill the order. The Panwich was, ironically enough, “put on the shelf”. My mother put years of hard work into making the Panwich a reality, and by the late 2000’s she had all but given up on the Panwich as a frozen food item. When I first approached her with the idea to market the Panwich as a Food Truck item, she was instantly sold and The Panwich Company was born.
A Cheesy Beer Burger Panwich served with a Nickelbrook “Cause & Effect” Beer
The summer of 2015 was one of many ups and downs. We learned on the fly, and we had our share of successes and failures. From truck design, to branding, to ingredient sourcing, booking gigs, formulating relationships with cities and business partners and every other facet of food trucking. It was an exhausting summer, but in the end a fruitful one. The Panwich Company partnered with Nickelbook Brewery to create a cheesy beer sauce that garnered rave reviews. We were able to adjust quickly to the market, greatly improving our margins from the start of the summer. Sure, some of the gigs weren’t as good as we had hoped, but this is part of the learning process. After my first season running The Panwich Company I was satisfied with the result, but hungry for more.
The view from the window at Mohawk Colleges orientation
The 2016 summer season got off to a slow start. More trucks had shown up this year, and the bookings for high value gigs were even more in demand. Upon being denied entry to several high profile events I began to get frustrated. Things quickly turned around however, my marketing efforts for The Panwich Company improved and as they did I actually had to start turning down multiple gigs. My inbox was crammed with requests and business was booming. The growth from 2015 was astronomical, and The Panwich Company branched out to wineries, breweries, festivals, fairs, and many other types of events we hadn’t been able to do in our first year. Business was great all summer, and I had accomplished most of my goals for the season. 2016 was a big success, I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store.