Baugher Led One Fat Frog Reimagines Food Truck Industry
The Post-pandemic, vision for dining experiences has evolved as a result of the changes of how the nation now dines. The last two plus years were marked by skyrocketed takeout and delivery orders while fine dining restaurants with white tablecloths were put on the back burner.
One of the constants both Pre and Post Pandemic has been the continued growth of the food truck. A properly designed truck with a simple menu has become the industry’s most impactful solution for a wide variety of operators. From the new stand-alone home for chefs moving from five-star resorts to their own food truck business to a satellite extension for an existing restaurant brand, these mobile kitchens have changed how the foodservice professional create exciting dining solutions.
“In previous generations, food trucks really had the perception of a ‘roach coach’, not being inspected, sort of flying under the radar, and generally having a bad reputation,” noted Connie Baugher, President and Chief Growth Officer of One Fat Frog. “Today, we see the opposite — there has been a significant move towards a sophisticated kitchen being seen in food trucks. Everything we would be doing in a brick and mortar we are now doing in food trucks, from mall kiosks to fine dining restaurants.”
“This is all about an unprecedented entrepreneurial opportunity whether it be for a Mom & Pop operator or market or a larger scale operator,” Baugher continued. “What is unique is that although foodservice experience is helpful, it isn’t necessary as many of our new to the industry operators have found success.”
With the growing expectation and ability to get things delivered to our door so easily, food trucks are another way food can be brought to the consumer. “The beauty of the food truck life is the ability to mold it to what you as an operator want to be. You are not lied to in a locality and can go where the people are. As long as you are true to who you are and are putting in the hours, intent, and elbow grease you will succeed.”
One Fat Frog’s clients have been able to tap into the recipe for success that the Florida based firm has documented through its hundreds of success stories. “You would have to think like a manager, not an employee, and be able to integrate menu planning and costing. When it comes to advertising and booking events, both have to be done for a food truck. Some operations take advantage of using food trucks in lieu of a brick and mortar location so they are not restricted to one place. Many operators only do special events and feed 10,000 people in a single day. There are so many different shoes that fit a food truck operator. Only can work during the day, the evening, seasonable? That’s all doable with the travel benefits and specialty services that a food truck business provides.”
The types of menus and concepts that Baugher has seen succeed in the food truck industry share a common thread. “The simpler the menu, the better. You are selling what your highest profit items are and what you can expedite to continually produce consistent quality.”
One of the key advantages of Food Trucks is the ability to continually seek locations that reflect how neighborhoods are evolving. “From a new dorm on a college campus to the need for foodservice in front of a business that needs to replace their cafeteria, our trucks have flexibility,” Baugher continued.
The key to marketing the ability to position trucks at multiple locations has been tapping into low-cost social media platforms. “Lots of operators will gain followers on Instagram or TikTok by sharing their recipes and gaining millions of views and lots of traction to the business. We have found that the key to successful social media has been to be yourself.”
Baugher and her team created One Fat Frog in 2005. They brought decades of commercial food service equipment and design to their food truck design enterprise. “We had been building brick and mortar restaurants and working with chefs, architects, and professionals who are fully licensed in their specialties. There is so much thought and knowledge that goes into everything we do. We are dedicated to the quality of the build. Why cut a corner if you want the best?”
The One Fat Frog moniker began with a client who commented that frogs only move forward. “It was 2am in the morning and I saw a frog that looked like Jabba the Hutt, laughed, and said, ‘That is One Fat Frog!’ and from there the business took off. We are now the nation’s largest food truck and trailer operation.”
Baugher also touched on how most franchises can be taken mobile and help expand an existing brand: “Food trucks can be a way to do a soft opening while construction of a larger brand is going on. This helps get name recognition- if it’s in the neighborhood it can soften the market and operators can go into the community and become a community brand that way. Some start that route and do events and then realize they make more money doing events than through their brick and mortar. It’s not the end of the brick-and-mortar business, but a nice addition to it. We have a donut operator that has created a central baking commissary and simply keeps adding our trucks to expand their brand.”
For more information regarding direction and vision for a food truck business, One Fat Frog has a whole team to fulfill a consultation. You can contact them at 407-480-3409 or at [email protected]. or visit their website. Virtual tours of food trucks are also available.
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