Jacksonville, FL: Driftwood BBQ Food Trucker Confident He’ll Find Clientele

Owner Patrick O'Grady talks with customer Bryan Massey outside O'Grady's Driftwood BBQ trailer. WILL DICKEY/The Times-Union
Owner Patrick O'Grady talks with customer Bryan Massey outside O'Grady's Driftwood BBQ trailer. WILL DICKEY/The Times-Union

Last year, Patrick O’Grady made his living as parts manager at an Audi dealership. His life revolved around fuel injectors, alloy wheels and LED headlights.

Now, it’s pulled pork, ribs and beans.

He’s part of the still-small-but-growing world of Jacksonville’s food trucks.

As the owner and operator of Driftwood BBQ, he sets his shiny new trailer up outside office buildings and work sites for the weekday lunch crowd. Sometimes he’s outside Intuition Ale Works for the nighttime beer crowd.

When did you start this?
We started planning in April, and our first day on the road was Sept. 1.

What made you think it would work?
It’s just the big hit that food trucks are now, and there are so few in town. Everybody down here likes barbecue. It was an easy fit.

Did you have a restaurant background?
No, but my dad did and he taught me. I started barbecuing about five years ago, planning to do competitions. I think I’ve gotten it all down now.

M&R Trailers out on 103rd Street built your trailer. Was it stock or custom?
Definitely custom. We knew what we wanted. We didn’t need a fryer because we don’t fry anything. I went out and found some used refrigerators and they put those in.

We had a business consultant who was a former health inspector, and she told us exactly what we needed to get approved.

You’ve got a smoker on the trailer. Is everything done on location?
The pork butts are usually done the day before and warmed up. Ribs and chicken are smoked day of. I prep all the sides on my time off.

So what does a trailer like that cost?
About $30,000.

And you work it by yourself?
It’s pretty much just me. My wife, Amy, will come to help if we’ve got catering.

Do you get much of that?
Just a few a month. We’d like to do more, but being new and there’s so many others out there.

What’s a good lunch time revenue for you?
Probably $150-$200 on a normal day. Some days are up to $250 or $275.

Is that enough to keep going?
We’re paying our bills. I’m not really making a paycheck yet. Everything we make goes back into the business. But we’re going to start doing T-shirts and bottling our own sauce. That should bring more revenue. And we do have a wedding in July that we’re doing the reception for.

Some other food trucks have run into problems setting up. Have you?
No, but I really like to get permission from the businesses. As long as you’re not blocking traffic, you’re usually OK. But the Beaches are a bigger problem. The On the Fly truck got chased away from Green Room Brewing. Yeah, we parked at a couple hotels at the beach, but they came down on us. So we’ll be fighting Jax Beach on this, along with Green Room and On the Fly. We’re going to the town hall meeting next Monday.

Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/entertainment/food-and-dining/2012-02-14/story/working-first-coast-driftwood-bbq-food-trucker#ixzz1mStsvO7A