By Bill Freehling | Fredericks Burg
A new Spotsylvania County manufacturing company is capitalizing on the growing popularity of food trucks.
For the past nine months, Rolling Restaurants LLC has been helping customers turn their visions for food trucks into custom-designed realities. The business has a 4,000-square-foot indoor shop and outdoor storage yard at 218 Industrial Drive in the Four-Mile Fork area.
The company helps customers acquire and finance a suitable truck and then build it out with a grill, generator, audio–visual, customer window, security, smoker, sink, refrigeration, air conditioning, plumbing, electricity, graphics and anything else that can be dreamed up to create a self-sufficient mobile restaurant.
The company also helps customers navigate the various government regulations on food trucks.
Rolling Restaurants is a partnership between young couple James and Stephanie Jarrell and longtime automotive fabricator Steve Brown.
For the past 35 years, Brown has been working on cars and other motor vehicles, starting and selling a number of businesses in that field. His father was an Indy-car crew chief who worked with Indianapolis 500 winner Gordon Johncock.
A couple of years ago, Brown moved from his native Indiana to the Fredericksburg area to be closer to his daughter, who lives in Prince William County. He opened a small auto shop off U.S. 1 in Stafford County to restore an old pickup, and before long began to take jobs fixing up customer vehicles.
In early 2012, Brown got a call from a Washington-based customer interested in building out a food truck. Though Brown had never done that before, he decided to take the job. The customer left happy, and told his fellow food-truck operators about Brown’s shop.
Brown was soon doing nothing but building out food trucks, and he outgrew his space.
Last year Brown stopped by The Tool Box Co., a store he had passed many times at 1529 Olde William St. in Fredericksburg. He left his business card and before long got connected to James Jarrell IV, who owns and operates the used-tool store.
Having owned businesses for much of his life, Brown wanted to step back and let someone else run the show while he concentrated on working in the shop. Jarrell’s wife, Stephanie, wasn’t happy in her early banking career and was looking for something different.
Thus was born Rolling Restaurants, which Stephanie Jarrell owns. James and Stephanie Jarrell now focus on marketing the business and interfacing with customers, while Steve Brown and an assistant run the shop. The business has been in the Industrial Drive space since last summer.
Most of Rolling Restaurants’ customers have come from the Washington area, but the business has done work for local clients including Abner Butterfield Ice Cream Co. They’ve been talking with Adrian Silversmith about building out a food truck for Silversmith’s peanut-butter-and-jelly-focused eatery, Sprelly.
Current projects include building trucks that will be used to sell coffee, frozen yogurt and healthy fare that includes goat cheese and avocados—the latter of which is for a Richmond-based company called Goatocado.
Though prices vary greatly depending on a customer’s needs, the Jarrells said they can outfit a food trailer for less than $20,000 and a motorized food truck for around $40,000.
That’s far less than the cost of building out a bricks-and-mortar restaurant, they point out, and many customers are able to clear thousands of dollars a day operating successful trucks. Some of their customers also have bricks-and-mortar locations and want to supplement them with trucks.
Some customers already have a truck when they come to Rolling Restaurants, while others just have a concept. The company has acquired trucks that have previously been used to haul packages, laundry and bread.
Rolling Restaurants is also branching into other areas, including selling parts for food trucks and making repairs. They are looking into getting a dealership license so they can sell their own vehicles rather than serving only as an intermediary.
Stephanie Jarrell said the new work brings her a lot of satisfaction, as it helps entrepreneurs move ideas to realities.
“I love everyone’s vision,” she said. “You never know what the next customer is going to dream up.”