Eat Good Food

Eat Good Food truck exterior

By Lauren Hittinger

John and Jean Travis had run two successful restaurants, including the former Jonesville Store in Clifton Park, before getting into the food truck business three years ago with the Eat Good Food truck. The transition hasn't always been easy -- a sign on their truck reads: "The only thing more overrated than natural childbirth is the joy of owning your own business."

Even so, the experience has the Travises sticking to their core principles of serving fresh food made to order -- while having fun doing so. And along the way they've found success teaming up with other food trucks.

The truck

The Eat Good Food truck -- the actual truck itself -- is a 1994 model with 160,000 miles, and has just as rich a history in the food business as the couple behind it. Originally the truck was designed for Dove Ice Cream and is equipped with a huge Dove bar that rises out of the top of the truck. It then became a candy company vehicle, and then a fish fry truck on Cape May in New Jersey. That's where the Travises found the truck when they were inspired to enter the food truck business.

Logistically, working from a truck is a bit different from a restaurant kitchen. Besides the space constraints, there are real equipment limitations. Right now the truck doesn't have a range, so the Travises bring in different pieces to cook. They use the truck's outlets for a panini press, fryer, induction unit, soup pots, or anything else as needed.

While the truck does have refrigeration, the entire thing needs to be cleaned out at the end of every service, since it's not typically connected to power. John just sees that as good practice, since it allows them to inspect every ingredient and properly deal with it -- either trashing it or re-wrapping it for storage.

The food

John Travis has a lot of food philosophies, chief among them that he wants to offer fresh food that's made to order. As he said to me, "Being a pig-headed Scotsman, I'm not going to change."

His dedication to fresh ingredients means that the Eat Good Food menu is constantly changing, based upon what the Travises can find at local farmers' markets and what they can grow in their own garden. Jean joked that she's "not the earth mother, but you have to get back to what's real."

They're also adapting the menus based on events and themes. For example, the menu for a May 4th event was Mexican-themed for Cinco de Mayo, with tacos, burritos and jalapeno cheddar corn bread. All entrées came with a side salad.

If the food doesn't sell, they start fresh for their next service, with a new menu and new components.

eat good food truck John and Jean Travis
John and Jean Travis

The rules

The Travises say local guidelines for food trucks, which often restrict where they can operate, don't make the business any easier. "There are no food friendly cities locally," Jean said. They also say that many places or events include high fees for trucks that want to vend.

As a result, Eat Good Food and other trucks have been getting together to make their own opportunities, like the Food Truck Showcase of Upstate New York series. The coalition has already put on one event at the Saratoga Eagles parking lot earlier this month (with more to come). And this Wednesday, May 21 a group of the trucks are getting together for an afternoon/evening event at Shmaltz Brewing Co. in Clifton Park.

The experience

Whatever the complications, the Travises say they're enjoying the opportunity to take their business on the road, only accepting gigs that appeal to them. They love the entrepreneurial aspect of running a food truck.

"There's so many directions it can go in: catering, festivals, and lunch business" said John. "You just start small and then go on from there."

And their experiences have prompted them to focus on the positive, making three things a priority: "We want to enjoy where we're going, enjoy the people, and it has to be fun." Jean says "The food tastes better when you're having a good time."

Lauren writes about shopping, crafting, and living well on a small budget at The Thrifty Ginger.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Where the food trucks are. And aren't. And why.
+ The Wandering Dago food truck
+ Slidin' Dirty

Comments

THANK YOU, LAUREN, FOR SUCH A WELL-WRITTEN PIECE SPOTLIGHTING OUR FAMLIY BUSINESS!! WE APPRECIATE THAT YOU FEEL THE PULSE OF A TREND AND HAVE THE PASSION TO INVESTIGATE THE PEOPLE BEHIND IT! BRAVA!
SINCERELY,
JEAN AND JOHN

Could anyone possibly give me a link to see their menu? Or just tell me where I could find the menu online?

So nice to know what John and Jean are doing now! I was one of the many patrons of their wonderful Jonesville Store restaurant (I live close by), and we sure miss them. Glad to read they are doing well with the food truck! I will have to hunt them down to Eat (their) Good Food once again! :)

Hello to my fellow Travis descendents... remember the Alamo!

Lauren, I was fascinated by your references to food truck mechanics but would love some more details. When you say "outlets" are they 110 or 220, AC or DC? Can they operate standard appliances in there? What's the total capacity and is it run from battery or a generator or do they just keep the motor running. Also, "everything must be cleaned out" at the end of the day. There's refrigeration but it stops when the engine/generator/battery is turned off? How does that work?

Hi Nicole- Their menu is always changing, so I'd suggest you keep tabs on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/EATGOODFOODFORLIFE

And Burnt My Fingers- I don't know all of those answers. I know they use a generator to power the truck, and it seems like that have outlets that run standard appliances. They have built in refrigeration as well as an actual fridge in the truck, and I believe the power is off unless the generator is on or the truck is running. I don't know all the specifics, but Jean and John are very nice people. I'm sure they'd answer more questions.

Nice story. Wish them much success.

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