Brisbane food truck finds massive store success with Getta Burger
Brisbane concrete Brent Poulter had never stepped into a commercial kitchen in his life. But after a trip to America with his wife, he was inspired by the legion of food trucks serving high quality, delicious food. So he decided to do the same.
And so That BBQ Joint food truck was born. Brent built it entirely from scratch, including a fully-functioning meat smoker, kitchen, and prep area. Back in 2009, American BBQ was still a fairly unknown concept to the Australian consumer, and Brent had no idea how his concept would be received, let alone how his very new skills as a chef would go down.
"Food trucks were thought to be in the same boat as 'carnival food'," says Brent. "When we started, we had people coming up to us in the truck and asking what pulled pork was!"
But his prediction of American cuisine as 'the next big thing' was spot on, and his food truck was a raging success. Brent's career as a burger boss had begun.
In just two years, the business has ballooned from his homemade That BBQ Joint food truck into a fully-fledged chain of stores, called Getta Burger.
"We started with a food truck - That BBQ Joint - then moved into a shopfront, and we're six stores strong, and eleven by January," says Brent.
From cooking to serving, cleaning to accounting, food prep to marketing; Brent relishes his role as a small business owner. But how on earth did a newbie to the industry master the art of American BBQ?
"When you start to work in something you've got no experience in, you're forced to open your eyes and learn," says Brent. "That same theory applies to business as well. You're starting fresh, you learn to be savvy and onto it, and work out the best way to do something."
For Brent and his equipment needs, this came in the form of Silver Chef.
Depending on the concept, most food trucks often also have an offsite production kitchen where they prepare the ingredients and food, so that the majority of the work can be done prior to getting out on the road in the truck.
And Brent has found the Silver Chef solution to be the perfect way to get speciality equipment, fast.
"It's very easy," says Brent. "It's an easy platform for someone who's concentrating on building their business to use - there's no massive hoops to jump through, every time you call there's someone to talk to. You always get off the phone saying, 'question answered' - not, 'I'm more confused!'"
Compared to traditional lenders, Brent says that the speed of the Silver Chef solution was extremely helpful when he was in an intensive growth period, and needing to working IN the business, not ON the business.
"It's a very user-friendly system that helps you get on with what you do best, and that's your business."
To date, Brent is renting two gas griddles, a patty maker machine, and a two burner griddle. He's also rented and purchased outright a coffee machine and a coffee grinder.
In the early days, Brent set up his production kitchen for the food truck out the back of a space in Brisbane's suburb of Carina, but leased the shopfront as he slowly worked towards opening his first Getta Burger store.
"I used the back of the shop for my own prep, and rented out the front to some coffee guys to cover the overheads, then finally we got our act together and opened our first Getta Burger in Carina."
With a loyal customer base from the food truck and a concept that was truly ahead of the curve, the Getta Burger chain grew quickly. From humble beginnings of just himself and his wife, Brent now manages a team of 90 staff.
And even as they've grown, Getta Burger and That BBQ Joint have remained true to their roots.
"We do everything ourselves," says Brent, "we grind our own meat, press our own patties, make our own BBQ sauce, everything."
Looking forward to the future, Brent hopes to have 25 stores open across Queensland by the end of 2017, and is happy to report they are well on track to do so. He is humble about his success, and realistic about the sacrifices his speedy business growth has required.
"You have to work hard if you want to be rewarded?" says Brent.
We look forward to seeing what this burger-crazy businessman is going to do next!