From his formal culinary education to his firsthand experience working with several skilled sous chefs in Las Vegas, Travis Moore, owner and operator of Truckin Trav Food Truck, had learned a lot of valuable information about running a successful kitchen in a variety of traditional and non-traditional settings before ever hitting the streets.
The distinctive food truck featuring a logo of a giant head and equally distinctive menu, all created by Moore, can be easily spotted at various venues and events in and around Richland County.
Moore had his culinary techniques shaped from several different perspectives as well.
“I literally started (at Fresh Markets) right when I started culinary,” Moore said. “It was kind of like a good direct thing. It was like a Vegas style buffet with seven different live action types of restaurants. I spent six months just working in the salad bar just learning how to make different salads and making (salad) dressings from scratch.”
Moore fondly recalled working with a sous chef from New Orleans who specialized in Southern Creole fare. They all came from different backgrounds, he said, adding the southern sous chef had great recipes for gumbo and a shrimp boil.
“I will forever remember that,” he said.
Moore eventually moved back to the Ohio because he enjoyed the changing seasons. He also pointed out the differences between starting a food truck in a city where one has stakes in contrast to starting a food truck in a town where you don’t know anyone.
“Like here, I got roots. I meet people that I don’t even know now. I have these incredible relationships with business owners and people that have also lived here their whole lives,” he said.
Moore worked a few additional jobs before joining Smokin’ Bros BBQ and continued to build his business acumen and cooking techniques before launching Truckin’ Trav. What started out as a gig running a trailer Smokin Bros BBQ for three and a half years transitioned into an opportunity for Moore to work for himself. And he decided to roll with it.
In 2018, he founded and launched his food truck.
So how did he come up with the name for his food truck?
Moore said during the time he was working for Smokin’ Bros BBQ, he also worked for a friend who owned a landscaping company.
“There was a day when all I did was run a dump truck, take dirt from one end to the other all day and they literally said ‘truckin trav’, and I said that is the perfect name for the food truck,” Moore said.
He added he had never wanted to name a truck with a name that had barbecue or Mexican or anything like that in it because he changes the menu so frequently.
“I don’t want people to assume that I cook a certain kind of food. I kind of go with the flow. There's really no rhyme or reason when I take things on or add them,” he said.
Moore serves up dishes he has branded and described as ethnic comfort food. The menu is filled with fun names like his signature Halaback Chicken Bowl and TikiMama Bowl, which are his takes on Indian style rice bowls. He enjoys fare with influences from India as well as hot wings, pizza and soups.
“That’s my favorite type of comfort food. Basically like something your grandmother would cook for you. Something that your grandmother would cook and would bring you joy and happiness while you’re eating it,” Moore said.
He also serves up fresh burgers made from scratch and fries that have been freshly cut.
As owner and chef, Moore freshly prepares everything for that day and then helps his one employee serve customers.
“For the most part we can run a pretty profitable truck with just two people,'' Moore said, acknowledging his mother may also help out from time to time when she’s free.
Since relaunching his second food truck (after his first one caught on fire while he was en route to an event last fall) he has ventured as far as Toledo for a 911 event for military families, something he didn’t do that often before the fire, though he would like to travel more in order to continue to learn varying perspectives about different types of foods.
While he has detailed on his Streetfinder page that the fire was frightening. He didn’t allow the peril to deter him or his vision of rebuilding the business as well as redesigning the logo for the truck. And rebuild is what he did.
Though there were people who wanted to start a GoFundMe Campaign to help him rebuild, he declined. While he admitted he was grateful for the outpouring and support from the community, he said he wanted to see if he could do it for himself and on his own.
“I am kind of stubborn that way, just to see if I can accomplish it on my own,” he said.
So Moore took some time off to regroup and in four and half months after the fire, his truck was up and rolling again.
“It was in the insurance people's hands. There wasn’t really much I could do but wait and be patient,” Moore said.
This time around, he painted the truck himself.
“I just decided what I wanted to do with this truck. It was like a second chance. I wanted to do this truck in a specific kind of way,” Moore said.
Would Moore like to own a brick-and-mortar business?
Moore’s open to the possibility of owning another food truck, but expressed some reservations about being able to find help as well as being able to trust another person to do the same job as he would.
“I have accomplished so much in such a short time. I mean, down the road I would like to own a small brick and mortar, but nothing crazy,” Moore said, adding that a friend of his said he should franchise. “I can't franchise yet, until I have something perfect.”
Moore's upcoming schedule is available at Streetfinder.com
Mechanics Bank presents the Courage at Work series, recognizing it takes incredible courage to start and run a business. As a local and independent bank, Mechanics understands that local businesses are the heartbeat of our community and would like to thank those businesses who call Richland County home.