Everyone has a story to tell. Everyone has traveled along on their own eventful journey. Mobile kitchen owners in the food truck industry certainly have their own stories to tell, and the Soul Food Stop is no exception to the rule.
FoodTruckr had the pleasure of talking to Achsha Jones of the Soul Food Stop. In 2008, the Soul Food Stop started as a catering company. Now, it can be considered Detroit’s first Mobile Food Retail Distributor.
Just like any other food truck owner and business in this fine industry, Jones and the Soul Food Stop have a remarkable story to tell.
As a result of the Soul Food Stop having a great story to tell, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it is a unique business in a growing industry. Needless to say, it isn’t a typical (or traditional) food truck that foodies would see today.
“What makes us unique is that we are a food truck on steroids. We’re not a food truck, but we’re a food bus,” said Jones. “Having to prepare the food and maintain a staff, we collaborate and have strategic partnerships with the best food that is available in our area, and we sell and market for them. So we are more of a retailer than a producer.”
Like all owners who decide to open up their own business, Jones has a favorite part when it comes to owning and operating the Soul Food Stop.
“My favorite part is partnering with Detroit businesses, and expanding their market to the suburbs and introducing new customers to a base.”
Like so many other brilliant minds in the past, the Soul Food Stop saw a hole in an industry, and it filled said hole with a brilliant idea.
“What I figured out during my day job, I did business-to-business sales, was that there was a market and a gap in the market for people who were hungry, who were on a short lunch break, who wanted good food. They didn’t want any machine food. They were tired of fast food. So I figured out the best way to marry that was to have our food that we catered on a custom food truck, but then it morphed more into a bus. So that’s how the idea morphed into a bus, cafeteria style.”
Unlike traditional food trucks, Jones didn’t want to have to cook all of the food right after the customer ordered it. After all, that takes precious time, and not everyone has an endless amount of time during a lunch break.
“…the secret is getting people who are already famous for what they do and partner with them. The name has always been Soul Food Stop, and now we really are the stop for soul food. It’s not just ours. It’s the best cheesecake. It’s the best chicken. It’s the best sweet potatoes. It’s the best mac and cheese.”
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The hardest part for Jones in the food truck industry so far has been the capital, which tends to be the hardest part for most business owners who enter this industry. In terms of the easiest part, it has been the concept of the Soul Food Stop.
“The easiest thing has been people’s reception to the concept… The easiest thing has been introducing ourselves to the people who are becoming our vendor partners… People are super open to the idea and I thought it would be harder than it was.”
Although the Soul Food Stop is doing wonders in the food truck industry, Jones has bigger goals for the future.
“Our big goal, our big, hairy, audacious goal, is to one day be able to take our company public.”
On top of that, Jones said she wants the Soul Food Shop to become for food trucks what McDonald’s has been to the fast food industry.
“I think it’s scalable because it’s a very easy model to duplicate, especially since you aren’t producing the food yourself.”
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