Davin Vculek and Joe Blanton, owners of Sacramento-based Krush Burger, had worked in the regular restaurant industry for years and actually met through the industry – Blanton was working for a large vendor of the major restaurant company where Vculek was a food purchasing manager (and executive chef). Both say they had been looking into how to get into the business of owning their own restaurant and decided that the food truck route was the best way to get into the industry so they created Krush Burger.
They started with one idea – serve great burgers – one truck and one employee, but as essentially the only food truck in Sacramento they immediately garnered local attention. “It was our good food and our good service that allowed us to capitalize on the local media attention,” Vculek said. Krush Burger grew quickly, adding a second truck (while replacing their first truck with a whole new top-of-the-line vehicle) and then reached back into Davin and Joe’s past and added two “brick and mortar” outlets.
Moving into the fixed facility restaurant world while keeping a foot in the food truck world is a bit unusual, especially considering the occasional enmity that can bubble up between the two industry sectors. But Blanton points out that much of what many more typical restaurateurs think about food trucks is not exactly accurate.
“It’s true our startup costs are less, but it’s also true that we have to deal with a lot more local bureaucracy. Trucks move, so we need to have all of the proper permits for each county and each city where we operate,” Blanton said.
The other main difference is how to attract a customer base. In regards to their regular restaurants (two existing in Sacramento and Davis, a third to open up in Dubai – yep you read that right, Dubai – and a fourth coming next year to Roseville) the customers by definition know where to go to get a great burger and sweet potato tots and a good local beer. With food trucks, the onus is on the owners to communicate directly with their customer base to inform them of exactly where they will be at any given time.
Blanton said without Krush Burger’s significant social media presence the task of keeping the customers in the know world be quite difficult. “We had to find our own customers so that they could find us – literally – so we had to actively market ourselves,” Blanton said. “Many restaurants just open the doors and wait for people to show up. We couldn’t do that.” Krush Burger now has more than 8,000 twitter followers and a significant Facebook presence. In fact, last year the company ranked in the top 15 of ALL burger chains in the country (yep – McDonald’s included) for the size and scope of its social media operation.
As Krush Burger expanded, Vculek and Blanton realized they need a bit more working and equipment capital and that’s where SAFE-BIDCO came in. The company recently inked a $235,000 federal SBA loan through SAFE-BIDCO and was tapped by the SBA itself recently as one of five “Small Businesses of the Year” for the northern California region.
“SAFE-BIDCO was fantastic to work with and very supportive,” Vculek said. “They really helped us navigate the process.”
For more information on Krush Burger (or to find one of the trucks) visit them at www.krushburger.com.
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