Laughing at Loose Tires with Bloomy's Food Truck
An interview with Katie Johnson of Bloomy's in Minneapolis, one of The Daily Meal's 101 best food trucks in America
Keywords Best Food Trucks 2012, Minneapolis, Bloomy's Roast Beef
The Twin Cities' self-described "first diner-style food truck" serves patrons the classic dishes they know and love. From baked desserts to creamy mac and cheese to french fries, there is a lot to love here. The show-stopper? The slow roasted beef, obviously. The secret? Bloomy's meat is locally sourced, marinated for days, and slow cooked until it is crazy tender. Co-owners Katie Johnson and Ryan Bloomstrom of Bloomy's Roast Beef only just took their 1998 Chevy Step Van to the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul this past April, but they've already developed a considerable following — enough to garner them a spot on The Daily Meal's 2012 list of the 101 Best Food Trucks in America.
Where did Bloomy's get its name (that one should be easy)? What are their plans for roast beef domination and do they involve going brick-and-mortar? What's their advice for coming up with a business plan when looking to get into the food truck game? And what do you do when you're driving your food truck and lose a tire? (Hint: laugh.) Find out in the interview with co-owner Katie Johnson.
What was the inspiration for going into this business?
Ryan (Bloomy) grew up with a family in the bar/restaurant business. Although he ultimately decided to pursue a sales career, the thought of getting back into the culinary industry was always in the back of his mind. He and his coworkers used to frequent a local diner that specialized in slow-cooked roast beef. Ryan approached the owner about a franchise but eventually decided, given the Twin Cities' popular food truck scene, to open the Bloomy’s truck!
What's the story behind the origin of your truck's name?
Ryan’s last name is Bloomstrom, and Bloomy was his nickname growing up (and still is!).
How did you come up with your truck's design? Is there a designer you'd like to give a shout-out to?
We used a social marketplace website called crowdSPRING and put out a bid for a logo. We were able to see dozens of concepts by a number of amazing artists. The logo we chose (designed by Vincent Manzione of Manzione Marketing & Design) had the perfect classic diner feel we were looking for. Ryan and his dad painted the truck in shades of antique white and silver and painted the wheels red to make Bloomy’s a true mobile diner.
Does your truck have a vanity license plate? And if so, what does it say?
Nope, not yet!
What model truck do you have?
It’s a 1998 Chevy Step Van which, in its former life, was a Frito-Lay fleet vehicle.
What's your signature dish? Is it also your most popular dish?
Our signature menu item is, of course, our beef! We only use Hereford Certified top sirloin, locally sourced, vegetarian fed and minimally processed with no artificial ingredients or animal byproducts. We marinate the meat for a minimum of 24 hours before slow cooking it overnight. It’s quite the process, but the result is the juiciest, most tender roast beef you’ve ever had.
A new dish of ours that is quickly becoming popular is "The George Michael." The George Michael features ¼-pound of thinly sliced roast beef, piled high on a lightly toasted bun and topped with crisp tater tots and our scratch-made beer cheese sauce. It’s delicious! A customer of ours, George Michael (not that George Michael) came up with the idea, so we named the sandwich after him!
What's the inspiration for your cuisine and recipes?
We offer a unique twist on classic comfort food, focusing on natural, locally sourced ingredients. Everything on the menu is made from scratch, fresh every day, so our customers can get a meal they feel good about at a price that’s easy on the wallet!
What's the most challenging thing about running your food truck?
In Minnesota — the weather! We can have 70 degrees and sun one day and 30 degrees and snow two days later. It definitely keeps you on your toes.
Would you ever go brick-and-mortar?
We’re actually just starting to think about either forming a partnership with an existing kitchen or opening one of our own.
What one piece of advice would you give someone looking to get into the food truck business?
Take your business plan and inflate your costs by 10 percent. If the numbers still look good, you’ve got a solid concept.
Any new upcoming dishes planned that you can tell us about?
We just launched our top sirloin chili and have a few other items in the works!
Any new plans on the horizon you can share?
Roast beef domination! (Just teasing.)
Lots of things happen when running a restaurant and that probably goes double on the road. As such, be it weird, funny, good, or bad, what's one superlative or particularly outstanding moment or story that's ever occurred with your truck be it with customers, in the kitchen, or just in general?
One afternoon in July, our manager was driving back to home base with our line cook, Amy, after a lunch shift. He was driving along a busy road and heard a noise from the back of the truck. What he said when he called us later that day will forever be ingrained in my memory. He said, "I’ll never forget the look on Amy’s face as I pointed out our rear tire passing us by." Our wheel had literally fallen off! It rolled several blocks before coming to a stop, and our poor manager had to go and recover it.
If that’s not bad enough — about three weeks later, the exact same thing happened with another tire! That’s why you’ll see neon yellow tabs on our hubcaps when you come to the Bloomy’s truck. We check them every day to make sure our wheels aren’t coming loose. Sometimes, you just have to laugh.
Arthur Bovino is The Daily Meal's executive editor. Follow Arthur on Twitter.