Success With Fries and a Shake

It was just last summer when Jake Sendar and Timothy Patch decided to turn an old van into an ice cream truck. This year Sendar has gone solo as a fries and shake entrepreneur reports The Washington Post.

Sendar put together a 50-page business plan over the school year, got some money from Grandma and a bank loan, bought a truck he saw for sale in a parking lot and then set to outfitting it. After Queenstown RV and Marine in Beltsville installed a fire-suppression system, propane tanks, extended bumpers and cooking equipment, the truck still had to be modified four times to meet the District’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs regulations and pass inspection. Total startup costs: about $30,000. He was in over his head.

The day the Fry Captain truck finally passed inspection, Sendar had to return to Vanderbilt. The summer had ended, but the bills had not.

Enter Rusty Holman, a longtime executive chef whose last major stint was at Eatonville on 14th Street. He was ready to make a change when he saw Sendar’s ad on Craigslist for someone to run his french fry truck.

Holman knows how to make french fries. He cuts 100 pounds of Kennebec potatoes, blanches them in 350-degree vegetable oil for six minutes, cools them, then crisps them to order. Given that fries are all the truck offers, except for milkshakes, finding someone who had the knowhow was critical to Sendar’s operation.

The truck has been so busy since day one that Holman has had trouble hiring a staff. Right now he enlists the help of his girlfriend, Laura Culbreath, 34, a bartender at Bobby Van’s, and a friend, Justin Friedman, 31, who manages the Rookery at night. There’s no system in place to keep track of sales, but on a good day they take in around $500.

Photo from Keith McDuffee

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