It’s no secret that “pivot” has become synonymous with the year 2020 in more ways than one. Maybe you’ve pivoted your catering business to family-style packaged meals, or perhaps you’ve pivoted away from corporate events in favor of micro weddings. Caterers across the country have found unique ways to keep their businesses running. However, some businesses have opted to accelerate, rather than pivot, such as Castle Event Catering, which has just launched a brand-new food truck with their 13 Bones Urban BBQ business.
“For some amazing reason we started this at the right time,” said Kathy Craig, who owns Castle Event Catering with her husband Andy. “Our favorite word lately has been pivot, and that’s what we’re doing, we’re pivoting into food trucks.”
The Craigs’ venture into food trucks actually didn’t arise out of the pandemic, but it has definitely proven to be a solution to a problem that they didn’t even know they were going to have—it will provide more access to customers who otherwise would not entertain due to the pandemic.
For some amazing reason we started it at the right time and everything unfolded from there,” Kathy said. “This is going to be good thing.”
BBQ on wheels
For their Food Truck, the Craigs teamed up with APEX Specialty Vehicles in Grain Valley to design their custom mobile kitchen. When designing their 13 Bones Urban BBQ food truck, the Craigs were looking to create something a bit different, a bit outside of the box, which is exactly why they turned to a box for their inspiration.
“We really wanted something that was unique because we have quite a few food trucks here locally,” Andy said. “We wanted to step outside the box and do something that stood out.”
The 13 Bones Urban BBQ truck utilizes a 24-foot shipping container that has been mounted on a truck platform, and where one side of the truck is complete glass.
“Wherever we go we can have an open kitchen concept,” Andy said. “We are on display when we are in the truck.”
In terms of the menu, 13 Bones Urban BBQ specializes in handcrafted barbeque and from-scratch sauces using regional ingredients, with Andy as the chief pitmaster. One of their most popular items is a slow smoked tri-tip.
“Food trucks are awesome because the food is amazing if not better than sometimes at a restaurant,” Kathy said. “The creativity behind it is really kind of limitless.”
She continues “Urban barbecue embraces all types of barbecue and its very creative; we didn’t want to be western, or inner city, or Texas barbecue because that’s not who we are. We have a rich culinary background and enjoy flavors and all sorts of barbecue.”
Rolling on through the pandemic
Operating a mobile kitchen isn’t necessarily something new for the Craigs, but it’s definitely a new adventure that they will be embracing with both hands.
“We're caterers, and that’s who we are at our core, so obviously we are flexible,” Kathy said. “Every day is different and that’s going to be the cool part about this —every day is going to be different because we’re not going down the path of the traditional food truck.”
How the Craigs will be using their 13 Bones food truck is three-fold: events, mobile kitchen and traditional food truck.
“They can deliver catering, do a party in small neighborhood, do large event catering with one vending window or they can open the entire side of truck to create an experience,” said Brad Carlson, CEO of APEX. “It won’t just be vending in streets.”
For events, the Craigs are expecting that the food truck can be used as an alternative food option rather than a traditional buffet or sit-down meal. Secondly, the food truck will serve as a mobile kitchen for the Craigs when they are off-site for an event.
“A lot of what we do, we build our own kitchen by hauling equipment on and off,” Andy said. “The older I get the less I want to do that, so now we can simply pull up and have the kitchen with us.”
And lastly, 13 Bones will be able to be used as a traditional food truck by setting up at wineries or outdoor concerts, and event having “Walk Up Wednesdays” in the Castle Event Catering where anyone can come by to get lunch.
Where the Craigs take their food truck is really going to depend on when and if events ever come back.
“I don’t know if the events we used to have are coming back anytime soon,” Kathy said, “but we have this amazing audience every time we put on an event so now it’s our base line for our truck.”
“We miss seeing our guests,” Andy said, “so being able to interact with them again is going to be a wonderful thing.”