What is it like owning a food truck? Sheena Owens will be the first to tell you it is not all fun and games, there will be some disloyalty and you will experience many different things. Owens future holds little but it will be very big.
Owens has had her food truck for about one-and-a-half years. During that time, she has been going to culinary school. When she was not learning to become a better cook she was running her, as a regular would call it, “simply amazing” food truck. Her inspiration is her culinary teacher, Gretchen because she is so good at what she does and that makes Owens want to work harder.
Most people would wonder why someone would choose a food truck as their career, Owens created her business because she is a single mother and she can decide when to close, whether to open that day and whether or not to work. The trucks name does not fall far from the family, Owens named her establishment after her daughter. She loves the food truck more than anything but when it comes to her kids she does whatever is necessary, meaning she will close early if they need her or just be completely closed if she wanted to spend time with them.
“I love my daughter and I just love the name Kinley, so why not just name it ‘Kinley’s Southern Bistro’,” Owens said.
Being part of a food truck park, there will be a lot of competition due to everyone wanting to be the best and make the most money. Owens has experienced other trucks in our area stealing menu items and making them cheaper, because of how well they did for her truck. Now the disloyalty and the dishonesty does not just come from the other food trucks but from her past employees. Some of the things were stealing money and closing early once Owens left. Owens was very shocked and disappointed that they would steal from her and all she wanted them to do was stay to make sure they got everyone who wanted a taste of Kinley’s.
“There are no friends just acquaintances because at the end of the day they only worry about themselves and how they are going to make more money,” Owens said.
Kinley’s Soul is a traditional soul food truck and her menu is a very wide range for anyone including vegetarians and the pickiest eater. As a child, she did not like being forced to eat something she did not like, so her main goal for her food truck was to serve children and if she fed children then she would be able to feed whole families which is always a great thing for the business.
“I want to feed everyone and anyone,” Owens said.
A common misconception is that Owens is the main manager, not the owner. Customers have since learned she is the owner by Owens saying “I am not Kinley but I am the owner of this simply amazing food truck”.
What does the future hold? Some of her short-term goals are to get her own food truck and not just rent from a place. It has been achieved already. On May 16, she moved into her new yellow food truck and said goodbye to her old black one. Now, her long-term goal list is small but it will be very big. Owens plans on buying a school bus and turning it into a bar and grill making her the first food truck to serve alcohol. She wants to travel a little around the country so everyone can have a taste of Kinley’s. That is not the only thing she plans on doing, just like Tacos for Life, she plans on feeding unfortunate families. Owens plans on giving less fortunate families Thanksgiving meals, but there will be a southern twist to the traditional feast. For example, instead of stuffing, she will give them the ingredients to make cornbread dressing and she will include fresh vegetables.
Owens said that owning a food truck and running her business has exceeded her expectations. With one person tweeting about her truck, she went viral and in one year her business got huge.
Throughout her one-and-a-half years of owning the truck, she has had an equal amount of good and bad experiences whether it comes from the customers or the things life threw at her. Some of her worst experiences owning her food truck was when her old truck was broken into and was completely trashed, the windows were all broken and the equipment was thrown everywhere. The best experience was when she finally got her new truck and her church fully supported her with everything and helped her move into the new truck.
Owning a food truck is hard work but with the help of others and learning from the past it will be worth it in the long run. Creating food that you put your heart and soul into creates bonds with people through food. As Owens will say, all you need is “Good food, Good Friends to have Good Times.”