I started my food truck business 7 years ago today, February 1st, 2010. I remember hearing “The food truck business is not for everyone…” “Why a food truck? It’s a hard business to survive.” “Why are you driving a roach coach?” “There is no money in the food truck business.” “Did you go to college?” Everyone’s fearful words made me insecure about what I had just put myself into.
The first day, I took my food truck out to UT by Dobie Mall with my first employee, Julia. She’s still with me today as a manager and I couldn’t be more proud of her. She’s not only an amazing employee but also an incredible mom to her two kids. On that first day, we made $7 and I remember assuring Julia I had enough money to pay her and not to worry about her wage. The second day, we made $14. Today, we have a fleet of food trucks, five brick and mortars, a full-service catering department and a homemade kimchi facility.
We couldn’t be where we are today without the people that make up Chi’Lantro. Ryan, our Director of Operations, came on board almost 7 years ago and remains one of the hardest workers in our company. Ask anyone on our team, and they will tell you Ryan makes the most impact on our growth. His job isn’t in the spotlight, but he works tirelessly to ensure everything behind-the-scenes runs smoothly and efficiently. Mike, our CFO, works 16 hour days and he breathes, sleeps and eats Chi’Lantro. His work ethic is unreal. Our young leaders, who started out as cooks on our food trucks in their teens and young 20s, Scott, Adrian, Caleb, Carlo and Reno, are now the next generation of leaders in our company who can proudly cultivate our culture. More new leaders have joined in our company to bring their amazing talents to make a positive impact in our lives.
It’s crazy to see how we’ve grown from a single food truck with two people to a team of over hundred team members sharing the same vision. What started as a way of survival for me turned into a vision that I share with a lot of people in our company today. Great people take care of great things in our organization.
I never gave up when times were hard. I doubled down, maxed out my cards multiple times when I didn’t have the funds and I kept my pride aside for the bigger dreams when people tried to take advantage of my lack of experience.
Today, vision is what holds our people together.
Putting customer satisfaction first is what makes our company grow. Our customers in Austin have been so embracing and supportive. We want to continue to serve our best to you. We will inevitably make mistakes along the way, but please continue to let us know when we do. My experience with making changes overnight is it’s tough as it takes time to communicate thoroughly and implement properly, but we strive to listen to our customers at all times and want to keep making those changes for the better. Thank you for letting us serve you Austin.
Jae Kim, CEO & Founder