Katie Oleinick, GM of Delectabowl, has over a decade of experience in both the food service and hospitality industries. However, her many jobs in catering coordination and restaurant management provided only a glimpse into the crazy, hectic life of starting a food truck. Continue reading to learn about Katie’s journey from Denver to Detroit and the first year of starting and managing a mobile eatery.
Food truck dreams turned reality
Katie Oleinick’s contagious passion for food and food service made her the ideal management candidate when grade school friend, Aaron Tye, decided he wanted to start a food truck in Detroit. Even though she was currently living and working in hospitality in Denver, Colorado, Tye approached her with the idea. At first, Katie thought Aaron was crazy; but after observing the increasingly popular food truck scene in Denver, it started to sound like a good idea. “I wasn’t expecting there to be so much hype, but people are genuinely excited to eat at a food truck.” Oleinick stated. “I thought it might be up-and-coming; I didn’t realize how big it already was.”
With already wanting to move back to her home state, she decided this new business would be the meal ticket to Detroit. After quickly getting on-board with the idea, Katie sought wisdom from those with experience. “When I first started, I went to a food truck in Denver and asked them, ‘What advice would you give me?'”, Oleinick explained. “They said things like, ‘You just have to keep pushing. Thinks will get a little bit easier, just dive in and keep swimming– things will get easier.'” Heeding the advice of the other truck owner, she hit the ground running.
An idea inspired by tradition
The next step was to determine what the duo would actually make and sell from the truck. Where did Delectabowl’s “fresh home-cooked comfort food with an original and modern twist” come from? Simple: comfort food is Katie’s favorite. “It was the first thing that popped into my mind,” she recalled. “I thought, ‘Who doesn’t like to eat hearty dishes and slow-cooked meats?'” Her and Tye included their families and significant others in the creation of the collective menu. Each took ideas and opinions of what was considered comfort food from their loved ones. The pair hopes customers feel nostalgic when ordering, eating and even after the meal. She continued, “I want customers to reminisce about the times they ate with their friends and family; to say things like, ‘Oh my Grandma used to make this.’ Not over the top, just simple, good comfort food.”
Since moving back and officially opening with a customized truck in July 2014, Oleinick says business has been much busier than they ever expected. She’s thrilled with how much the food truck scene has grown in Detroit, and Delectabowl is extremely excited to be a part of it.
Katie belives it was absolutely the right decision to move back to Detroit and start a new business; she loves the feeling of being in the city. Reflecting on coming back she said, “I grew up here, but it almost feels like I’m meeting Detroit for the first time. It’s a totally new city.” Having a food truck surrounded by other thriving businesses gives the owners a feeling of “aliveness” in Detroit, further proving the right decision was made.
Now, as weather gets colder and temperatures drop, Delectabowl will change their primary focus during the winter months. Instead of posting up in Cadillac Square, where they spent most of the summer, the majority of time will be spent working on catering and business lunches across Metro Detroit. Katie says the goal will remain the same, to make it simple for the customer, “They build their own spread… We’ll drop off the food and they can make their own bowls.” As for what is next, the team is already looking forward to spring. She says they plan on making the most out of next year’s season by launching earlier, “We have more experience under our belts, it should be less chaotic.”
And what advice does she have for other potential food truck owners? “Work as hard as you can in the first year and get your name out there. Make sure your product is really where you want it to be, and focus in on that. Getting your name out there in a positive way is most important.”
Have a question for Katie or Aaron? Have you seen the big blue truck around town? Leave a comment and let us know!
You can learn more about Delectabowl’s services and see their full menu here.