“If you’ve found what you love, take the risk – it’s worth it.”
Food Truck Covers Major, Unexpected Expenses with Kabbage
In Chattanooga, Tenn., the food truck scene is booming. Locals and tourists alike spend time outside indulging in local eats, especially on warm summer nights.
The trend, along with a family history in Southern cooking, inspired Chef Jacob D’Angelo to start Rolling J’s Mobile Bistro, a gourmet food truck specializing in Southern cuisine. He now manages a staff of six to keep up with the company’s growing following.
Overcoming Unplanned Obstacles
In July 2017, Jacob’s food truck engine exploded. “We all cried,” he says. The timing was particularly unfortunate: it was the middle of the high season for their business and a time when they were winning contests for their most popular dishes.
Because Rolling J’s is entirely mobile, the explosion put a temporary halt on sales. Jacob’s business partner exited the business, which left Jacob to resolve the issue on his own.
He needed to buy a new vehicle — a $7,300 purchase — to keep the business afloat.
Even though Rolling J’s was growing and generating $100,000 a year in revenue, Jacob didn’t have enough credit to take out a traditional small business loan. “Banks basically tell you ‘no’ before you even sit down,” he explains.
A fellow food-truck-owner recommended Kabbage. After doing his own online research, Jacob applied and was qualified for a line of credit within a few weeks.
With the Kabbage line of credit, Jacob purchased a new trailer to replace the original food truck. He was also able to cover resulting expenses, including a professional paint job to brand it with the Rolling J’s logo.
“It’s smaller, it’s cuter and it’s more gas efficient,” Jacob says of the new trailer. Loyal customers make a point to grab a bite and check out the new setup. As a result of the upgrade and being back in business, he’s seen gross margins increase by 40 percent.
“I couldn’t have done it without Kabbage,” Jacob adds. “Beyond purchasing the new equipment, I was able to keep up with revenue during that business transition.”
Envisioning a Brick-And-Mortar Future
Jacob hopes to expand Rolling J’s to a brick-and-mortar restaurant, which would allow him to build an even bigger, more diverse menu. He’s exploring a longer-term Kabbage loan to achieve this.
As he looks to the future of the business, Jacob swaps ideas with others in the Chattanooga small business community, both through local associations and informal groups. The food scene is evolving and opportunities abound. “We’ll make more money and be more successful if we work together as business-owners,” he says.
Year established: 2013
Type: Food truck
Location: Chattanooga, Tennessee
Growth: 40% increase in gross margins
Growth goal: Launch brick-and-mortar
Kabbage customer since: 2017