A Tale of Two Trucks: Part One
Stand and Stuff Your Face
A new eatery has pulled into town. Though a warning to would-be restaurant goers: it’s awfully hard to get a seat. That’s because after a winter of honing their menu items indoors at the Baddeck Legion, Tim Lockhart and Rhonda Boivin are about to debut the new permanent digs for their company Stand and Stuff Your Face - a 14’ foot food truck trailer.
The food truck phenomenon has been growing in popularity across the continent but their truck is one of only two in the area.
“It’s exploding in Ottawa. There’s tonnes in Calgary and Vancouver. It just hasn’t really reached out here yet. We’re lucky that we’re amongst the first in the area,” says Rhonda Boivin, one half of the enterprising duo.
Boivin cooked at Bell Bay before starting the company, while Lockhart most recently worked at Shannex in Sydney.
Originally from St. John, New Brunswick, Lockhart has been a chef for nearly thirty years. Much of that time was spent with companies out West (where he met and fell in love with Boivin) until a gig as head chef at the Inverary Resort brought him to Baddeck five years ago.
Lockhart says after cooking in other people’s establishments for so long, he lost interest in being in the kitchen. Both he and Rhonda expected her to be the lead chef for their start-up, but now that things are up and running, Tim is ironically doing much of the cooking.
“It’s the first time in thirty years I’m really having fun in the kitchen. And that’s what it is all about. You get up in the morning and you’re excited to go to work. I’m happier now than I’ve ever been,” says Lockhart before an afternoon shift at the Baddeck Legion Branch 53.
Their signature item is the grilled cheese cheesy burger – that’s right, a grilled cheese stuffed with a burger.
Lockhart says there are usually eight items on offer but the menu changes weekly. He says it’s easier to change up the menu with a food truck because they keep their inventory low.
“If you sell out of an item, you sell out of an item. You don’t have to rush around and get it. That’s why we have eight different items on our menu. It gives us a lot of flexibility and room for creativity.”
Not everything rolled along smoothly in their first year. With their decision to go the food truck route, Lockhart hired a company in Ontario to convert a truck in their fleet to the couple’s specs for prepping and cooking meals. Lockhart and Boivin put a hard-earned $10,000 down on the truck, which was due to arrive last August 13th.
“The whole two months when we asked how it was going, there was always excuses like ‘it’s too hot today to work’ or ‘I just gave my workers three days off ’,” explains Boivin.
Despite constant assurances, Lockhart finally decided to run the VIN number that the company owner had given them. It turns out the number didn’t even closely match the vehicle they had ordered.
At that point, the couple cancelled the order a week before the scheduled delivery date. Unfortunately, a fine print clause in their contract said that if the contract was cancelled, their down payment would be forfeited.
Out ten thousand dollars and down on their luck, Tim’s mother convinced them to pursue their dream a second time.
“Not a month after we opened our business, my mother died unexpectedly,” says Lockhart. Then with a tired chuckle he adds, “it’s been a long year I tell you.”
With no truck to make a go of it, the couple were approached by the Baddeck Legion to see if they would cook food for their Saturday Chase the Ace event. The food proved so popular, they expanded their openings to Friday, then Thursday, until they were open six days a week.
In an area that traditionally caters to tourists, Lockhart and Boivin carefully point out that they are here to provide food year-round.
“Our menu reflects how we appreciate the locals because our price is a price point they can enjoy. No matter who you are, locals are your bread and butter. Tourists are here for five months of the year, locals are here for twelve.”
At the same time, Lockhart believes their price point will be attractive to tourists who are looking for an affordable meal while visiting town.
This summer, the couple will be parked seven days a week in the Legion parking lot except for a few previously booked events. During the Cabot Trail Relay Race, Tim will take the shiny new trailer to the base of Cape Smokey ski resort while Rhonda stays back in Baddeck and cooks for Chase the Ace. Part two of this series will appear in the next issue of the Standard.
Tim Lockhart (left), and Rhonda Boivin (right) are married in life and in business. The two decided to go out on their own and start Stand and Stuff Yer Face after years of cooking for others in the hospitality industry.