We had the opportunity to sit down with Marissa and Matt of Boo Coo Roux, a Cajun & Creole food truck based in Chicago, and learn about their journey.
We thought about it for a while and imagined some different scenarios, some in where we would possibly leave Chicago. There was about two years of various research, trips to other cities, getting to know the scene around Chicago, and experimenting with recipes before we decided it was time to go for it. We realized the the food truck scene was growing in Chicago and wanted to jump in before it became oversaturated.
We wanted something fun and kind of crazy without going too overboard or looking like a scene from Bourbon Street. In our heads we imagined a clean and sophisticated look that had an edge to it. We initially wanted the design to be colorful without looking tacky. We never imagined black as being our background color or main color, but when we were presented with it we loved it. Nicole transformed our ideas exactly how we imagined it.
We originally thought of the name Roux, simple yet an important ingredient in one of our main dishes, gumbo. That name was taken, not by another truck but by another Illinois business so we started playing around with how we could still use the word roux in our name. We researched words and found the slang word "boo coo" which comes from the French word "beaucoup" meaning "a lot" and it all came together from there.
Homemade fresh and spicy quality Cajun comfort food with a twist.
We originally considered moving to Colorado in order to open a Chicago-style food truck with dishes like homemade Italian beef and homemade hot dogs and bratwursts. After some research on the industry in Colorado we decided to stay in Chicago and try it here first. We needed to drop the Chicago-style food since there are already so many options (but we still have an amazing Italian beef recipe on the back burner just in case!). From there we thought about the type of food that was lacking in restaurants and especially the food truck scene and we landed on Cajun. Matt and Louis have strong backgrounds in French cooking as well so it really made sense since so many of Cajun dishes incorporate French cooking techniques.
We use the website to advertise our menu as well as catering options. I think the most important feature is keeping an updated menu. Most people want to know what is available if they are going to make the trip to the truck. We don't use the website yet to post our schedule but hope to in the future. Without going into detail, the food truck parking scene is no joke and there are days where it can be hard to know where one will park. We post our locations for lunch both on Facebook and Twitter.
Everything. It's an emotional experience when you own your own business, you become invested in every aspect. However, if I have to pick one area that was the most difficult it was probably the initial startup and build of the truck. It seemed like it would never end despite being organized and doing everything in our power to move things along.
We are not from Louisiana so we were very cautious to pursue this style of cuisine and wanted respect the food while making it our own. This involved a lot of R&D and some trips to New Orleans. That being said, it's an overwhelming success when someone from the region compliments our food. We always create food that we hope pleases the masses but a compliment from a native is always the icing on the cake.
Matt knows the owner of the Fat Shallot from his days at Everest and he was lucky enough to work on the truck. He got to see first-hand what operation on a truck was like. His experience gave him a good foundation of where to begin the process and what to think about. They were and still are a helpful resource. There are so many details to think about with startup like insurance, propane, vendors, food cost, website, design, etc.
It's tough. Any cook or chef in the food industry already understands the demands of that world, and a truck is no exception, especially when you approach it with the intention to create everything from scratch like we do.
The gumbo! We went through many batches and minor changes to come up with a recipe that we feel best represents the dish.
Nicole! Throughout the entire startup process she was one of the best people that we worked with. She never missed a beat. We are still obsessed with the final design and could not be happier. I don’t even think we had to make any changes on the design option that we picked because it was so spot on, in fact we had a hard time picking from the options that she gave us because they all were so great!
June 21, 2016 | BY Nicole LaFave