Mandy and Steven Smith, owners of the award-winning food truck Crock Spot, don’t have a typical story of falling into the food business. They never owned a restaurant. They didn’t go to culinary school. They didn’t work in the industry. In fact, Mandy was a life coach in San Francisco, and Steven was an actor and filmmaker, living in New York City, with a hidden passion for creating slow cooked dishes.

The two, who grew up in Northern Idaho, hadn’t spoken to each other since grade school. That is until the familiar ‘People You May Know‘ Facebook reminder popped up on their news feed. What started as a coy ‘friend request’ slowly blossomed into an undeniable connection and eventually, love.

Mandy and Steven Smith

So Mandy and Steven left their big city gigs and relocated to the Mile High City in 2009 to start a life together. She fell not only for him, but his cooking and an idea was born.

The next eight months were spent perfecting their technique using slow cooked grains and meats and finalizing a menu to help launch Crock Spot.

Today, Crock Spot is not only recognized as one of the best food trucks in Denver by 5280 magazine, it was nominated by the Food Network as one of the best in America. We sat down with Co-owner, Mandy Smith, to learn what took this concept from an idea to a money-making business.

How did you get your idea off the ground? 

We started out pretty lean with a tent and mobile kitchen, making the occasional appearances at farmer’s markets. We were both unemployed at the time and didn’t want to sink too much capital into our business yet.

Crock Spot foodWhen did you realize Crock Spot was going to be successful?

We knew it was going to do well the first summer. Our lines grew longer and we had several people asking where they could find us daily. We got funding and purchased a truck about a year later – in 2011 – and started working on the licensing and design. We were one of the original food trucks to hit Denver and luckily got in before the ‘food truck craze’ really took off.

Why do you think Crock Spot is so popular?

Well, our food is unique. You don’t see a lot of restaurants or food trucks doing slow cooked cuisine. It’s also delicious and more importantly, healthy. People also really like the “build-a-bowl” concept.

What’s next for Crock Spot?

Right now, we’re working on getting a restaurant opened. It takes time and we’re still trying to find the right location. We’re also discussing launching another food truck that can cater to more mountain events.

What’s your biggest piece of advice for those wanting to start a business?

Before you decide to jump into any business, be sure you’re really passionate about it. If you’re treating it like a hobby, that’s all it will ever be.

 

FirstBank’s mission is to help businesses get big. It’s one of the reasons we advertise customers on billboards and feature them on our blog. In the spirit of our Food Truck Friday customer appreciation program, where every Friday until August 5, customers can get free a lunch, we’re highlighting FirstBank customer and Food Truck Friday participant, Crock Spot.

See participating locations below. First come, first serve while supplies last. Customers must present their ID and FirstBank debit/credit card to receive a free lunch and drink.

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