Food trucks are taking the country by storm, and for a good reason. Food trucks have always been an affordable and quick way to grab some lunch on the go. So it’s no surprise that in our home of Washington, DC, food trucks appeal to the hard-working senators on the hill or business men and women working tirelessly for NGOs and non-profits.
But DC also has a hungry college student audience that is a food truck’s life and blood. That’s the audience the Swizzler boys count on for most of their business. Hopping between Catholic, George Washington University and Georgetown University leaves them with a pretty strong college student following.
I got to spend my day with them to get an inside look at what it’s like to run a food truck.
When the three founding men of Swizzler, Ben, Jack and Jesse were offered the opportunity by a professor to come up with an idea to take the campus by storm, they came up with the concept of a food truck using hot dogs that had been “swizzled” (cut in a spiral fashion in order to get more surface area while cooking).
Their idea was a hit, and ever since then they have been cranking out uber fresh grass-fed beef Swizzler dogs in the nation’s capital.
First of all, these guys have it down. They made running a food truck with lines of famished customers look easy. And while they were preparing the food, they comfortably held conversation with me. Besides being generally friendly and cool guys, their business model was impressive.
With a few token hot dogs on their menu, like the Leonardo-dog-Vinci and a few secret menu items that fans have grown to love, they had a great turn-out from Georgetown students on a Monday afternoon.
What makes the Swizzler boys so memorable is the way they interact with their following. They’re young and fresh out of college so marketing their product to college students seems natural.
Jesse, Jack and Paul even recognized some of the students’ faces and asked them how school was going. Each student was excited to fill us in on their midterms stress. Jesse even cracked a joke at a stressed-out student wearing flip flops and shorts in the unseasonably warm February weather.
It soon became obvious to me that besides their incredibly well-thought out hot dog flavors, their connection to their following was something super special. Their wit, charm and friendliness is infectious and will definitely have me coming back for more.
But most importantly– the food is to die for. I got to sample their incredibly popular Leonardo-dog-Vinci, which lived up to the hype. The juicy grape tomatoes and fresh mozzarella complimented the savory basil pesto and sweet balsamic glaze perfectly. The hot dog itself was seasoned to perfection and although it could stand out on its own, I’m glad I had all the extra toppings.
I also tried their spin on the classic Chicago dog, the Abe Froman. Since I’m from Chicago, I was skeptical about how their take on my city’s classic would pan out. I might even say that I liked the Abe Froman better than the classic. They fry their pickles and coat them in celery salt which was an experience in and of itself.
But if you’re really looking to indulge, their truffle parmesan fries with their special Swizzler sauce is out of this world. I hope they start selling the sauce by the bottle because I would like to put it on everything.
Overall, my day with the Swizzler boys was incredibly fun, but most of all, educational. Running a food truck is hard work, but it’s important to remember that friends and a sense of community is the most important.
If you have a good product but no one to sell it to, then you’re out of luck. Fortunately the dudes at Swizzler have outstanding dogs, lovely personalities and a following that every food truck should strive to create for themselves.