We caught up with Brody Jenkins, one half of Jo Bro’s, to see what it’s like running one of Auckland’s most popular food trucks.
Where did the Jo Bro’s idea come from and did you have any hospitality/chef experience?
I went on a few trips to the states, once a year for 3 years in a row and made sure to eat my way around LA, Vegas and Arizona. The majority of my meals being burgers, from all sorts of chains, small restaurants and gourmet burger joints. I was trying to figure out what made a great burger. I returned from my last trip and was part of the opening team that brought Andys Burgers & Bar at SkyCity from concept to completion. I was quietly working on a secret sauce that combined all the things I liked about different burgers in the US, into a one fits all sauce built for kiwis palate.
After that I worked at The Grove in St Patricks Square, which is where I met Josh. He was the head chef at the time and had previously spent seven years in London where he worked in the kitchens of a handful of Michelin-star restaurants. After a ‘very serious, all work, no play research’ trip to the states (and possibly making a quick stop to a 3 day music festival while in Vegas) I came up with a batshit crazy idea, to launch a burger food truck. A year or so later, over a frosty pint at the Shakespeare, just down the road from The Grove, I mentioned the idea to Josh, who replied: “Let’s f**g do it” and together we made the Jo Bro’s idea into reality. Not so crazy after all.
How long did it take from concept to execution?
We first sat down and went over the idea in November 2017 and registered the business. We bought the second hand trailer off trade me early 2018 and launched February 2019.
What is your favourite food truck – other than Jo Bro’s of course
That’s a hard one! We LOVE Peaches Chicken, but their trailer doesn’t make it out very often anymore as they’re super busy in their first retail store. Hapunan is definitely the next trailer to come to mind, yum! Aldrin’s always gives us a good laugh at events.
Had any famous customers over the years?
Not that I know of!
What’s been your biggest day/event and how many burgers did you pump out?
It would have to be the Mediaworks staff Christmas party last year. We did 300 burgers in just under 2 hours and sold out! Our biggest week would be at the Beer Spot Whangaparaoa, almost cracking 1,000.
What are the perks of running a food truck?
I think one of the main things is that it’s the most achievable way of starting your own business in hopso. The least investment, least risk and minimal overheads compared to opening a restaurant. The freedom of being out on the road, new places, new faces – it’s just a good time!
Marketing wise, you’re an advertisement on wheels and we’ve already spanned most of Auckland and beyond. Which is another thing you don’t achieve with a restaurant. Testing markets and getting a stronger following in certain areas, which is good to know before deciding to settle down in a retail store. You also get to attend most summer festivals and get to jump out into the crowd once you sell out (early)!
What are the challenges?
A lot of events are weather dependent, so sometimes this can affect revenue. Then there is the wastage, when you show up to an event expecting to sell 150, but sell 60 because it was pissing down in Auckland fashion.
The other is the lockdown! While restaurants can open in Level 2, public gatherings can’t happen with over groups of 10, so we’re still left with multiple cancellations and without work.
Advice for any budding food truckers out there?
Do it! The industry in my opinion is still very un-touched and the need for mobile vendors is only increasing. Make sure you have a strong brand and strategy from the beginning, a truly good product that’s tried and tested. Think big!