We’ve known Stephen and his wife Mehgan back when we were all just starting to date, fall in love, and get married. Stephen is the type of guy who is always dreaming and coming up with new ideas for potential businesses. Over the last few years we’ve watched him pursue one of those dreams and that is owning his own food truck. Together, with his business partners, Stephen refinished an old box truck and started selling handheld pies. Based out of Stillwater, OK, Pie on the Fly sells delicious fruit and cream fried pies to a more savory variety for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Plus, who doesn’t just love that name?! Pie on the Fly! So perfect for a mobile food vendor selling handheld pies.
Q1) What inspired you to start your food truck vs. opening a restaurant?
When Alex and I were in our final semester studying entrepreneurship at OSU, we were on a business plan team attempting to prove the viability of retail expansion for a fried pie restaurant. Despite having proved viability, we were unable to find a bank willing to lend funds to a couple of college grads with no experience. We decided to go a route we could fund ourselves: a food truck. After taking on our third partner, Brady, we had enough funds and knowledge to build the truck ourselves.
Q2) How did you develop your menu? What attracted you to handheld pies?
During the summer of 2013, Alex, Brady, and I would spend our days from sun up to sun down building the truck. We would then spend our evenings developing recipes for dough and fillings from scratch. None of us grew up on fried pies; we just knew how much we liked them and that other people would too!
Q3) What is your favorite pie filling, why?!
We get this question very often. My response is always the same: “Our signature savory pie is the sausage mac & cheese. Our most popular dessert pie is apple because everyone loves apple. But what will really get you is the customer created PBCB: chocolate and banana cream inside and then covered with Reese’s peanut butter sauce when it comes out of the fryer.” Truthfully, my favorite is just cherry pie with a side of vanilla ice cream.
Q4) What has been the most challenging, and the most rewarding part about running a food truck?
The most challenging part of running the truck has been figuring out where our product sells. What we have discovered is our truck [product] does better at events and festivals than it does working day to day services. The next challenge is figuring out which events are worthwhile and which just make a lot of noise.
I would say there are three rewards I particularly enjoy about running our food truck. First, I get to see the successful operation of something we built ourselves from an empty box truck. Second, I get to pick the hours, services, and events I want to work. Third, food truckers are their own people and there is a culture among food truckers that is raw and exciting!
Q5) How do you balance working a lot of evenings and weekends while maintaining a healthy and happy marriage?
We have made our food truck a hang out spot. Mehgan has worked alongside me from the beginning doing services and making pies herself. Because of the new job I just took, Mehgan has actually been working more shifts in the truck than I have lately. There are a lot of days we don’t get a lot of time together, but we make sure that we take intentional time to catch up when we are around each other.
Q6) Who is the better food truck driver?
I am. I don’t think Alex or Brady would argue this either. If there is a tricky spot to be parked in, I’m the one that hops in the driver’s seat.
Q7) What has been the best promotional tool you’ve used to get the word out and drive traffic to your truck?
Social media such as Facebook and Twitter have been huge as you might expect. Beyond these, word of mouth has brought loads of people to our truck thanks to others who tried our pies and sent them our way. Finally, our big blue graphic wrap thanks to Mitch Johnson at Speedpro Texas has done wonders for being noticed everywhere we go.
Q8) When you get a night off, what does a typical Stephen & Mehgan date night look like?
We usually go for a stuffed crust pizza and a movie on the couch with the dogs. When we want to get crazy, we open up a bottle of wine for Mehgan and a good whiskey for me. Usually these nights end in us both turning in early to take advantage of the opportunity for some extra sleep.
I have been so excited to share with you all our first Food Truck as a Creatives Near You blog feature. Everyday I’m just amazed at all the forms creativity can take shape… like a fried pie of course!
Thanks Stephen for sharing a little bit of how you got started, lessons you’ve learned thus far, and how you and Mehgan find a healthy balance juggling it all! Wishing you all our best.
From The Farm
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