On Wednesday, in conjunction with Entrepreneur Week, Texas Wesleyan held TXWES Foodie Fest, featuring a food trucks, a panel discussion, and food sampling.
The event took place at the recently completed Nick and Lou Martin Center; in an upstairs ballroom, a food entrepreneur panel discussion took place with chef Ben Merritt, owner of Fixture and Ben’s Triple B’s. Merritt has won the TV shows “Iron Chef” and “Chopped!”
During the discussion, which drew about six people, Merritt talked on a variety of topics; he started by discussing how he became his own boss at age 12 by mowing neighbors’ yards $20 per yard.
“It feels great, because all that reward goes right in your pocket and that is where it really started for me,” Merritt said.
One of the hardest parts of running a restaurant is the ability to have a steady flow of patrons coming through the door for lunch and dinner, he said.
“You have to have them come in about five times before you can reel them in as a regular patron, so it takes some work,” he said.
The three food trucks were outside the Martin Center and included a variety of small business entrepreneurs selling food ranging from wings to burgers to beignets to pickled vegetables.
Wearing a Viking helmet, Andrew Chadwick, with Thanecrafted, was selling hand-crafted pickled products and salsa. He said he loves being a chef in a local restaurant and doing things his way to raise extra money; he hopes to have his own place one day.
“We started this year and are growing and trying every opportunity we can find and just see where we fit best in the market place, but hope to be in local stores in the near future,” Chadwick said.
The food truck Reed’s Wings was created by Michael Reed of Crossroads Christian Church, who said he uses food as part of a ministry to help spread the love of Jesus.
“You have to feed the people before they will ever listen to you,” Reed said.
He said that the wristband that comes with every order is a reminder of the love Jesus has for them. While nobody has been “saved” yet, he hopes it will happen one day.
Merritt said that starting in the restaurant business was a dream and a struggle. He had wanted to have a food truck so he could have the public sample different menu items to see which ones were more popular, but this did not make financial sense.
“My goal is to one day own that little strip across the street and have the ability to rent it out to people wanting to start out just as I have been able to do. We will just have to wait and see,” he said.