FREDERICTON – It’s summer, which means it’s food truck season! At Huddle, we like to keep our readers up to date with all the good food traveling around the province. In this installment, the spotlight is on JPM Canteen and Dairy Bar.
We chatted with Jeff and Michelle McCoy, the owner and manager, about their 34 ice-cream flavour options, their menu’s best seller and more.:
How did this get started?
Michelle: The business kind of got started over just an idea we had over the winter. We’d seen little canteens for sale on Kijiji and that’s pretty much how the canteen got started. We bought that and started that. Our food trailer came two years later and that was just kind of an idea to be able to go to events and that sort of thing. So, not much more to it than that, I don’t think.
Before that, what were you doing?
Michelle: We had a restaurant before we had the canteen.
Jeff: I had a trucking company and a tow truck company.
How long have you been in business?
Michelle: The canteen? This is our sixth year.
How would you describe what you serve? Where did the inspiration come from?
Michelle: We serve fish and chips, homemade hand-cut fries, hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken. We have lots of ice-cream, 34 flavours, onion rings. Where did that come from? Well, actually, the inspiration was kind of between both of us. Jeff always wanted to get into the food industry. It so happened when him and I met when we first got together, I knew a lot about the food industry because I had done it my whole life. So we just kind of put our heads together and decided we were going to go into it together and this is where we are today.
You have both the food truck and the canteen. What would you say are some of the unique challenges of working in a food truck rather than a traditional restaurant?
Michelle: I think the challenges are pretty similar, really. Staff is always a challenge, which is a challenge in a restaurant as well. I guess the pace of staff in a restaurant, which makes it a little more challenging, you have to be very fast. I don’t know what else. Not a whole lot of difference between that and a restaurant. Just the pace, and things like that.
Which one do you find more enjoyable, the canteen or the food truck?
Michelle: I find both the same. I enjoy the canteen but I enjoy the food truck as well too because you get to meet new people and go to new places.
What was about this sort of business that made you want to be involved in it?
Michelle: I’ve been doing it since I was 12 years old. My best friend growing up, her grandfather owned a restaurant here in town [Fredericton], and I got my very first job bussing tables and I fell in love with the restaurant business from there.
Do you find people respond well to the food truck on this area?
Michelle: Oh, very much. We have a lot of loyal customers.
Is there a special thing on the menu that customers ask for a lot?
Michelle: Our McCoy burger. We have it in the food truck as well, it’s probably our most popular seller. It’s the only thing we have that other restaurants don’t have.
What are your plans for the future?
Michelle: We may be expanding next year, we are not sure yet. That’s kind of under wraps right now. I can’t tell a whole lot about that. We usually do something little different every year, add something to our menu, that kind of thing. But, I guess you’ll kind of have to wait and see next year.
Is there anything else you’d like people to know?
Michelle: Just to let you know that I have the best staff there is. That should be written in there. I have wonderful staff, my girls are great, they are very loyal, very friendly, that’s why our business is as good as it is, because we have such great staff.