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Off The Grill Food Truck: A Young Entrepreneur With Big Dreams

Adrian Padilla was born and raised in El Paso Texas, and ever since he can remember, his family revolved around BBQ's, tacos and good food. At a very early age he watched his dad mow the lawn and not only learned how to make his backyard look perfect, but he also began to work his neighbors, aunts, and grandfathers' yards. At the age of 16, Padilla started working at a local restaurant and the relationships created during that time impacted his professional career forever. He realized that his love for food and strong work ethic could be tied together and at the young age of 17 he decided he wanted to open up a business in the food industry. His dream of owning and operating a restaurant, his determination, passion but no funding forced him to look for a feasible alternative and together with the help of his family, concluded that a food truck would be the best one.

After two weeks he knew he had found his food truck and with only ten dollars to his name, he was determined to get the truck to drive home and launch his business. Padilla took a leap of faith and talked to the gentleman selling the food truck with a sincere enthusiasm for what he wanted to do, resulting in the seller allowing him to take the food truck with ten dollars down payment and the rest installments.

Off the Grill Food Truck is a full-scale kitchen on wheels which started its operations in November 2013 with a vision to change the concept of the typical lunch truck. They specialize in quality barbecue meats such as brisket, chicken, pulled pork, sausage, fresh hot fries, and beverages.

"We knocked on a lot of doors to find a good place to park, the roads that we were allowed to park where not accessible to prospective clients, and people don't want to walk. We now fundraise with the schools, but that took a lot of work to get them to be open-minded about the food truck since they were very hesitant to allow us to park at first but once they saw it worked, then the other schools opened up as well." Said Delia Guerra, Padilla's mother.

The food service industry is particularly challenging, as customers expect good food at a reasonable price, excellent customer service, and a pleasant environment. Padilla realizes that the reputation of the business is only as good as the impression made by the customers overall experience. Add to said challenges a fast-growing company, the costs associated with expanding and increasing the services provided; the business struggled on occasions as financing for every event also became an issue for the young entrepreneur. He says "We would have to pay a fee to rent the space at a particular event to do business as well as buying the goods and any required equipment, but it could take the people hiring us from two to four weeks to pay us for the catering service. We took out personal loans to be able to get through. In the beginning, it was hard to get the funding for those big events."

Padilla went to the Women's Business Border Center for business counseling. He also took advantage of the business plan assistance and financial guidance that would eventually help him grow his business.

Being a successful food truck owner takes passion, hard work, skill, a business mind and, in some cases, luck. You have to have the right location, you have to set up the proper catering gigs, you have to venture to the right food truck events, and you have to know how to market your business which at such an early age, Padilla has been able to do.

Off the Grill has been rewarded with Best of the Border 2013 Best Food Truck, Best of the Border 2014 Best BBQ, and 2014 Mobile Cuisine's Best BBQ Food Truck in the Nation. It found a niche by offering a unique catering option for businesses and private parties alike. By 2015, they expanded by opening a second truck for events. It has been the recipient for the fourth year in a row of The El Paso Time's Best of the Border – Best Catering Award, and in 2017 they were named Best Food Truck in local El Paso magazine "The City." He recently won the SBA El Paso District Office 2017 Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.

They have officially opened their third and permanent trailer at El Paso Community College Valle Verde Campus which offers a permanent location for returning customers. Adrian has driven Off the Grill Food Truck to the next level by looking for innovative methods to provide an excellent customer service and by working tirelessly to change the perception of food trucks from "lunch trucks" to a fresh and hip mobile caterer and is now looking to open a brick and mortar location in the near future.

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