The tale of I ❤️ Bacon Food Truck starts long ago when Keith Hill and Josh Patrick were vibrant young men. They met as young DJs, performing in dance clubs in Muscle Shoals, AL. Not long after their introduction by a mutual DJ friend, they began working together and became fast friends. After late nights spent in Muscle Shoals recording studios and parties, the two began partnering on small concerts and business ventures. At this point, they felt like old friends and their personalities meshed well for conducting business.
Fast forward a few years, Josh graduates college and moves to Birmingham and Keith moves back to Huntsville, both continue evolving their respective careers as nightclub promoters and DJs. Keith moves into concert touring and production and Josh becomes interested in the restaurant business and signs up for culinary school at Culinard in Birmingham.
It's 2011, Josh has graduated culinary school, has worked in fine dining under notable regional chefs, gotten married, moved to Phoenix, AZ and has taken a job as The JW Marriott Resort's sushi chef in Scottsdale. Keith is out touring the country with rock band, 311 and falls in love with the food truck culture in New York City, Orlando, Portland, Austin, and California. Keith & Josh keep in touch regularly and slowly their conversations start revolving mostly around food trends. They spend a year or so sending random text messages to each other, sometimes in the middle of the night, about what groundbreaking item "this chef" or "that chef" is doing. Both fellows have started to stash away what little money they could save for a rainy day. Their conversations progressively transcend into a never-ending barrage of "what if?" scenarios.
2013 rolls around and Josh calls Keith with bad news, "Well buddy, looks I'm getting a divorce," he says. After the conversation, Josh tells Keith that he's going on somewhat of a sabbatical to find a new path for his life. He sells his home in Phoenix, sends his stuff home to Florence, Alabama in a U-Haul, packs his camping gear up into his car, and heads for the mountains and national parks of the American West. Josh spends nearly a month camping, hiking, exploring, and photographing while he ponders the fork in the road. Keith is quietly constructing a makeshift blueprint and concept, for something he believes will never take shape.
As he sits atop a ridge line in the last stop of his journey, Canyonlands National Park in Utah, Josh's phone interrupts the silence. Keith is on the other end and simply says, "Hey man.. come home to Alabama and let's start this damn food truck! How does 'I Love Bacon' sound?" he asks. Josh pauses and ponders for a minute, wondering what Keith is getting him into this time.. after a couple minutes of quiet, he replies "I'll be home in a week. Let's get started."
While waiting for Josh's return, Keith begins scouring the internet for trucks and finds an old beater ex nacho truck in Atlanta that's not quite within their shoestring budget. When Josh returns home, Keith has made the phone calls and scheduled the trip to take a look at this "old beater." They pool every bit of cash they have and road trip to Atlanta.
Having their first look at the truck they realize it needs A LOT of work. The duo leaves the truck to have lunch and discuss the pros and cons of the deal. They come to an agreement that if the couple, who is looking to offload their burden, agrees to their extremely lowball offer, this has the potential and is "the one." Surprisingly, the couple accepts their budget offer and now Keith and Josh have to figure out how to get "old beater" home to Huntsville. The Bacon Brothers make a deal to leave the truck there for a week or two to decide how to approach transporting their new baby. Then, after taking bids on transporting, the guys realize that they have blown their budget on the purchase and if they pay to tow it, they don't have money to buy food to sell when they do get it home. After some discussion, Josh's dad agrees to tag along over to Atlanta and follow Josh home in "old beater." After a long and slow drive full of rattles, bangs, creaks, squeals, and steadily dimming headlights due to a faulty alternator... Josh pulls up in their new "old beater," beaming with pride, right as the battery goes completely dead. Now it's time to get to work.
The boys immediately tear into "old beater" out back of one of their friend's nightclub, who's nice enough to let them store their hunk of junk. Josh and Keith dismantle the entire truck's interior and deep clean everything, which was LONG OVERDUE. Weeks of running new power, replacing plumbing, cleaning and replacing broken kitchen equipment take it's toll, but they steam ahead. Now, it's time for the graphic wrap and after getting quotes from every sign shop in town, they realize that they can't afford this either. They tell themselves, "But, the full color wrap is what gives a truck it's credibility and personality and we absolutely can't go without it!" They decide to do it themselves, which seems simple enough, especially since neither of the two had ever done it...
It's now the middle of winter and they need to be ready for spring. They cant afford to have the truck wrapped, nor do they have a facility large enough to do it. Last minute, in steps another friend, owners of the largely famous Chuckwagon BBQ offer up some space in their warehouse for the boys to use and tackle their feat. The wrap gets printed by the lowest bidder and they get to work on this impossibly difficult task. After a few reprints & what seems like 2 months of working until 3 am, the wrap is finally complete. To this day, Keith still asks "Do you know why it costs so much to have a vehicle wrapped?" His reply,"Because it's worth every single penny!"
The truck is now wrapped, insured, permitted, and ready to work! They boys start relentlessly hounding all of their other friends that own other businesses, "Please let us set up outside!" Reluctantly, some do and it slowly starts to gain popularity. The social media likes and comments start to climb. Day after day, the hype builds little by little and people on the street are overheard talking about "bacon truck." Shortly after, they receive an email asking if they want to take part in the newly forming food truck rallies in Downtown Huntsville. "Here we go! We've arrived!," Keith texts to Josh. Then, on a drive across town on the day of the 1st food truck rally, the truck breaks down. Defeated was the feeling, all around. Luckily, the truck was invited back to the next rally, but they realized they needed help. Help once again came in the form of a friend. Sammy, the owner of the nightclub they still spun records at, showed up at the last moment and got a brief rundown on how the iPad POS credit card system worked, all while staring down a line of what seemed like 5000 hungry people. The boys asked themselves aloud if they had any idea what they were doing. All replied with a resounding "NO!" Then, after downing a few bottled waters, they opened the window to the hot June sun. After a whirlwind of 45 minute ticket times, orders full of errors, piles of paper tickets at their feet, food scraps on all surfaces, and dehydrated exhaustion; Keith & Josh realized that this was the hardest money they had ever earned in their lives and wondered if it was worth it. After the chaos wound down and their heart rates decreased, they realized how rewarding it all felt. The love and enthusiasm from the customers, the votes of confidence from their friends and colleagues, and the positive feedback made it all worthwhile and they decided that this was their new path, however stressful it may be.
After 4 summers and basically very little money in their pockets, the boys are still at it and "old beater" is still on the road. Truck number 2 is in the plans and hopefully, one day, a restaurant is in the cards. The story of I ❤️ Bacon is still being written, chapter by chapter. Stay tuned for what's next!