Earlier in the week, you got to see a review of the food from Porchetta. As promised, we wanted to bring you the inside scoop for a different perspective. I got to sit down with Nicholas Crosson, one of the founders of Porchetta, for a one-on-one at their Southpoint Mall location.
Hi Nicholas. I’m Laney from The Triangle Review. Thanks for taking the time to meet with me today.
NC: Oh no, thank you!
So I’ve seen you all over the place over the last couple of years- first as the food truck and now here at the mall. How has that been?
NC: It’s been good. It’s been very nice. We’ve been here three months to the day today.
Wow! Three months flies by.
What have been the hardest and easiest things about transitioning to a brick and mortar?
NC: It’s nice to have more real estate, it’s nice to be one location. It’s nice to be able to have a place that people can find you without having to look at your Twitter feed and track you down. The harder things- well, again you’re starting a new business. Despite the trucking out there for years. A lot of people still don’t know who you are. You’ve got a whole new demographic out here, people who aren’t used to your type of food. You know, its’ kind of like opening up the truck all over again.
Is it just crazy hectic?
NC: Well, it’s not so bad because we both have [restaurant] experience behind us. So it’s just getting back in that mind frame.
Do you think you’re hitting a new customer base here at Southpoint?
NC: Oh, very much so! A lot of people had no idea we even existed. A lot of people who come here to the mall may not follow the local food truck scene. We talked about it being kind of like how the craft beer market was 6 or 7 years ago. You’ve got the major labels- the Chick-fil-A’s and China Max’s of the world- so we’re trying to break in as the new craft beer market did.
Well that’s nice that you’ve got American Meltdown coming in here too so you’re not trying to do this all by yourself!
NC: Yeah, that is so great that they tried to come out here and do this with us. It certainly helps to legitimize the move we’re trying to do out here and bring out some different food options. Especially in an area like Durham where there are so many good food options and amazing chefs.
Do you get your meat locally?
NC: Our meat comes out of South Carolina so its semi-local. We try to partner up with different farms and co-ops to keep it as local as possible and stay in our price point. Like right now, we’re partnered with Funny Girl Farms- we’re getting our eggplant, bell peppers, and sage from them. About 15-20% is local plus the produce options.
You’ve added the rotisserie and the beef sandwiches here that you can’t do on the truck. How’s that feedback?
NC: It’s been really good. There are a lot of transplants from Chicago in this area- more than I was expecting! So they see the Chicago beef and they’re like ‘Is it really Chicago beef?’ But they still come back and give us great feedback and order again so it’s nice to give a little taste of home.
Are you thinking about adding other items to the menu that aren’t on the trucks?
NC: We’re playing around with some different stuff and see some different seasonal things coming up and rotate. Maybe some brisket in the fall, maybe a little white bean pork chili in the wintertime. So well always try to have those rotating items to keep the menu fresh and new to keep the customer base and us excited.
And having the space must be nice to allow you to keep that creativity up?
NC: Yes. Exactly. From the truck side of things, because of the catering we were able to achieve the diversity things that a chef craves- for instance we have a company in Downtown Durham that we cater for every week and for them we do everything from Indian to Polish to whatever they ask for.
Wow! I saw the blackout on the website calendar for your catered events, but I didn’t realize you made different types of food as well.
NC: Yeah, it’s been really great!
So what’s the percentage of how you split your time between the truck, the mall, and catering?
NC: Southpoint is a higher volume and doing really well, but the truck is doing as well as ever. Granted with food trucks there is kind of a ceiling you hit because there are only so many sunny days and you can only pack so much food on there. So we’re kind of hitting that mark, which is part of why we wanted to open up this location at Southpoint. As far as the truck and catering are split- it’s about 50-50.
For the new customer that doesn’t know you yet and is just seeing you for the first time, what would you want them to know about you?
NC: Well, I would want…wow, that’s something no one has ever asked me before!
NC: I would want them to know that they can come to our place and get fantastic service, good quality food with a lot of heart and love and time put into it. They are able to try something different that you don’t find in North Carolina and that it is a pork experience that they don’t typically get around here.
Okay, last one: when you aren’t running a restaurant, food truck, and catering business, what are you doing what all of your free time?
NC: (Laughs) Oh yeah, you know, cause there’s so much of it! (Laughs) Honestly? Going out to eat and drinking great wine.