By Mindy Ragan Wood, Staff Writer – A family that decided to go into the food truck business last fall have doubled their business and their fun.
Debbie and Casey Cook with their daughter Katyln Cook had talked about opening a restaurant for years, but last July decided to see where a food truck might take them. They started Cook ‘n it Up and just seven months later they operate two trucks in the Yukon, Mustang, El Reno, and Oklahoma City metro area.
Debbie Cook credits their success so far with the variety on the menu.
“We strive to have something on the truck that almost anyone can find to eat. A lot of trucks specialize in a certain genre of food and they have five or six menu items for that style of food. If I go somewhere to serve lunch at a corporate location, I will have something most anyone would want to eat,” she said.
The menu is a collage of food genres. They serve street tacos, but customers can also satisfy their craving for Greek food or hot wings. There’s also fried chicken, waffles, Indian tacos, loaded tater tots, club salad and even a thick roast beef or Philly cheesesteak sandwich.
“We specialize in the waffles, almost any flavor and combination you can think of,” she said.
A waffle with chicken can be sweet or savory, even spicy. She also offers sweet raspberry with jalepeno sauce and whipped cream or wings with waffles smothered in Asian sweet chili sauce or BBQ sauce. Then, there’s Ranch, bacon, with fries or lettuce. The options are versatile to personal tastes. Customers can “build a waffle cone” with their choice of any meat, sauce, and topping. Those toppings aren’t limited to onions or cilantro but include the options of fried pickles, fried mushrooms, onion rings, fried green beans or even fried macaroni and cheese.
The versatile menu includes waffle desserts such as cookies-and-cream, tutti-frutti, toasted pecan and maple or a confetti waffle and all piled with whipped cream and toppings.
Almost all of the Cook’s business is serving a corporate clientele.
“I would say 75 percent is a corporate style or state agency,” she said. “The employees have a short lunch period, like 30 minutes and they can just come out and have their food in five to 10 minutes or less. We also let them text us their order and pick up when they want it ready. So, they still have at least 20 minutes left of their lunch hour. Some places we go once or twice a week and some places once or twice a month. There are some businesses that have food trucks or some type of catering for their employees every day,” she said.
So far, they have not set up at retail locations, but when the corporate world doesn’t keep them busy they frequent festivals and special events. The growth has been a dizzying pace, but one that Cook said they are happy to keep up with.
“It’s been a pretty rapid growth. We started out parking in a parking lot where my son works in El Reno, waiting for people to say, ‘hey there’s a food truck.’ We’d go out that morning and hand out menus to businesses and say, ‘hey come see us for lunch.’ Now we’re booked out six months in advance to different corporate locations. It took off quite a bit quicker than I expected it to,” she said.
The idea for a food business had long been in Debbie’s mind when her three children were growing up and having friends over. Debbie would cook often for the hungry teenagers.
“I’ve always loved to cook for people who like to eat. Being able to cook something and being able to see them enjoy it is very satisfying. We enjoy that. I love going to new locations. I think before I started doing the food truck I lived under a rock. I didn’t realize how much stuff was going on in the greater Oklahoma City area and in the community (Yukon) I live in. I realize we have a lot of stuff going on and I didn’t know about any of it,” she said.
Cook ‘n it Up will be in Hinton all day Saturday for the town’s annual street races and on Sunday they will be set up at the Devon Boathouse for the Gypsie Glam Made in Oklahoma show.