This past week has been nothing short of a roller coaster, but a genuine highlight was the opportunity to sit down (virtually!) with Evan, the co-owner of Señor Sisig. We discussed their milestone 10-year anniversary, the steps it took to get to where they are today, advice for up-and-coming food entrepreneurs, and ways to support Señor Sisig’s small business through this rocky time.
Tell us about your business and how you got started in the industry?
Señor Sisig was formed in 2010. It was a time after the recession where we all began to think creatively about our careers—I had recently gotten my MBA and was creating music. While in LA for a show, on the way to soundcheck we stopped by Roy Choi’s Kogi Korean taco truck. The food was delicious and there was a herd of people willing to wait for it. This is where my inspiration came from. I called up my good friend Gil Payumo, an experienced chef and now co-owner of Señor Sisig, and we put together our menu and food truck concept.
How long have you been working with Off the Grid?
We have been with Off the Grid since the beginning. When we first started, there were only 3 food trucks at Fort Mason Center.
How have you seen Off the Grid change over the past 10 years?
When we first started, food trucks weren’t offering many different cuisines. You typically only saw Mexican food trucks, but then through 2013, with the legislation that Off the Grid helped create and the influence of social media, more opportunity opened for the diversity of cuisines. Now you can see a wide variety of food options at Off the Grid’s events.
What advice would you offer to someone just starting out in the mobile food business?
If COVID-19 wasn’t happening, and you’re interested in the food industry, I’d tell you that being in the food truck industry has its perks. There is lower investment, high mobility, and the ability to easily test to see where your product fits and ideate on menu items. But it’s key to set brand goals and see if a food truck aligns with where you want to be in the future before diving in.
What was your goal when Senor Sisig came to fruition?
When we started, our initial goal was to create a brand that fits in a food truck. As the initial truck became more popular we created more trucks. Within the first few years, we already had 5 trucks. It was crazy. Once we got to 6 trucks and five years into the business, we began to consider opening a brick and mortar restaurant. But we wanted to make sure it was the right timing, right location, and right vibe. It took us 9 years to ultimately pull off the bandaid and find the right location.
What defines your long-term success?
Over the years our view of success has changed with age and experience. But ultimately at the core, it has been to find something that you feel good and passionate about at that moment. What makes me feel good has changed over the past 10 years, but throughout this experience, I have always found ways to work on something that I have loved.
What’s the biggest obstacle to your business’s success?
When we first started there were laws that prevented us and made it difficult for us to serve, which is the reason why Off the Grid was formed in the beginning, to help change legislation and provide food trucks with locations to serve.
With the growth of a business, such as adding trucks, there are always difficulties, but we have been lucky to hire people we trust, which has allowed us to focus our efforts.
Of course, the current situation around Coronavirus is affecting us like nothing we have ever experienced before. It has truly tested me as an owner. We have stopped operations on our trucks, and are solely operating our restaurant for takeout and delivery, as it is a hybrid residential district with higher traffic. We are currently looking into places where we can put our trucks that are in mass residential areas, as we want to continue to feed those in need, including those who are of low income. We need to support our many local contractors. For instance, with our trucks not operating currently, we no longer have a role for the person who cleans our trucks daily. We want to be able to change that.
What excites you most about the mobile food industry and where it’s headed?
I have always had a fascination with food. To explore that interest further, I did a bunch of research into the food industry, and have noticed that the industry has up and downs like waves. What we are experiencing now is one of those waves. From the evolving Coronavirus situation, we are able to see that mobile food could be the hero in the situation, as we’re agile and are able to move to places that have lack of food availability. But to do this we need legislation to support these changes and adapt. From our recent experiences with the North Bay wildfires and Coronavirus, it’s becoming apparent that we need to create a plan for the future on how mobile food can be utilized properly during a crisis.
How can our community support you during this troubling time?
Customers can go to order.senorsisig.com to place an order for pick up or delivery. We’re currently delivering in San Francisco, but will soon be delivering from Oakland to Alameda, as well. People can also support through e-gift cards, that can be used for future purchases. We also hope everyone will stay tuned for brand new 10-year merch that will be rolled out in the coming weeks.
Authored By: Samantha Pann, Marketing Specialist Off the Grid