Phoenix is home to a wide array of food trucks; these are their stories. To read the last installment of the Phoenix Food Trucks series,
Operating out of a truck the color of pure barbecue sauce, up-and-coming Q UP! BBQ brings an element of family values to the Phoenix Food Truck Coalition.
Owner and chef Devin Clough works with his 12-year-old daughter in the kitchen. His wife, Kat Clough, and 8-year-old son take orders up front on Friday afternoons at the food-truck event in front of the Phoenix New Times’ building.
“People love to see a family business,” Devin Clough, 33, said. “Sometimes it’s stressful but we work well together.”
The menu offers three different meat options — chicken, pork or ribs. Tacos, nachos and brisket are also common items on the menu, but Clough likes to keep things interesting. Coleslaw is often served as a side to most entrees, but the new mac and cheese balls, a scoop of macaroni and cheese deep-fried with bacon, are scheduled to make an appearance soon.
Following the food truck-norm, Q UP! keeps its prices reasonable. The truck offers $2 tasters, which are the smaller street tacos, and a $12 three-meat barbecue plate. Clough said that most of the items are shareable and a customer will never be hungry afterward.
Clough welcomes the freedom allowed in the food-truck business and sees this as a chance to get his feet wet in the industry.
At the age of 21, Clough found a hobby that would eventually turn into a career. Once he started cooking for himself, he realized he not only loved it but also was good at it. With no formal training, Clough aims to serve food the way he likes it — fresh.
One of the newer practices Clough brings to events is his smoking technique. This self-taught trade was learned after researching different websites and gaining inspiration from bigger barbecue cities around the country. Cities such as Memphis and Dallas have such a large barbecue presence that Clough hopes to replicate in Phoenix.
Through trial and error, Clough wants to “blow people away” with his combination cooking style that he affectionately calls “AZ style.”
Q UP! even impresses customers on a national level. Arup urban planner Darby Watson — in town on business — stopped by the Public Market Wednesday evening to see what Phoenix food trucks had to offer.
Watson, a 42-year-old Seattle native, commented on the variety of trucks offered and compared the selection to her hometown’s fascination with dessert.
“Seattle is more into dessert with cupcakes, doughnuts and ice-cream trucks,” she said.
Watson stopped by Q UP! and ordered a two-taco combo with coleslaw and a Sprite.
New to the food-truck crowd, Q UP! began their journey in January. Purchasing the truck in Miami, Clough saw the investment as a cross-country road trip opportunity with his son.
The truck did not necessarily come with cross-country trekking recommendations but it is fully equipped to handle their cooking needs. And it was an experience Clough and his son will have for years to come.
With hopes of owning his own restaurant someday, Clough strives to make the most out of this experience in order to prepare for the future.
Even if the Clough family is not on the road traveling to events, there is always something to do for the truck. From cleaning to menu altering, managing social media to working on event applications, Clough’s business requires time and energy.
But Clough does not see his business as work.
“It’s fun. I love to do it, and most of all I want it to be successful,” he said.
Financially speaking, Q UP! is doing well for their third month in business, Clough said. On Food Truck Fridays, they average around $800 in a two-hour span. What really sells the product is their speedy ticket time.
“It comes down to what you’re serving and how quick you can get it out,” Clough said. “But one thing you don’t want to compromise is the food.”
Preparing before events is what saves most of the time when “cranking out” food from the truck. Surprisingly, the smaller stuff like the coleslaw takes the most time.
The coleslaw is served on an individual basis and prepping can take anywhere from one or two hours to four days depending on the event. Clough also smokes meat daily so it is moist and ready to pull. He prides himself in serving fresh food.
Kat Clough, 37, sees all of their hard work as groundwork for their future. Dreams to open up their own restaurant don’t seem far away when there is an end goal in mind.
“We’re just setting little goals to get to the big goals,” she said.
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