From a mobile kitchen in the back of a renovated Hostess truck, local business partners Andrew Tuchow and Andy O’Brien plan to bring healthy cuisine to the streets of Columbus.
Tuchow, who graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University last May with a degree in neuroscience and psychology, and O’Brien, a recent Ohio State graduate with a degree in food business and a minor in agricultural business, are set to open Kinetic, a food truck devoted to the principles of healthy eating and athleticism, April 1.
Tuchow and O’Brien said the premise behind Kinetic is to offer visitors a menu based on an athlete’s ideal diet, geared toward the health-conscious.
“(We originally wanted to create) a restaurant designed for athletes,” Tuchow said. “So like fueling your body before a workout, after a workout and really getting the maximum potential you can get from work and practices and everything that you do.”
Tuchow and O’Brien came together as business partners after “a decade plus” of friendship. O’Brien said the two went to the same elementary school and have been friends ever since.
“We’ve known each other for half of our lives,” Tuchow added.
The concept for Kinetic emerged after a lunch meeting between the two friends last March, Tuchow said.
“At the time, I (had) neat ideas for products and entrepreneurial ventures,” he said. “And one of Andy’s projects that he was working on at school was really related to one of the ideas that I had. They were both basically healthier eating, fast-casual dining restaurants or something (similar).”
O’Brien said the pair ultimately decided to invest in a food truck because of the lower overhead costs of owning a mobile kitchen compared to a traditional restaurant.
“Starting a restaurant (often) costs upwards of a million dollars, whereas the startup cost of a food truck is much lower,” he said. “It’s more obtainable for our circumstances, being recent college graduates.”
O’Brien also said owning and operating a food truck is financially a “lean business,” and with the money saved by operating with a smaller staff, Kinetic can afford to incorporate high-quality local ingredients into its dishes.
“Obviously, when you’re getting something that’s not just from a factory, it’s going to be a little more expensive,” O’Brien said of Kinetic’s use of locally-sourced ingredients. “But we’ve kind of built that into our business model.”
Tuchow and O’Brien said Kinetic’s menu is still a work in progress, but the truck is set to offer noodle, grain and salad bowls, as well as smoothies and snacks.
Customers have the opportunity to create their own combination bowls consisting of a base, protein and fresh vegetables. Other options include 20 pre-set bowls designed by O’Brien.
“I have a culinary background … I’ve worked in kitchens my whole life,” O’Brien said. “So I kind of know what goes well together.”
Some of Kinetic’s pre-set bowl combinations include a buffalo chicken bowl, a barbecue chicken bowl and a steak fajita bowl.
Tuchow and O’Brien said they plan on making the menu at Kinetic “accessible” to customers with specific eating habits and dietary restrictions, as several items at Kinetic are set to be gluten-free, lactose-free, vegetarian or vegan.
“I am kind of applying things I learned in the nutrition and food science classes I’ve taken,” O’Brien said. “I’ve just designed the menu with those kind of dietary restrictions in mind.”
Pricing on the prototype menu shows Kinetic’s bowls ranging from $7 for a chicken bowl to $8 for other proteins, like steak and tofu. Smoothies range from $4 to $6 for 16- and 32-ounce sizes, respectively.
Tuchow and O’Brien said they hope Kinetic’s menu encourages visitors to consider the fuel they put into their bodies.
“(Kinetic) is a word that to me inspires movement, like kinetic energy,” Tuchow said. “Our slogan, ‘What fuels you?’ kind of goes to that energy.”
Bailey Oliver, a second-year in marketing, said eating healthy food on campus can sometimes be a challenge.
“It’s really hard. Even the salads at the library cafes and stuff aren’t even that healthy,” she said.
Oliver said she would be willing to try Kinetic’s food, depending on the convenience of the truck location.
Justin Faulhaber, a first-year in history, said he would pay a visit to Kinetic after reading through the online menu.
“I feel like I would check it out,” he said. “The smoothies looked good.”
Although Kinetic is not slated to open until spring and details about where they plan to park their truck have yet to be hashed out, Tuchow and O’Brien are already looking toward the future.
“We have this spirit of ‘We’re young and we can do this,’” Tuchow said. “We have been meeting the right people and we want to take on this challenge.”
Like most food trucks, Kinetic’s daily location is set to be announced to followers via social media.
“(Kinetic) will kind of be around everywhere,” O’Brien said. “Really the only way to know (where we are each day) is to follow us on Twitter.”
Tuchow also said he hopes to expand Kinetic’s impact on the Columbus community by using “social media for social good.”
“Our generation likes to touch on social good and give back to the people around them and all of those good things,” he said. “We are so down-to-the-bone healthy and we’re doing it in such a unique way with local, farm-fresh (ingredients) and with the sustainability practices that we’ll be taking. I feel like that’s what sets us apart.”