Matt – AKA Mr Woozy, started the Woozy Pig for his love and passion for Street Food.
The Cheltenham based business offers a range of Fully Loaded Hot Dogs, to Pizzas, Low & Slow Pulled Meat Baps, Dirty Burgers, Loaded Fries, Hog Roasts and awesome BBQ’s. We caught up with Matt to find out how he’s found the last few months and what’s in store for the business in 2021.
Hi Matt, thanks so much for checking in with us. So, what inspired you to set up The Woozy Pig?
The name ‘The Woozy Pig’ came after a boozy day out at one of our local food festivals ‘The Cheltenham Food Festival’ with a couple of our best mates. I love going to festivals, and for me, the food was almost as important as the bands playing. I would always be looking at the food trucks trying to find something I hadn’t had before. I had always talked about getting back into the food game, and after being made redundant from an office job, and having previously trained as a chef after leaving school, I made the decision to start a street food business.
You were doing a lot of events before Covid-19, what was your reaction when it was clear that we were going into a nationwide lockdown?
So we were pretty much fully booked for events during 2020, and not only that, I had also (pretty much a couple of weeks before national lockdown) purchased our new airstream style food truck which I was super excited about and really looking forward to showcasing at our events. So as soon as the news was confirmed that a nationwide lockdown was imminent, I felt pretty deflated and a little panicked. I think that if I had known what was going to happen, I probably wouldn’t have bought the new truck as its been a big investment for us, but I’ve always been quite a positive person and didn’t let it knock me down, I just knew that we would need to adapt.
How did you go about adapting?
We were pretty quick to adapting and operating as a delivery service during the first lockdown. I knew that The Woozy Pig wasn’t sustainable as a business with all events cancelled and having no other income, so I quickly looked at operating a ‘re-heat at home’ delivery service, whereby I set up a website to sell some of our most popular ‘street food’ offerings to be easily re-heated, and enjoyed at home via a contact free delivery service. This has been, so far only a local offering, and we have been limiting it to around 100 – 120 local addresses that we can manage, but the demand has been overwhelming, so much so that we had to invested in commercial smokers and extra fridge / freezers to cope with demand, and we have had to ‘sell out / cap’ orders every week we offered it through lockdown. It’s felt pretty amazing to have the support from everyone that’s ordered, and I feel that we have done something completely different to what we are used to doing, and come out ‘the other side’ of it positively, and even with another potential perspective of how The Woozy Pig could operate in the future.
What’s next for the business in 2021?
We are really outgrowing our prep space at our home kitchen being a street food trader, so will be looking to some sort of space to call our own that we can hopefully also operate a take-out service from. I’m also hoping we can pick up where we left off at the start of March 2020…. we are only in our third year of trading and this year I was looking forward to doing some slightly larger festivals. We have a really cool jazz festival in Cheltenham that happens every year which I have always wanted to trade at. This year, we were luckily invited to trade, but it was one of the first festivals to cancel because of COVID-19 as its always during the first weekend of May. We have had contact from them that they are hoping to put on the festival next year, but not yet sure at what capacity. I’m hoping we can do this, as well as some of the other larger events we were planning to do this year. Also got a few other ideas planned to turn ‘The Woozy Pig’ into a bit more of a brand, so watch this space.
What’s your favourite thing about working in the catering industry?
Definitely the people you meet on the job. The thing I love the most about it is meeting other traders at events and getting to try their food. Also all the customers you meet, especially the ones that have travelled just to try your food, and then also the working environments. We do a lot of brewery pop-ups so would say that we also get to try a lot of different beers…although its not all about the beers! A lot of the time it’s the atmosphere that’s created at these events and the buzz you get off others enjoying your food, especially when it’s something you’ve worked so hard to showcase and that you’re passionate about.
What advice would you give to those dreaming of starting up their own street food business?
Probably my biggest piece of advice would be to try and be adaptable to both change, but also your offering. I started out thinking I was going to offer homemade sausages, freshly cooked flat breads and an awesome stew, which developed into hog roasts, loaded hotdogs, epic BBQ’s, dirty burgers, pizzas, loaded fries, smoked / pulled meats ect… the list goes on, but its meant that we have been able to attend lots of different events offering lots of different options.
Also, be prepared to work hard. It’s not as easy as it ‘sometimes’ looks. It’s long hours, hard work, and some events won’t always go your way, but I think if you are passionate enough about it, and do what you offer well and use the best ingredients you can find, then there is no reason why you wont succeed.
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