Head to Banbury Road in the historic city of Oxford and you’ll be sure to come across one of those old school diners made famous in American movies where Teddy Boys and truckers alike hung out during breaks.
If the smell of barbecued meat wafting down the street alone doesn’t entice you in, the trendy bar setup consisting of an old American classic car and bright LED lights echoing scenes of diner stop-offs down Route 66 surely will.
Malcolm Moore teamed up with his business partner Thomas Trinder to launch Burnout BBQ Catering in December 2018 following a 12-year career in the Royal Air Force. Tom already owned a café of his own but wanted to branch out and undertake new ventures within the hospitality industry, hence the career move into event catering and diner ownership.
Their Oxford based diner is the result of years of hard work taking their Classic Ford 1952 pick-up truck – which they transformed into a mobile catering vehicle – to events and festivals around the country, serving up traditional American barbecue classics such as ribs, hot dogs, brisket, pulled pork, burgers and mac ‘n’ cheese to hungry festival goers.
The duo always harboured a deep love of barbecuing and cars and so the decision to snap up a classic pick-up and get to work on transforming it into a workable kitchen was an easy one, allowing them to combine their two passions in life and utilise it to make a living in a way in which they both enjoyed. The Ford always acts as a centre piece when they arrive at events, and it is for this reason that they’re asked time and time again to cater at car events.
“The truck draws a lot of people in and our food is big, messy and filling,” says Malcolm. “We’re delivering a menu that people might not want at a one-day rave festival.” Festival goers could be forgiven for thinking they’d been transported from a rainy field in England to the deep south of America once the aromas of smoked meats, pit beans and buttered corn hit your nostrils.
Everything on the menu is smoked in-house, from the ribs to the burnt ends, and their dedication to detail is what attracts many customers back time and time again.
Like any hospitality business out there, the Covid pandemic brought with it a unique set of challenges that the boys at Burnout BBQ had to endure. Like many of our members, Malcolm and Tom turned to takeaway to make up for the cancellation of so many events, and fortunately their setup enabled them to stay open by offering Burnout BBQ Boxes for collection or delivery.
“The return of events has been great. We definitely missed them, but thankfully we managed to do a lot through Covid by setting up the takeaway side of the business and opening the diner.
“The operational side of our business has definitely changed this year; whereas before we used to run things together, now one of us has to run the diner and the other focuses on the events side of things. It’s now very much like owning two separate businesses, but we always consult each other when it comes to the big decisions such as changing up the menu or taking on more staff.
“I personally miss getting out and working in different places and seeing different people. Our takeaway offering was set up just a few months before Covid as we didn’t have any winter events booked in and so we thought we would set up a small shop just to see how it went. Luckily for us we were able to stay open after the initial lockdown and went from strength to strength.”
Managing two separate sides of a business is a challenge for anyone, and Malcolm admits that “the hardest part of the job at the moment is finding time to step away from the day to day running to help shape the bigger parts of the business.”
“We have a great team with us currently and we are on the lookout for more kitchen staff. It’s all about getting your staff to understand the passion you have for the food so they can pick it up as well.”
This passion for the brand is critical for many businesses who are looking to adapt and expand in the current climate. With the rising cost of living influencing where many consumers go to spend their hard earned money, having confidence in your brand and the team behind you can go a long way.
“Our brand has always been about delivering quality and giving customers a feel-good experience – not just with the food, but also the atmosphere they receive when visiting us and the warm welcome they get from staff members.”
So, what about those individuals just coming into the event catering industry looking to get a break? Malcolm suggests exhibiting caution when approaching festival organisers when in the early stages of setting up a new business.
“I would advise people to go for pitches suited to their unit and food type, not just to grab anything you can. Sometimes organisers can be quite greedy and just take on anyone hoping to get a look in.”
It’s a risky business at times, but patience, research and the ability to say “no” when an event might not suit their business is key to success in the event catering arena.
With all the TV food chefs out there at the moment, many of our members have their own culinary heroes who’s cooking skills they admire, but Malcolm sees talent within the trade each and every day.
“Anyone who puts some love into their cooking and serves up great food is a hero to me!”
After browsing the Burnout BBQ menu online and seeing the pure joy that is their Chilli Cheese Hotdog, Beef Meltdown Burger and Buffalo Chicken Loaded Fries, we can honestly say that we couldn’t agree more with that statement!