Keith Daniels is a man with an ambitious finger in every pie or should that be ‘every burrito’? He’s well-known in Waterford as the owner of Chingón a Tex/Mex style food truck, Bad Ass Catering and as manager of Phoenix Yard, a permanent food truck market based in the Cultural Quarter of the city. But that’s not all! When we catch-up with him, he’s just launched a new food truck offering plus he has another major project due to lift-off in the coming months. Keith has over 20 years experience in the food service industry and many of these he earned while working in London. We needed to know more of his food story…
Keith, will tell us about Chingón and your other enterprises?
I started Chingón in Oct 2018 and my ambition then was to go to Markets and Festivals in the food truck, I’d bought. Chingón is a Tex/Mex food truck which blends influences from Mexico and the USA. We serve Tacos (Birria our favourite), Burritos, Quesadillas, Fajitas, Loaded fries and wings.We operate in the Phoenix Yard seven days a week.
The Phoenix Yard Market was a business venture created in 2020, a few weeks into the Covid-19 pandemic.
What’s your favourite thing about running your own business?
The best thing about running your own business is the freedom, you are your own boss and it’s up to you to try your hardest to make your business work.
And what do you find is the most frustrating?
Working seven days a week after a while this can catch up with you, I find it hard to switch off! I’m getting a bit older too and festivals can really drain you, as you get very little sleep.
Describe an average workday.
Wake up and drink a couple cups of tea, I do a bit of marketing on the phone, some prep and then open the Phoenix Yard. I’ve a few projects on the go so I have to give some of my time to each of them every day.
I’m a total people’s person and love meeting new and old friends; I can talk for Waterford!
What keeps you going or inspires you?
I’m scared of failing and want to make something to pass-on to my kids. Also, I’m a total people’s person and love meeting new and old friends; I can talk for Waterford! Having given a few traders an opportunity in Phoenix Yard the feed-back from them and the camaraderie that this has created, is inspiring too.
Initially, did you manage to get any support or funding for your business?
Very much so, I received some from the LEO, Dept of Social Welfare and my bank Manager who has become a friend and is very supportive. I’ve others to thank too who gave me a leg up at the start.
Can you see your business expanding further?
Oh yeah definitely- I’ve a few food trucks now and I own Skippers Choice [his most recent venture] which does fish and chips and burgers, but with a twist on the traditional Take-Away we all grew up on. Also, the Loaded Fries Company is another truck I have on the go. Then a major project which I am managing at the moment, is to open a new food & craft market called The Greenway Market. This will be based in the Waterford Retail Park, and it’s due to commence in the coming weeks.
When you get good staff be sure to look after them & always show that you appreciate their support.
Do you have any ‘time saving’ tips for business owners?
I’ve check-lists for Festivals because there is a lot of parts to make those happen. I’m lucky too, to have great staff who help me a lot so that I can get a break. When you get good staff be sure to look after them and always show that you appreciate their support. My advice is to do a training manual with images, which is easier said than done as I’m always trying to get around to update it!
Has having an online presence helped or hindered your business?
It’s great of course, each platform has its benefits for certain audiences, younger ones are on TikTok. Instagram and Facebook are good also because it’s all free but paying for adverts can help you too, to spread the word.
How do you engage with your online customer? -What’s your favourite channel?
As I’m so busy I go to Instagram mainly because when you post on it, it posts to Facebook too, as both are owned by Meta.
What advice would you offer someone who is thinking of starting their own food business?
- If you believe in your passion, go for it!
- Don’t be afraid to get advice and contact your local LEO office.
- Start small and scale up slowly from there. Don’t be scared either to get advice from other traders too as they have been there and done that.
- I always remember the advice I got from one guy in Dublin who I was buying some equipment off, I was asking him loads of questions and he gratefully told me loads but he sagely said- you’ll have to find out for yourself and learn as you go along.
Great to talk to you Keith, best wishes with the new food truck venture and we look forward to visiting ‘The Greenway Market‘ soon.
The Phoenix Market opens 7 days a week and there’s an ‘online ordering’ option available on the website for all traders.
For Chingón Tex/Mex food- you can also order via Deliveroo
Note: both Chingón and Bad Ass Catering specialize in Corporate Events, Markets, Festivals and Events.
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