Sunday, January 29, 2023
Home Truck Store Aces of Trades: Bob and Maggie Bennett left corporate world to start...

Aces of Trades: Bob and Maggie Bennett left corporate world to start restaurant business


LANCASTER – Bob Bennett’s hobby of grilling in the backyard directly led the way to he and his wife, Maggie, starting new careers.

Bob Bennett worked in finance for Nationwide Insurance and Maggie Bennett worked in finance for Limited Brands before opening Bob’s Backyard Bar-B-Q food truck and restaurant.

“It’s one of those deals where you kind of get sick of working for a corporation and sitting in a cubicle,” Bob Bennett said. “We started barbecuing in the backyard and people said you ought to sell this stuff because it is good enough to sell. So we tested the waters out with the food truck, and eventually we moved to the brick and mortar.”

The restaurant opened three years ago at 157 W. Main St. this month and the Bennetts have also operated a food truck for five years.

Bob Bennett said leaving jobs in the corporate world was scary for the couple.

“It was very risky,” he said. “We took massive pay cuts in order to do it. It’s one of those things where you put your life savings into it to get it up and running. But things are going well, especially considering the circumstances (coronavirus pandemic). So far so good.”

The Bob’s Backyard Bar-B-Q and Cafe’s menu features smoked pork, brisket and chicken. The menu also features fries and side dishes like chili, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, roasted sweet potatoes, baked beans and more.

Bob Bennett said the plan all along was to eventually open a restaurant to go along with the truck.

“The food truck was sort of a low-risk, low-overhead way to test the waters and test the market to make sure people would actually buy our stuff,” he said.

Bob Bennett said the food truck allows him to travel around promoting the Bob’s Backyard Bar-B-Q name.

“The food truck typically goes to Columbus, so that’s like rolling advertising,” he said. “The best marketing we can have is actually giving people our food.”

With coronavirus cancelling many events where food trucks would normally go and with many office workers working from home, Bob Bennett said food truck business is down. So instead, he will go to places like apartment complexes and the like for customers. He said he recently took the truck to a local apartment complex and did well.

Regardless of the pandemic, food trucks have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years. Bob Bennett said that is due to convenience and the variety of cuisine. 

“You look at the Central Ohio Food Trucks Association and there are probably 20 or 30 different cuisines represented,” he said. “So if you’re in a place where a bunch of different good trucks come around, you can have a tremendous variety of cuisines that you can try and come up with your new favorites. So I think that has contributed to the popularity.”

While coronavirus has impacted the food truck business, Bob Bennett said it has not had a permanent impact on the food supply.

“It’s seems to be coming back and getting better,” he said. “It was a little scary there for a while.”

Away from work, the Bennetts enjoy gardening. They obviously enjoy cooking, as their products are all made by them. 

“Everything is homemade,” Bob Bennett said. “It’s obviously not made at home, but it’s store-made. We take pride in not taking somebody else’s product and putting it out. We make our own. We transform everything.”


Twitter: @JeffDBarron

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