It all started with a pasta maker. A gift to Rocky Luna from his wife, Julie, one Valentine’s Day. Next came their daughter’s graduation party where she requested a pasta bar, an occasion they decided to cater themselves with that pasta maker and a handful of family recipes. Rave reviews, an existing entrepreneurial spirit (the couple also owns Pigtails and Crewcuts in Rockbrook Village) and an interest in food cemented the future of Pomodoro.
Already owning a brick and mortar business, both knew they would prefer to avoid some of the traditional hassles of opening a restaurant and instead, looked into a food truck option. This led them to the Kitchen Council right away. “You have to have a commercial kitchen in the food truck business and since we weren’t planning on opening a restaurant to serves as that kitchen, the Chamber’s Kitchen Council model fit perfectly,” Julie Luna added.
Pomodoro focuses on events like food truck rallies, sporting events and partnerships with local brewery tap rooms and Food Fleet to ensure there is enough demand for them to prep food. “We’ve found going out to random streets and trying to drum up business just doesn’t work. Success comes from working events and we’ll cater to a crowd no matter how big or small,” Rocky said remarking on their strategy and audience. The couple has even hit the road, working some festivals in the South from Florida, Alabama and Arizona. It’s given the couple and Kitchen Council’s managing director, Holly Benson, a first-hand look at the process of permitting and the inspections a food truck has to go through in order to show up to an event and serve delicious handmade pasta.
And like the perfect Italian dish, Rocky and Julie play off of each other well. Rocky makes all of their pastas and pizzas, while also incorporating things from other Kitchen Council members like pork from D’s Catering and custom made buns and bread from Copper Finch Creations in the future. Julie is the people person, chatting with customers and providing all the family recipes for the pasta sauces. The duo doesn’t have any previous formal culinary training but are most comfortable in the kitchen, ideating and testing out the best way to produce each component of their menu – and borrowing from partners when it makes sense. Family is at the center of everything, leveraging seven willing taste testers and staff in their kids.
They are all about collaborations and something they are thankful for with the shared space at Kitchen Council is being able to work through problems with other members who are on hand getting ready for their own events. There is also a big focus on using local makers, from food to the company who wrapped their food truck. “Revolution Wraps was fantastic, turning around our truck in a couple of days and giving us really good options right off the bat.”
The best moments are when they get repeat customers who have a preferred dish already. Someone who comes looking for, say, alfredo they’ve had at another event. They’ve also learned from their first few outings and have added things like sandwiches and burgers for more variety. “If the kids want chicken fingers and the dad wants spaghetti, they are going to go to the place with something for the kids first.”
A plus of being a member of Kitchen Council is the immediate exposure to new audiences. They’ve had opportunities to cater Chamber events and have made connections to bigger events like the PRIDE Fest, one of the highlights of their year in business. Selling out effectively twice, they sat out in rainy weather to make sure festival goers had food options throughout the day.
Another benefit of being a Kitchen Council member is having storage space and room to prep more food in advance. Not having to look numerous places for their pasta drying racks and other production components cuts down on prep time. Now that their customer base has grown, next steps for business growth include selling their pasta and pizza dough in stores.
You can check out Pomodoro and many other Kitchen Council members at the upcoming Holiday Chef Pop Up December 5 from 6 to 9 p.m.