Medora man finds success with food trailer – Seymour Tribune
Nearly every time Billy Hattabaugh Jr. has set up his Spanky’s food trailer this winter, the words “Sold out” have been posted on his Facebook page.
For his debut Dec. 4 in the parking lot at State Bank of Medora in his hometown, Hattabaugh, known there by child nickname “Spanky,” said he thought 50 to 75 people would show up.
He wound up selling out with 250 items in three hours.
When he set up Dec. 11 near the West Towne Plaza on the west side of Seymour, he prepared more food, but he still sold out, this time with 350 items.
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“It was just unbelievable,” the 47-year-old said.
Eleven days later, he tried evening hours in Seymour and had another successful outing.
Then for the holidays, he offered party trays with chicken nuggets, hand-breaded chicken strips and barbecue meatballs and trays of smoked pork loin, pulled pork barbecue and grilled chicken nuggets. Those sold out, too.
Hattabaugh couldn’t have asked for a better start to his new venture.
“It took almost every dime I had to get everything rolling,” he said. “It’s crazy how it has evolved.”
Born and raised in Medora, Hattabaugh graduated from Medora High School in 1992 and then worked at a couple of factories, Bob Thomas Chevrolet and Dura Automotive.
Then in 1995, he started as a forklift driver at Walmart Distribution Center in Seymour. He’s still there today as a human resources manager.
Since he enjoys cooking and likes when people enjoy what he makes, Hattabaugh said he has always wanted to own a restaurant or food truck.
In early 2020, it came down to him and another person to lease a restaurant near Patoka Lake. The other person had experience and was chosen for the lease, so Hattabaugh pursued a food truck.
Through research online, he found Red Fern Dynamics in Georgia and went down there July 2.
“The guy used to be an engineer, and he started (making food trucks) five or six years ago, and they are some of the best you’ve ever built, exactly what I wanted,” Hattabaugh said.
The food trailer was customized to include two fryers, a steam table, a proofer, a flat grill and a charbroiler. It was completed in early October.
“Those are the things I had to have in it to make the food that I make,” he said.
He formed his menu after having co-workers and others sample his food. It includes grilled chicken nuggets with chicken sauce, breaded tenderloin, pulled pork barbecue, pulled pork nachos and little pigs, which is a sandwich with pork loin, pulled pork and bacon.
Setting up in Brownstown for the first time Thursday, Hattabaugh added barbecue meatballs to the menu. Once again, he sold out of food.
That was his final outing until the spring because he is taking time off to have hip surgery in February.
As a kid, a horse stepped on his right leg, resulting in a black and blue bruise. Later in life, he was walking one day and felt like his hip was going to come out. A doctor told him he would have to have it replaced someday.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Hattabaugh said.
Then a couple of years ago, he was injured when his leg went forward after hitting a tree root while mowing.
An orthopedic surgeon told him he needed hip replacement surgery.
“It just hurt so bad, I couldn’t walk,” he said. “I just made it all these years, and then it just got to where I can’t bear it anymore. I’ve got to have it done.”
First, though, he needed to lose 130 pounds to have the appropriate body mass index.
In 2010, he had gastric sleeve surgery and lost about 160 pounds. A few years later, though, hip issues prevented him from walking, and he started gaining weight.
The day after ordering his food trailer in 2020, he started on a lean and green diet to lower his BMI. Eating lean grilled chicken nuggets, lean hamburger (no more than 7 or 8 ounces at a time), pork loin (with fat cut off), turkey roast and green beans and avoiding fast food and soda helped him lower his BMI and lose 120 pounds.
That’s a big accomplishment since he had been turned down for hip surgery in early 2020.
“I just felt completely hopeless because I knew I couldn’t walk and I know it takes exercise to do it, but once I started doing this lean and green, it does well,” Hattabaugh said.
He went from wearing XXXL in shirts to XL and now wears smaller size jeans.
“It’s kind of crazy because the way I feel now, even though with my hip hurting, I feel so much younger,” he said. “Forty-seven years old, but you know what? Man, I feel like a different person. I feel like I did when I was in my 20s. Even though I was overweight then, I could do whatever I wanted, and it’s getting to the point where I can do that again.”
Between his weight loss, hip surgery coming up and food trailer success, Hattabaugh said he has increased confidence.
He appreciates everyone who has supported him in his new business venture so far.
“It means a lot to me because everybody kept telling me, ‘Hey, your food is great. You’re going to make it. You’re going to do well,’” he said. “I doubted it because I go by some food trucks and I don’t see a line and I think their food is good, but for some reason, the support I’m getting is just overwhelming. It really is. I know a lot of people, but it’s just there are people I don’t know that are coming a lot.”
For a food truck to have success, Hattabaugh said it’s important to maintain a route, offer new items and find different places to set up.
Once he restarts in the spring, he plans to do those things and also offer an online ordering and pickup option and do some catering. Also, in hopes of local festivals occurring this year, he wants to set up and offer unique foods on a stick, like country fried steak and fried chicken wrapped in bacon.
He also is working with a friend who doesn’t eat meat to offer healthy options on his menu.
“I think it will be pretty awesome, too,” Hattabaugh said. “I want to be able to serve everybody, have healthy options on there, too.”
He looks forward to continued success with the food trailer in 2021, and he also wants to remodel his house or build a new one this year.
“My life has changed a lot (in 2020), and I plan on it to change in big ways in 2021,” he said.
For information about Spanky’s food trailer, visit facebook.com/Spankys-100498895095175.
Name: Billy Hattabaugh Jr.
Education: Medora High School (1992)
Occupation: Human resources manager at Walmart Distribution Center in Seymour and owner of Spanky’s food trailer
Published at Sat, 16 Jan 2021 06:35:58 +0000