By Thomas Heath, local business reporter and columnist for The Washington Post
After lots of guys I know have accumulated piles of money, they often get the itch to chase a dream. It might be making a movie, owning a restaurant, buying a sports team or whatever.
Eduardo Bocock didn’t make a fortune, but the entrepreneur figured he had earned enough — $1.5 million trading options — to pursue his passion of becoming a restaurateur. Lucky for him, given all that goes into creating a successful eatery, the 44-year-old native of Costa Rica found a far less risky business along the way.
Bocock’s East Coast Custom Coaches in Manassas, Va., turns out about six food trucks a month — the type you see parked outside your office selling items such as pho and falafels — at an average price of $64,000.
Bocock’s team of 17 full-timers has built 300 of these “kitchens in a box” over the past eight years at his space in an industrial park in Prince William County. Based on the number of orders over the past few months, he expects to gross about $4.7 million this year.
The food-truck business is booming, he said: “We get calls and calls and calls and calls.” His secret sauce is a payment plan that allows would-be rolling chefs to plunk down 30 percent of the cost and make monthly payments on the balance from the food truck’s earnings.
Many of Bocock’s customers are immigrants trying to get a piece of the American Dream. They are the sort of people “willing to try something that is perceived as very high risk that also requires a lot of hard work,” he said.