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Exploring Life & Business with Rob Howard of Shmack’n Plates Bistro

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rob Howard.

Hi Rob, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
My passion for cooking began as a young child around my grandmother’s house; breakfast was my go to. As I transitioned to high school, I enjoyed watching food network and remixing the recipes for the family to try. I found myself falling more in love with the culinary arts profession over time. My family and friends were always excited to try my new creations.

The original food truck idea came to me in 2013 while attending North Carolina A&T. I always dreamed of owning a restaurant; but once I heard of the blooming food truck industry, I figured that would be my first step. Being a new college graduate, I simply could not afford to jump start the business. I made a plan to hone in on my skills. I signed up for cooking classes in different cities when I could; focused on perfecting dishes from different cuisines and began sharing my food with small groups. I am proud to call myself a self-taught chef without any formal culinary school training.

Shmack’n Plates LLC was founded in April 2019 as a full-service catering, meal prep, and private chef service company. We received recognition for our meal prep services between VA and NC which help launch the catering side of the business. In August of 2020, the Shmack’n Plates Bistro food truck was born – MID PANDEMIC! Since we opened our serving window the community has shown us nothing but love and support for our brand and food.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
The road thus far has had its ups and downs, just like any other business venture. I am thankful to have food that speaks volumes and supportive friends and family always willing to lend a hand. Everyday I take the truck out, I learn something new about my operations process/strategy or just how to deal with the unexpected.

Some of the basic struggles include marketing and branding as well as finding consistent kitchen staff and help. I usually can manage as a one man show however depending on the volume of customers, I can use 1-2 additional people consistently for prep or execution.

I feel my biggest obstacle right now is Work-Life balance. For my day job, I am a Small Medium Business Account Manager at Lenovo, Monday-Friday. I only get to fully operate Shmack’n Plates Bistro on the weekends and various late weekday events without burning myself out. I am the epitome of the phrase “No days-off” however, I love every bit of the entrepreneurial lifestyle.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Our truck specializes in modern American cuisine by taking some of your favorite dishes and putting our own shmack’n twist on them. Some of our fan favorites include our General Tso Chicken Tacos, Shmack’n Crab Fries, Jerk Salmon Wrap, Cajun Shrimp n’ Grits, Shmack’n Cheese, and our infamous Honey Bun Cake just to name a few.

Trust me when I say our whole menu “Shmacks!” I would say something that sets us apart is how we rotate some of our menu items quarterly to keep it fresh. I am always proud to introduce new dishes to the public and keep my quality and taste level above expectation. As the owner, operator and head chef of Shmack’n Plates Bistro (SPB), I get the pleasure of menu planning, grocery/supply ordering, prepping and cooking on the truck,

My long-term vision and goal with Shmack’n Plates Bistro is to take the brand nationwide. I plan to achieve this goal by franchising trucks in different markets,

Can you share something surprising about yourself?
A lot of people may not know but I used to DJ from 2009-2015 while in college and I hosted a college radio show from 2012-2014.

Contact Info:

  • Email: shmacknplates@gmail.com
  • Website: www.shmacknplates.com
  • Instagram: shmackn_plates
  • Facebook: shmacknplatesbistro
  • Twitter: shmackn_plates

Image Credits
J. Newkirk Photography

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