’07, Hospitality Management
For more than a year now, Joseph Sue’s career has been on a roll. As a franchisee for Calbi, his domain has been a catering truck, which travels throughout Orange County.
“The response has been very good,” explains Sue, 32, who graduated from Cal Poly Pomona in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management. “The old perception of the food catering truck is the roach coach, and this isn’t like that at all.”
Indeed, the truck’s stainless steel interior sparkles and the colorful menu on the outside offers an array of Korean-style meat encased in burritos and tacos. There is the sweet and tender beef, the peppery chicken, and the tangy and spicy pork, along with quesadillas, rice bowls, chips and soft drinks. Everything is prepared fresh, says Sue, who follows the Calbi motto of “Consistency, customer service and cleanliness.”
Sue’s truck is part of a new trend in eating, in which catering trucks temporarily set up shop at different locations. When several trucks gather at the same place at the same time, it becomes a mobile food court.
In a typical week, Sue’s Calbi truck will stop at office buildings in Costa Mesa (Tuesday) and Irvine (Wednesday), at the Orange County Fairgrounds (Thursday), in Santa Ana (Friday), and at farmer’s markets in Costa Mesa (Saturday) and Irvine (Sunday). Mondays are reserved for special catering events, including a recent stint at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Laguna Niguel. His days are dizzying, usually extending from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“We serve about 150 to 200 people in about two hours at lunchtime,” he says. He employs three to four people and gets his food from a central distribution center run by Calbi’s parent company, Baja Fresh.
In fact, it was the Baja Fresh CEO David Kim who aided Sue’s business pursuits. He served as a mentor for Sue, who obtained hands-on experience at the front office of Doubletree Hotels in Irvine and Santa Ana before taking on a Calbi franchise.
Sue credits his success in part to the finance, law & accounting classes at Cal Poly Pomona.
“I still have my books and notes and I use them as references,” he says. “Cal Poly provided me with a good foundation for my business.”
As for other students who might want to strike out on their own as he did, Sue offers this advice: “Be patient and hard working. You’ll have long hours, but nothing comes easy. Believe in yourself and know that the hard work pays off.”
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