We had the good fortune of connecting with John Lawyer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi John, what do you attribute your success to?
I feel the most important factor behind the success of the brand was the mindset behind the product we sell. When it comes to food trucks I have a theory that the product you sell should be something that people are familiar with as well as something that the customer can’t easily make at home (or the variation you’re selling is something they can’t make at home). Almost everyone knows what a corndog is, but the corndog is associated with being unhealthy, something you only get a fair, or a childhood memory. Though most people love corndogs they rarely want to admit it as an adult. Diving into the idea of doing corndogs as a business I knew I had to provide something that nobody can easily get. After some research I found very few corndog food trucks in the U.S. and out of those none of them made their own sausages, I found my angle. I truly feel that the nostalgia aspect of our product, plus the uniqueness of options that are made for a more adult version of a corndog is why we’ve been so successful.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Corndoggies is part of a company that has two other businesses, RamaMama and Lickskillet Catering.
My background comes from an upscale euro Asian cuisine which was the focus of my first restaurant in Illinois. I found myself enjoying 6-12 course private dinners which is what lead to the start of Lickskillet Catering when I moved to Fort Collins, Colorado in 2014. A year later I decided to open Corndoggies as a fun food truck concept. Given the fact that I lived in one of the healthiest places in the United States at the time, the concept would either fail miserably or be a great success. Thankfully it has been a great success.
Then in 2019, I started pursuing the dream of a small ramen concept called, RamaMama as an ode to the mom’s who have passed down recipes through generations. This concept suited my background in Asian Cuisine a little more clearly. This concept focus on traditional methods of making ramen by hand as well as providing great food at a reasonable price.
This industry tends to be more of a cut throat industry where employees are taken advantage of, not paid well and treated poorly which leads to a high turn over. I experienced this as I grew up in the restaurant industry through out my life and have been taken advantage of and treated in this manner which always bothered me. I knew starting these businesses I wanted to do what I can to change that mindset and to have a business that is more employee focused where they are respected and treated better and have a voice and opinion that matters to the over all business.
In turn, we now have a business with stable employees that express joy of being part of this company and where there is mutual respect flowing both ways.
Nothing about this industry is easy and the Covid situation has made it ten times more of a challenge to overcome. The constant change of our cost of goods and supply chain issues has taken a toll on a number of restaurants in and around Colorado. It’s an industry where you have to learn to adapt and be flexible and pay even more attention to the constant changes that are happening.
When Covid hit, we lost a lot of revenue for Corndoggies as well as our Catering business. We had to think of the best way to weather the storm not knowing how long it would last.
During the start of Covid, we were fortunate to be able to provide over 20,000 individually boxed meals for the homeless while working through a few charitable organizations.
Also durning this time, we were fortunate to find a space to transition our temporary ramen food truck into a brick and mortar. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best timing to do this, but we had to take the risk as the location was rare find.
Overall, owning a business is not an easy task and it comes down to when the going gets tough, not quitting but finding solutions to problems and learning how to adapt to situations you’re being served.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Our itinerary would consist of,
Day 1: Go to Old Town to explore the many shops that are In the square and grab a sandwich at Yampa. Grab some drinks at Lucky Joes and Ace Gillets.
Day 2: Go to the food truck rally for dinner followed by a walk around City Park.
Day 3: Hop on bikes and do a north of town brewery tour such as New Belgium, Odell, Snowbank, Horse and Dragon, Funkwerks, and a neighborhood favorite, Stodgy on our way home.
Day 4: Explore Horsetooth resevore and go on a hike at Horsetooth rock and grab pizza at JJ’s Pizza.
Day 5: Grab breakfast or brunch at Luciles and do the Mason Trail brewery tour such as Maxline Brewery, Purpose Brewery, Gilded Goat, Black Bottle, Zwei Brewing.
Day 6: Grab coffee at the Alley Cat, lunch at RamaMama and happy hour at the Atrium. Finish up the night going back to old town to grab dinner at Crown Pub and then night cap The Social.
Day 7: Sleep in while the chef makes you breakfast
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
First of all it’s all about the team, who have worked or still work with Corndoggies, we wouldn’t be where we are if it was just me. And a big shout out to the whole cycling community who when we started helped support this concept and allowed us to have a captivated audience that helped get us on the map.