No great business can begin without passion from its founder, a statement that couldn’t be more fitting for one Nashville’s newest food trucks, Music City Brisket.
Started in 2014 by retired electrician Verne Sauseda, Music City Brisket served as a passion project. His love of cooking, coupled with Nashville’s booming food truck scene, made for the prime opportunity to start up the now thriving eatery on wheels. When he decided to launch the truck, he asked himself the question, “Where’s the void in Nashville?” The answer was brisket. “We sort of looked at ourselves and [asked] ‘What kind of food do we like’? And it sort of built from there,” added Verne’s wife, Diane.
From there, he purchased a brand new truck constructed by a custom food truck vendor whose past projects include building the kitchen for Taylor Swift’s personal chef. “We wanted to be high-end,” says Verne. “When we first started out I said ‘I want to be able to have a customer walk up to the truck and look at it as an upscale restaurant on wheels. So our food kind of lends itself to that.” One element that adds to the upscale theme of the truck is the presence of the TV that makes for a convenient display for customers trying to read the menu. It’s also proved useful when catering events, such as a wedding, and guests have a slideshow of images they want to display, taking Music City Brisket from being a food truck to an integral part of the event.
Perhaps the most important piece of equipment is that of the restaurant-grade smoker used to flavor the truck’s star brisket that requires only a few easy steps to create the high-quality taste they’re becoming known for, which smokes the meat for about 10 hours. “That’s our signature sandwich,” revealed Verne. “It’s done exactly the same way every time with that process. That is consistent every time.” In addition to their signature brisket, the truck is also home to other strong items including shrimp tacos and another rising star, the avocado fries – the brainchild of Diane. A fan of Pinterest, Diane came across various recipes on the popular site, but couldn’t find one she liked and took matters into her own hands. “We kind of started playing around with it and sort of came up with our own to make sure that the integrity of the avocado was there,” Diane said. “We’re getting pretty well known for those,” added Verne, noting that they typically sell out. “The demand just keeps growing.”
But before Music City Brisket was in full swing, Verne went above and beyond to prepare, compiling an exponential amount of research on food trucks. “I had the information, I just didn’t know what to do with it,” he said. “I didn’t know how to put it into a business plan.” That’s where Veronica Pulley stepped in. The Sausedas met Pulley in 2014 through Franklin Synergy Bank when they needed financial advising for their new venture. Not only did Pulley successfully build a business plan, she has since become a vital part of the daily operations. “She’s been with us ever since. She’s worn a lot of different hats over the last year,” Verne said, adding that she’s served every purpose from writing the business plan to doing the company’s marketing.
He took his research one step further by spending six months on the food truck, Bare Naked Bagel, learning firsthand what it takes to run a successful eatery. “He had a plan and he was observing and documenting those observations and learning what to do and what not to do. And being on a truck, he could come up with ideas of his own. It was a great wealth of information that he gained,” Pulley said. “You can do all the research, but the on-the-job training is what helped out a lot,” Verne revealed. During his time with Bare Naked Bagel, Verne was able to experience two health inspections, learning everything from what temperature the fridge has to be to how the forks need to be placed, which proved useful once he had his own truck (Music City Brisket has had two in the past year, passing 100 percent both times). “It was a good learning curve, Verne said of his time on the truck. “So I knew a lot of things going in when we opened up our doors.”
But the preliminary work didn’t stop there. The team even went so far as to hold two official food tastings to get a authentic feedback on what menu items were the most well-received. “From there, we were able to sort of solidify the menu that he had in mind. I thought that was quite impressive – he did it right,” praised Pulley.
Just as popular as the food is the topnotch customer service exhibited with every interaction, a vital element to the business and the three people that run it. In addition to creating an upscale venue to serve the food, Verne revealed the most important aspect of running Music City Brisket. “Serve good quality food at a competitive price in a timely fashion and good customer service. With continually doing that, we’ve gotten a pretty good name out there for ourselves,” he said. “One thing that Verne and Diane are adamant about is great customer service and they’ve got a five star rating. They have great food, but it’s served by friendly people,” Pulley said. “He has very high standards and won’t compromise on them and I think that’s why he’s so popular.”
Though they just celebrated their first anniversary, Music City Brisket is already seeing great success in both the food truck community and Nashville at large. They were recently named the Best Fair Food Truck at the Williamson County Fair, beating out the likes of Puckett’s, Chuy’s and Chick-fil-A. They have well over 5,000 likes on Facebook and the avocado fries are selling like hotcakes, so much so that the product was recognized at the Nashville Street Food Awards. And the positive customer feedback, whether it’s about the mouth-watering brisket or a statement that it’s the “best food truck I’ve ever seen,” is what Diane says makes Music City Brisket such an exciting venture. “It is rewarding when they make a point to walk back up,” she said of the kind words from customers. “It makes you feel like it’s worthwhile.”
For more information on Music City Brisket and a schedule of where to find them, visit the official website.