Come take a bite out of this lobster.
Food trucks are slowly taking over the food industry. Putting restaurants on-the-go, food trucks are one of the fastest growing segments of the food industry today. With more than 24,000 active food trucks across the U.S, 30,000 employees and a predicted growth of 2.4 percent in 2021, food trucks help to create an innovative career path in the culinary arts and allows chefs the chance at fulfilling their dream of owning and operating a restaurant without developing the traditional brick and mortar.
The Lobster Food Truck is one of Detroit’s premier eateries and is quickly gaining momentum. Serving hearty dishes with a lobster flair, the food truck offers a unique drive-thru feature for faster service. With over 12 years of cooking experience and 17 years in the food industry, Detroit native chef Nick Wilson is pouring his love of food and the city into the community one dish at a time.
Developing a love for food that would later evolve into a full-time career began as a young child. Exposed to cooking early on, Chef Nick recalls spending time in the kitchen with his grandmother learning the ropes.
“I’ve always liked food. As a kid, my grandma would make food all the time. I got a job as a dishwasher at 14 and I fell in love with food,” says Chef Wilson.
Beginning work as a dishwasher and building from the ground up, the first of many career-changing opportunities arose. Accepted into one of the most prestigious cooking schools in America, the chef would soon leave Detroit for what would be the start of his culinary career.
“I decided to move down to North Carolina with my aunt. I got accepted into Johnson & Wales which is one of the top cooking schools in the country. It is the upper echelons of cooking,” says Wilson.
Unable to attend due to high tuition costs, Wilson chose to wait one year to become a resident of the state. After gaining residency, he began school at Guilford Technical Community College. As training continued, life would present the then-budding chef with another opportunity to expand his career. With just one semester of school left and the chance to intern with the greats, Wilson was pushed to make a decision that would change the course of his time in North Carolina.
“I was offered an internship at Kiawah Island in South Carolina. It was where they would host the PGA tour. I was told I couldn’t get credit for school since it was out of state,” says Wilson. “I dropped out of school in my last semester to do the internship. I stayed there for four months.”
With an established career another shift was on the horizon. After spending time working in Florida and Georgia, in 2018 a relative back home offered the chance to plant roots and move back to Detroit.
“My aunt asked if I wanted to open a restaurant. I told her ‘no’ because I was tired of restaurants. She asked me, ‘what about a food truck?’ and I told her if she was able to find a food truck, I would move back home,” says Wilson.
Business partner and aunt Kathryn Wilson found a truck, but it needed several major repairs. With no wheels and unable to start, the truck was far from being ready to serve. However, with determination, the truck was transformed into a working restaurant on wheels.
“I was thinking to myself this had to work. If I move back, this has to work,” says Wilson. “I put my heart and soul into it. I turned down jobs at some of the best places in Detroit.”
The Lobster Food Truck was born in 2018 and has continued to become a staple in Detroit. With no promotion and very little marketing, the food truck is gaining popularity one taste bud at a time.
“We don’t really do any marketing or PR. I like to let the food speak for itself and word travel slowly,” says Wilson.
Serving dishes like hot lobster rolls, lobster mac and cheese and loaded lobster fries, there is something for everyone on the menu. Working with fresh seafood while in Florida combined with his aunt’s love for the delicacy helped to determine the direction of the menu.
“My aunt is actually a pescatarian. I was used to cleaning and cooking with seafood. I asked her ‘what about crab or fish?’ She suggested we go with lobster,” says Wilson.
With the food truck rolling, the business is expanding to open a restaurant this year. Built on and with family, The Lobster Food Truck prides itself on fresh quality foods and fast service. However, for the owner, giving back to the employees who help keep the business running is key.
“We’re closed every Sunday and Monday unless there’s a festival. When I was living in Florida, I couldn’t come visit my grandparents and they were having a hard time,” says Wilson. “I missed time with my grandparents and that’s why I came back. I’ve been there where I couldn’t spend time with my family.”
Although the truck is in a new location daily, it is always available for customers across the city and posts a schedule on the restaurant’s website.