Rob Haworth has been smoking meats for Boy Scout campouts and special events for the last five years. Many of the scouts’ parents encouraged him to start selling his product commercially. He opened for business on Memorial Day weekend in the parking lot at Charboneau Construction and Supply to sell his product out of a custom-built trailer. The Longbranch resident specializes in smoked, bacon-wrapped hot dogs, ribs and brisket.
Haworth's friend, Joe Hackmongh, encouraged him to pursue the food truck idea. He found a trailer and modified it to comply with state Labor and Industries code requirements by putting the smoker outside.
Haworth wanted to sell in the parking lot by Capitol Lumber in Key Center over last Father’s Day weekend, but a health department inspector did not agree that the restroom inside the store qualified as a hand-washing station. Undaunted, Haworth returned to Charboneau Construction Supply during the Fourth of July weekend. He said, "I cooked ribs and brisket for 400 people. I sold out in three hours on July 2 and in four and a half hours on July 3. On Sunday, I added 60 pounds of pulled pork."
Smoking ribs and brisket requires four to 20 hours and smoked butts need 12 to 20 hours, he said. "You lose a lot of sleep. You’ve got to monitor the heat and smoke to do it the proper way." Haworth learned smoking techniques "from my Uncle Howard, YouTube videos and experimenting," he said. He built his own smoker out of a freezer and calls it "the Froker." He is in the process of converting a walk-in cooler into a smoke house where he can smoke 1,000 pounds of meat at a time. Until then, he is renting the commissary kitchen at the Lutheran Church.
"The health department thinks I need a walk-in cooler. I found a 43-cubic-foot refrigerator that I’ll propose to see if it is acceptable," he said.
"We’re excited about this. I’ve got six catering events lined up. I’m in the process of getting an annual permit through the health department and lining up a fire department inspection of the truck and the commissary. I’ll be full-time every weekend on the KP and might travel into Gig Harbor," he said.
A truck driver by trade, Haworth is encouraged by the public demand. "If people want me, I’ll take it to the next level," he said. "I don’t want the overhead of a restaurant right now, but it is fun. I love cooking for hundreds of people. Maybe something will happen."
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