We had the good fortune of connecting with Patrick Virgin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Patrick, what do you attribute your success to?
The most important factor behind the success of my brand Boar’d to Death has to be our commitment to quality and consistency. In this business it is real easy to cut corners to save cost and/or make more profits. I’ve always thought about it like that old saying. “Nothing good comes easy.” So taking the time to find the freshest ingredients each day, to prepping the recipes exactly how I crafted them, and just loving what I do is one of the sole reasons I believe I’m able to stand out and have so many people in our community that are loyal to the brand.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I wasn’t always interested in food or restaurants. I actually was studying to become an orthopedic surgeon. It wasn’t until I started working to save up for medical school that my passion for food arose. My first job was at a Marble Slab on the Kemah Boardwalk. It was a fun job that I enjoyed so much it seemed like “easy money”. Thats when I decided to continue working in different style of service industry jobs specifically restaurants while i continued school. Going into Junior year of college, I realized becoming a doctor was a dream but not my passion. I had discovered my real passion over the years unknowingly. That passion was restaurants. I loved every aspect of it. At this point I had almost worked every position in a couple of restaurants and every single one came natural to me. It was just this feeling of joy on the job I really cant describe. Thats when I decided that I was going to change my major and pursue this crazy dream of becoming a restauranteur. My major changed from Biology to Business Leadership. I had a double minor in Economics and Business Administration. My Senior paper for my business class was a business plan for a food truck in the Houston Market. Fast forward after graduation I got my first Leadership position within the restaurant I was working for. This is where my journey began. As I moved up the corporate ladder within companies, I was able to learn a lot of what made places successful and also what hurt them. After a while I felt I was learning more of what NOT to do than what TO do. That gave me the confidence to start really looking at that business plan I wrote school and turn it into something real. I continued working for the next couple years with positions ranging from Corporate Chef, General Manager, Kitchen Manager etc. It wasn’t until 2017 when Hurricane Harvey hit and I was the General Manager of a modern East Coast restaurant that had one central Houston location in the Woodlands. Things were great, I loved the company and what they stood for. But unfortunately when the hurricane hit things changed. My wife and I had been married for a mere 4 months and had moved into our house when Harvey wiped it all out. Luckily the company I worked for as well as a Large group of friends and family did everything to help us get back on our feet but my perspective changed. I realized that life is about taking chances. If you never take the chance you’ll live forever wondering “What If”. My beautiful wife has been my biggest supporter and it was her that convinced me to take that leap of faith and do something about my business plan. So then and there, I left a perfectly good job, bought a used trailer, and became a plumber, electrician, gas technician, chef, owner and operator all at once. The challenge didn’t come from the things I didn’t know. The challenge was trusting that I could do something like this for myself all while supporting my wife and my son. Was any of it easy? No. Is it easier now? Not necessarily. But its something I truly enjoy, Thats how I know that I won’t give up. It wasn’t all on a whim either. Besides the business plan, I had been menu tasting for “potential restaurant ideas” so I was ahead of the game in this aspect. I knew based on my research of the industry and especially going up the low success rate for new restaurants I wanted to make sure I was doing something that would allow me to grow. In my research I learned those with a niche stand out. My niche is having my family come from Colombia, South America. I ate a lot of different ingredients growing up that aren’t easily found here in the states. But I mean these were memorable items that I knew if I still had these memories from childhood maybe I could do something similar and share those with my community. Thats when we finalized on the idea of a Pulled Pork truck with a Colombian/American theme. I take those ingredients like Fried green plantains, Arepas, Fried Pork Belly, etc and americanize them into things were used to seeing in the US like “tostadas” or “Sliders”. Having a niche isnt all that makes you successful though. Its sticking to your brand, delivering a fresh product that is also consistent. From all my practice in various kitchens, some doing fresh ingredients and some reheating food made at their commissary, I was able to come up with a menu that allowed me to utilize my minimal trailer space to prepare, store, and sell delicious made from scratch Colombian American food. In 3 years our recipes haven’t changed and my favorite most common compliment is how our food looks just like the pictures. I believe presentation is huge when eating. So when eating at Boar’d to Death you can guarantee a fresh, well presented product every time you visit. Those are the reasons I truly believe we have had the success we have had thus far.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
During baseball season we are definitely catching an Astros game at Minute Maid. Yeah drinks are pricey, food is alright, but any day at the ball park is a good day. From there we would have to roll over to Main St and get a delicious burger From Chef Shannen from Craft Burger. That place never disappoints. We’d also head over to Rosehil Beer Garden in Cypress. Past the bias of my food truck being located there I couldn’t not take a friend to check it out. Between the rare whiskey selections and all 8 food truck options no matter what the occasion its a perfect hangout spot.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to give a shoutout to my mentor, Eddie Jackson. Before I brought my food truck to Cypress I hadn’t quite found out where the business would call home. When I found out that a familiar face and local Chef from Food Network had opened up a food truck park, I knew I had to have my business there. I was new to the food truck business but have been in restaurants my whole life so I felt I had a good grasp of the adventure ahead of me. First time Eddie tried my food he said that I had a good thing going and I needed to own it. Fast forward a couple of years, and that confidence he instilled me allowed me to not only trust myself and my brand, but opened up new opportunities within the Food truck Park. Eddie decided to open up a couple of his own food trucks to feature at the park, but has allowed me to help not only curate recipes but also trust me to run the trucks and make sure we do nothing but sell quality, consistent, and delicious food. Working with him has not only helped me grow as a chef but allowed me to grow as an entrepreneur and I’m forever grateful for that
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