Hunter Anderson and Ocean Andrew are the owners of On the Hook Fish and Chips, the newest addition to Laramie's abundant food options. The duo recently sat down with Chris Miller to discuss their love for Laramie, their journey to owning the stylish mode of transportation, and where they get their top quality ingredients.
Where are you from?
H - I was born in Cheyenne. My parents were in the military so I've lived all around and I graduated at Central High School in Cheyenne.
O - I'm originally from Wenatchee, Washington, it's a small town in the center of the state.
What did you study in college?
H - I'm still going to college, I'm going to be a senior this semester in Petroleum Engineering
O - I'm also going to be a senior, I'm studying Energy Resource Management and Development.
Why fish and chips and why a food truck?
O - My father is a commercial fisherman in Alaska so my family has always talked about doing a fish and chips restaurant and has worked on different ideas for a long time. Eventually I got interested in the Food Truck Revolution and watching other shows like that on Netflix and I just started thinking about it. Last summer, I thought maybe I could work out of a tent at Frontier Days or one of those and just work for myself for the summer. But, that never really materialized because it was a little too late and you can't really work out of a tent because of regulations and all of that. Eventually, I thought of the food truck idea, or maybe a trailer or something like that, and then Hunter and I just started talking about it in class because I brought it up one time. We ended up going to Denver and finding a company that actually builds food trucks vans. Ours actually used to be an old Fed Ex van.
How did you two meet?
H - We go to the same church at St. Andrews Lutheran Church. But, we had the idea in our Reservoir Mechanics class where we would just talk the food truck. Honestly, that's mostly how it materialized, just spending time in class talking about it.
O - Yeah, we took a lot of trips to Denver and met with people.
What else do you offer besides fish and chips?
O - We started off with a pretty large menu. We came up with a ton of ideas and very quickly we slimmed it down. So, it's just fish and chips and chowder. The last day we served, we did shrimp and chips, and that's easy to do since it isn't much prep. The problem we had initially was that the prep time for all of this is what you don't see on the shows and all of that. We were spending hours and hours, up until 2 am some nights, just trying to get all of these menu items ready. We couldn't even serve all of that once we got to that day. So, we're probably going to bring some of our menu items back as specials. Like, once we get 2,000 likes on Facebook we'll do a coconut shrimp basket that day, or something like that. A lot of people were disappointed that we didn't have that on the menu, but it's just something that takes a very long time to pre-prepare and it's hard to do that all the time.
What are your goals for your business?
O - We want to eventually turn it into a franchise, though we aren't sure if we want to do brick and mortar yet or stick with the food trucks. But we want to start, maybe next summer or the summer after that, another food truck out on the front range in Colorado, so we have one running in Wyoming and one in Colorado, and just start a pretty solid business. Get all our processes down, and eventually market our product to people who also want to start a food truck or a brick and mortar store.
How have these initial first weeks been for you?
H - Stressful. It's been insane because, initially, we thought it would be a little bit slow and we would have to take time to get our names out on social media and get a small following. We advertised our opening day pretty heavily, but when we had our grand opening, outside of Fresh Flower Fantasy on Grand Avenue, there were a ton of people that we didn't expect and it was a disastrous day. We never practiced for that amount of customers and such a big rush. After that we had another good day. The next day, we had success at the United Way Food Truck Rally, we had the biggest lines, we sold the most food so it has just been insane with the amount of support we get. Not only from our peers, but from locals in Laramie and people in Cheyenne. Overall, it has been really awesome. We didn't expect all of this at once, we thought it would take time, but it has really taken off and is really exciting. It's a lot of work though. You see the truck and all of that, but you don't see the hours and hours of cleaning and prep work.
Why did you choose to stay in Laramie?
H - We just love the town. We love the people here. We love the environment that it has, especially now that it is summer and it's not as crowded, it's not as busy, it's not as hectic. It's very laid back, even during the school year when there's a ton of people to interact with, we just really love everything about Laramie as a town.
O - We really like the diversity too.
How did attending UW prepare you for your startup of On the Hook?
O - I think just the connections that we've made, mainly, was really important. Not just at the university either, local connections as well. We've had a lot of help getting this off the ground from friends, people at our church especially.
H - Trent at Double Dubs, the other food truck here, he's been an amazing help and he's such a good guy. Like, on our opening day we were running off of, like, one 30 pound tank of propane and we didn't know that we were only running off of that one because we had two connected. So, when we were cooking all of our fryers and equipment just froze up. Trent happened to come by and just said, "Wow, you guys need help", so he went to his house and picked up two 80 pound tanks. Hooked them up for us and kept us from starting off on a complete failure. Yeah, Trent especially is a really good guy.
O - I think more to your question, being in engineering classes has helped with problem solving...
H - And staying up all night.
O - I would agree with that. Also, with my degree there are a lot of business classes built into it so just learning the basics of accounting and all of that has helped a lot as well.
Is there anything you want to say to the people of Laramie?
Both - Thank you!
H - Honestly though, if people don't buy your product you're going to fail and so far we've just had an immense amount of support from Laramie.
O - Yeah, we did not expect to have this many customers so quickly. We expected a very long build up time and to have to go to all these different events, but just all of these people showing up and everybody seeing how popular we are we are getting invited to events. People want us there because they see that we draw people.
H - Back to being patient, because we were really bad our first two days, well not really bad, but especially our first day. The people of Laramie had a lot of patience with us and we have a lot of returning customers and it's very reassuring that we are doing a good job.
Where can people find your truck on any given day?
H - We create a schedule every Sunday night, where we're going to be throughout the week whether that is Denver or Fort Collins, when we eventually start vending there, or in Cheyenne, or any specific events in Laramie. We also include the times. For Laramie, we usually set up at Fresh Flower Fantasy on Grand so that is where you can normally find us.
O - I have a horse. I border it at On a String Ranch and go trail riding a lot.
Anything you would like to add?
H - Can we thank you? Can we put that in there? Thank you for giving us this opportunity, it's really awesome.
O - I think we should talk about our product a little more. One of the things that makes our fish and chips a lot better than any other vendor is that our cod is caught by hook and line. My father's boat actually goes out and sets 50 miles of line a day, and every 42 inches there is a baited hook. When they bring the live fish aboard they are instantly beheaded, gutted, and flash frozen so it preserves the quality of the fish really well. Our fish is way more tender and moist than you will find at other places. Everything is shipped from Dutch Harbor, Alaska. From there it is shipped to Seattle where it is processed, it's filleted and everything there, and it is brought to us on a truck straight to us. We have a cold storage facility here to keep everything.