Recently retired from the army with a great deal of energy and passion to share, Jason Baldwin jumped into the food truck business starting On the Roll Food Truck with the encouragement of his wife and co-owner Brenda. “When he said he was going to retire, I said, ‘Okay, that’s fine, but you still have to work,’ and so he wanted to do the food truck,” said Brenda.
Now Jason’s full-time retirement passion project, he said the food truck keeps him busier than he ever was in the army, but it’s all worthwhile. “The most gratifying thing I’ve experienced is when somebody comes back up to the truck and says, ‘My child thought this was the best macaroni and cheese they’ve ever had.’ Those are the little things that are the most important.”
While his love for food and experimenting in the kitchen is not new, Jason didn’t really begin to consider opening a food truck until he realized it served as a way to combine all of his passions. “I always wanted to help my mother. So that’s what got me into the kitchen initially,” said Jason. “It kind of just developed over the years—a love for cooking, cuisine, ingredients, and traveling. It’s all kind of rolled up into me being a foodie. You’re talking to a guy that has saffron tattooed on his arm. That’s how much I love it. It’s my whole world.”
Following a family trip to Boston and the innovation of their young daughter’s garlic bread and spaghetti sandwiches, Jason and Brenda got to work developing a menu. The menu now features the family-favorite spaghetti, chicken fettuccine, Portobello mushroom, pulled pork mac and cheese, and lobster mac.
Although they originally started their business in the Battle Creek area, Jason and Brenda quickly joined the Kalamazoo Food Truck Community. “It was really Kalamazoo that took us on. I feel like they’ve been the most influential and the most supportive,” said Brenda. “Even though we’re from Battle Creek, we spent a majority of our time in Kalamazoo.”
As in all of capitalism, there’s competition in the food truck community. But for On the Roll, the competitive spirit isn’t against other food trucks. “There’s competition for sure, but it’s more of a friendly, help-out competition. Because you’re only competing against yourself,” said Jason. “In the food truck community if you see somebody else in trouble, everybody jumps in to either plug their unit into your generator, help move a generator, move water, or whatever somebody needs,” said Jason. “It’s a lot tighter of a community than a lot of people think.”
Available throughout the year for catering, fans can also find On the Roll at events in Battle Creek and Kalamazoo, and on November 28, you can join them at Lawton Ridge Winery.