Schmidt's gets rolling with new 'wurst wagon'
Schmidt's Sausage Haus und Restaurant has a new $200,000 vehicle that includes an 8-foot-by-200-foot kitchen and a refrigerated window to display desserts such as cream puffs. It is modeled after a 1940s truck that carted goods from the J. Fred Schmidt Meat Packing House, once located in German Village.
The new Schmidt's Sausage Haus und Restaurant food truck literally rolled off the assembly line a couple of weeks ago, just in time for OSU tailgating and a few last summer flings.
The 15,000-pound wurst wagon, officially known as the Schmidt's Sausage Truck, could make many brick-and-mortar restaurants blush, with self-contained plumbing, gas and electrical systems.
"It's built better and nicer than some restaurant kitchens and, in some cases, bigger," said Jeffrey Morris, president of All a Cart, the custom manufacturer on the East Side that built the vehicle.
Andy Schmidt, president of Schmidt's Hospitality Concepts, which manages the off-premises business of the restaurant, said he's impressed with the final result.
"It's beautiful," he said. "It's awesome. It's everything we wanted and more."
The new truck will be unveiled to the German Village community from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 13 at the restaurant, 240 E. Kossuth St.
Two years ago, Andy Schmidt went to Los Angeles to do some research on the flourishing food-truck scene to come up with a design that worked for the merchandise: sausage, side dishes, pop and dessert.
It took a year to plan, build and modify the truck, which rings in at more than $200,000. To put that in perspective, the Schmidt family will have to sell more than 33,000 Bahama Mamas, at $6 each, to pay it off.
Schmidt says he expects between $500,000 and $700,000 in annual gross receipts.
It is modeled after a 1940s truck that carted around goods from the J. Fred Schmidt Meat Packing House, once located in German Village.
The physical kitchen area, called a box, is 8 feet, 3 inches wide, 8 feet tall (from the floor to the ceiling) and 20 feet long.
The truck has an air-bag suspension, in the style of a low rider, which allows the vehicle to "kneel" to the level of customers, who can see brats being grilled. A refrigerated window displays the famous Schmidt's cream puffs.
The company's long-term goal includes building more trucks, expanding south and looking into franchising or partnership agreements, Schmidt said.
Schmidt's is no stranger to the mobile-food business.
The company claims to be the second oldest food purveyor at the Ohio State Fair.
The Schmidt family will continue to use a tent and portable kitchen at various festivals. Yet, what can be done in an hour with the truck takes three hours with the tent preparation.
"It's a lot easier to set up," Schmidt said.