As we’ve reported, mobile food operations are a growing trend in Central Ohio. So it only seems appropriate to interview the man behind All A Cart Manufacturing, a business that has provided many local and international vendors with the equipment necessary to make their culinary concepts come to life since 1972.
All A Cart’s founder and president, Jeffrey Morris, has always had diverse entrepreneurial interests that have paved a circuitous career path.
“I am a florist by trade and had a chain of of stores called Morris the Florist at the time,” he says. “We opened flower shops in Kroger grocery stores and needed merchandising equipment, so we manufactured refrigerated flower carts and called them Flowers A La Carte. We were also in the ice cream and restaurant business, as well as the ice cream novelty manufacturing business, so we took our products to the streets utilizing ice cream pushcarts, which we also manufactured. We were approached by many other companies to design and fabricate custom carts for their products, which we did, and All A Cart has been doing so ever since.”
Read on to learn what kind of assistance All A Cart customers can expect, how Morris thinks Columbus’s food truck scene compares to others across the country, and why he’s managed to stay in business for almost four decades.
The Metropreneur: Your company designs and manufactures mobile vending food trucks and carts, including electric hybrid carts, trailers, tricycles. What makes your mobile vending vehicles unique?
Jeffrey Morris: We build a wide variety of units and custom fabricate any type of vehicle to order. Most companies do not have the interest or ability to create such a diverse selection of products, but we can and do.
[M]: How does your company go about customizing a vehicle for a business? What kinds of things do you try to learn about a customer?
JM: Having started and operated dozens of different types of businesses over the years, I am familiar with most products and have a good idea about how best to present them, and design and build a unit that will work well for their particular application. I interview all customers extensively to learn as much as I can about their ideas and background, so as to equip them with the best piece of equipment to get the job done.
[M]: Are there things food truck/cart newbies often don’t consider?
JM: Yes. Most don’t realize all of the various mechanical systems required to operate a mobile food unit. They can be rather complex, and we help explain and train everyone on the proper use of our products, as well as what codes and regulations must be met and adhered to in order to operate safely and legally.
[M]: What else does All A Cart offer?
JM: A complete turnkey operation from start to finish. We can build anything from a simple hot dog cart to an entire restaurant to a completely portable building of any size that can be totally outfitted with any combination of equipment, delivered on wheels, and then placed on a foundation and become a permanent structure.
[M] Has business picked up in the last couple years thanks to the food truck/cart craze?
JM: We have always been busy over the years and provided all these products internationally. They just fluctuate depending on market demands.
[M]: All A Cart is based in Columbus, but is that where the majority of your customers are located?
JM: Our customers are located all over the globe, but the majority are in a 1,000-mile radius.
[M] Do you think the Columbus food truck/cart scene is catching up to those in other U.S. cities?
JM: Actually, Columbus is a very cart-friendly environment and has been ahead of the pack compared to many other areas of the country.
[M]: What are your predictions about the future of mobile food vendors locally and nationally?
JM: They have always been popular and will continue to be so.
[M]: Your business has been around for quite awhile. To what do you owe your success?
JM: A wide diversity of products and a willingness to listen and give people what they want.
[M]: Do you have any advice for a new business owner?
JM: Yes. If you have an idea, do it. That is the only way you will be able to determine if it’s viable.
To learn more about All A Cart, visit AllACart.com.
All photography by Adam Slane Photography.