Josh Hollins had spent years working as a chef at Red Lobster in Ohio and Michigan, then Texas Roadhouse, before deciding to go it alone. His new food truck, Jay’z Potato & Grill, was inspired by his 18-month-old son, Joshua Jr.
“J’s remind people of my son and me,” Hollins said. “I’m a barbecue fanatic, I love, love barbecue. And my grandmother always made potatoes with everything; all of our food had a side of potatoes. She passed away in 2011, so I kept the potato theme as a tribute to her.
Hollins began creating his menu by sourcing the best Idaho potatoes he could bring to Knoxville. “It is first and foremost,” he said. “And I cook and prepare all the fresh food. Presentation is the big thing, I try to make sure the food always comes out a certain way.
Another signature touch, Hollins said, is his handmade barbecue sauce. “I also believe in healthier cooking, I don’t use a lot of salt.”
After a trial run in April, feeding local factory workers, Hollins tweaked the menu. “That’s when I discovered that a food truck isn’t as easy as people think,” he said. “I went over there and set up all my gear and everyone told me my food was good, but it was slow. I went there with a big menu and tried to go out and cook it all – I had steak, corn dogs and a whole bunch of other things on the menu.
Hollins has tweaked its menu into a few big favorites. “It’s a very difficult choice between barbecued ribs, Philly steak and onion, and potato-laden Chicken Alfredo,” he said. “When I go out I do pretty well and different people get different things.”
The secret to spare ribs is in Hollins’ handmade barbecue sauce and soaking them in an Italian vinaigrette.
“They have to marinate in this dressing,” said Hollins, who has set up his new pellet grill and smoker combo next to his food truck to grill his ribs, Polish sausages and burgers.
“I cook fresh and take pride in my food and the way I cook. I can’t rush.
After the AT&T store manager in Washington Pike tried Jay’z Potato & Grill, he asked Hollins to move outside the store for his customers. “They wanted a different look instead of just a showcase for their customers,” Hollins said. “I’m doing just as well on Tazewell Pike at the Exxon in Fountain City.”
Senetra Weaver, a Knox County School Worker, passed by and noticed the Jay’z Potato & Grill Truck and decided to give it a try and ordered the Chicken Loaded Potato Alfredo. “I noticed it was a black owned business and wanted to support it,” she said. “If it’s good, I’ll promote it and hope it comes to our school.”
Hollins said he posts his new dishes, promotions and where he will be on his Instagram and Facebook accounts. Just search for jayz_potato_n_grill.