Jesse Huot worked in circulation at The Courier-Journal before starting Grind Burger: A Food Truck with his partner and wife, Liz.
He thought he’d be able to hold onto his job at the newspaper. But by week two of co-owning the food truck, about five years ago, he knew he had to quit. His burgers quickly became popular, which led the Huots to abandon the truck and move to a location on Preston Highway, and later a restaurant on East Market Street.
Grind has rocketed up the Louisville food chain; earlier this month, it was featured on the hit Food Network show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”
Jesse Huot says his experience working 18-hour days in circulation taught him to keep working even when you’re tired. And that’s come in handy as he and Liz run Grind Burger and raise their 8-month-old son.
I spoke with him recently as part of our series, From The Ground Up. Listen in the audio player above.
On how he found his life’s work:
“When Liz and I met, she was vegetarian for I guess texture issues and trust issues with beef. So I really liked burgers and I wanted to eat them. So I said what if I make my own blend. And then we know what’s going in there, I know where I’m buying the beef and she agreed to that. It became just kinda like a pet project for me. I wanted to make a burger she would eat.”
On times he wanted to give up:
“There were several times on the truck that we could have, wanted to, maybe should have given up at Preston. There was one moment where we were out of money. We had $100 left in our account and we just, we were really close. And then the weekend hit and we had a record weekend. We were back on the upswing, and we were never down that low again.”
On the challenges of being in business with your partner:
“It’s something we’ve been worried about the whole time. We’ve been aware that bad things can happen; we’ve kinda just been waiting for them to happen. And they haven’t really happened. You know, we have business fights at home, we have home fights at the business sometimes.
“It’s made the relationship stronger, and I think the strong relationship made the business better.”
This interview is part of From The Ground Up, our weekly conversation with entrepreneurs, changemakers and other innovators in Louisville. This is our last interview for the series for 2016. We’ll be back in the New Year.