Ottawa boys Matt Hinds and Layne Belcher are the owners of the Urban Cowboy, a member of the recently announced food truck fleet that’s set to hit Ottawa in May of this year. With their truck currently in the retrofitting stage, the pair is busy finalizing menu and branding details.
Apt613: First and foremost, what are you guys going to be serving?
LB: We’ve chosen a Texas-style themed menu which leaves the door open to many different styles of food. Texas-style food is a mix of BBQ and Tex-Mex. The backbone of the operation will be the Belcher Burger. It’s a smoked beef brisket sandwich with a lot of history in this town. My mother used to sell Belcher Burgers before Ottawa Rough Rider games as my dad, Val Belcher, warmed up on the field.
MH: We’ll be focusing on using local artisan suppliers to fuel our menu design and put our unique twist on it. We’ll be using cooking techniques like smoking the meat, traditional Texan BBQing and Mexican food preparations. However, we plan on adding our own personalities to the food too. In particular, I’m excited about our taco cones and of course the Belcher Burger. You can also expect some fun plays on the traditional chip truck fare: poutine.
Apt613: What’s your connection to Ottawa?
LB: I’m an Ottawa boy born and raised and have over 16 years of restaurant experience. My family has a long history in the food business in Ottawa and I’ve learned from them along the way with restaurants like Lone Star, Big Daddy’s and most recently Big Easy’s.
MH: Ottawa is a beautiful area with knowledgeable consumers. I think we have a great agricultural region and fantastic suppliers of artisan and sustainable foods. I look forward to working with companies like Whalesbone and groups like Savour Ottawa, who have fantastic products.
Apt613: Where will the Urban Cowboy truck be primarily located?
LB: We got our first choice of location at Bank Street and Glen Avenue. I love it because it’s an established area with lots of pedestrian traffic. It’s also not too far from the Carleton University campus and within walking distance to the (currently under development) Lansdowne Park area. It gives me a great sense of pride to be close to where it all began for my family years ago.
Apt613: What goes into turning a regular truck into a kitchen on wheels?
MH: The short answer: a reliable guy to retrofit our truck. The longer answer is a team of people working under the direction of Terry from Kitchen on Wheels in Alexandria. It’s been a really cool process so far getting to design our own movable kitchen.
Graphically, our truck must be unique to our style since it’s the first impression we’ll be giving people who visit us. Practically, it needs to have specific equipment for what we’ll be cooking, including a spot for someone to prepare fresh tortillas to order.
Apt613: Which menu item do you expect your first customer to order?
LB: I can’t pretend that I wouldn’t find it fitting and a little cool if the first item to go out the window was a Belcher Burger. The legend this sandwich already has in Ottawa makes it the front runner, but to be honest, it doesn’t matter to me as long as whoever orders it leaves happy.
Apt613: Do you plan to take the truck to any local events this year?
MH: I certainly think we’ll look to get into as many small events as we can this year to get everyone familiar with the Urban Cowboy brand and then see if we can expand on that next year. For now we’re focusing on sourcing our products and getting our branding finalized. It’s been a busy few months and we’re excited to start getting food out the windows.