8 min 38 sec

House Arrest Leads to $500,000 Food Truck and Catering Hustle

While serving time after a run-in with the law, one man and his cousin get creative in the kitchen, then launch a successful food truck, catering, and restaurant business in rural Pennsylvania.
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What It's About

Restlessness during house arrest leads a couple of cousins to a successful business with a food truck, restaurant, and catering service.

Business Model
Skills Required
Cooking & Business Savvy
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

Instead of using Facebook ads, the cousins offer a free meal each time they post about something important, such as a new menu or service. They say these posts end up with five times the visibility because their customers are more invested with a free meal on the table.

Find ways to gain exposure and market your side hustle while also offering your customers something they may want. It's win-win!

Fun Fact

For their restaurant, the cousins signed a lease on a place that had closed a few months prior. The previous enterprise had steadily started losing customers after someone was stabbed in the parking lot, which led to the enterprise’s shuttering.

This meant the rent was cheap, and the kitchen equipment was already there, so the duo pounced on it. The same space has been home to at least 6 bars and restaurants in the past 15 years, each less successful than the last. Zach and Teddy plan on beating the odds.

Notes from Chris

Episode 121
Before his encounters with law enforcement, Teddy had been a talented chef and had worked in several French restaurants. To pass the time while under house arrest, he started hosting a Tuesday Supper Club for his girlfriend, Zach, and Zach’s wife. It was over these weekly, house-confined gourmet dinners that Zach and Teddy started talking and dreaming of starting a business together.

The cousins live in an economically depressed region in rural Pennsylvania, where 20% of people are under the poverty line and you have to drive over an hour to Pittsburgh to seek out good restaurants. Their idea was to bring reasonably priced, “city-quality” cuisine to their county.

While it hasn't always been easy, the cousins show no sign of slowing down. To keep with the theme of adding a new component each year, the duo are planning to open the other side of their rented space as a new restaurant serving fast and casual BBQ, to help bring traffic to the building on weekdays. In 2017, Zach and Teddy hope to exceed $500,000 in sales and $50,000 in profit, and are planning what’s next on their way to $1 million.


  • Small Town Kitchen: Learn more about Zach, Teddy, and all of their delicious endeavors on their website! This site also has lots of great resources for those looking to start their own restaurants, food trucks, and catering companies
  • CleanSlate Catering & The Foundry: Zach and Teddy's catering and restaurant branches

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,


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Quote of the Day
"If you can test and learn with friends and family at a low rate of investment, do it. Talk about your business idea and see what the feedback is—but get real sales before investing too much."
—Zach Ellsworth #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau