Just three weeks into their new venture, Joann and Tad Calwell say they’re still trying to carve out their niche within the Owings Mills community.
However, when you’re serving grub like Korean pork barbecue and spicy Cajun gumbo out of a bright pink truck with a smiling pig as the logo, it’s tough to say you’re not one of a kind.
Eldersburg residents for the last 20 years, the pair opted to set up business in Owings Mills because of the growth in the area and the fact that they felt locals were being underserved during the lunchtime hours.
“It’s growing so much, it’s really an urban area in the suburbs,” Joann said of Owings Mills. “The people have been really nice here and I definitely think there are enough people here that you can make a go of things.”
With their food truck, The Jolly Pig, the Calwells are aiming to provide local eaters with something a little different to quell their lunchtime hunger.
Married for close to 26 years, both Joann and Tad worked in the mortgage business before the real estate market came tumbling down along with the economy. That, combined with Joann’s 30 years of personal cooking experience and encouragement from friends and family who had sampled her food, inspired the duo to embark on their food service endeavor.
“The pork is our number one thing. Our friends and family said, ‘you need to sell this. This will sell like hotcakes,’” Tad said. “My wife’s a very good cook. [The Korean barbecue] is kind of unique to us. Nobody else is really making that.”
The Calwell’s were also influenced by the growing popularity in food trucks through different shows on the Food Network. And, in addition to its versatility, owning a mobile business eliminated the expenses of being tied down to a commercial location, which the two also considered.
“We started watching the stuff on the Food Network and watching the food trucks and it just seemed like a viable business,” Joann said. “I had to come up with something different and I love to cook so this is what I came up with and it’s been pretty nice.”
While the pork barbecue—which comes in three different varieties—is The Jolly Pig’s staple, Joann is scratch-making a wide range of items from homemade soups to angus beef burger and chicken salad sliders.
Despite being parked around town for less than a month, the Calwell’s say they’re already attracting repeat customers and have received several requests to cater private parties.
Routinely motoring around Owings Mills between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., Joann and Tad tweet (@thejollypig) their location every morning and consistently update their Facebook page with what’s on tap for the day’s menu.
So far, they've set up shop in different spots along Red Run Boulevard and Gwynns Mills Court.