From Teacher to Barbeque


It seems to me that a lot of restaurants and local entrepreneurs have gone mobile with their specialties. Food trucks are appearing more and more at local festivals and on city streets, showcasing their wares and tantalizing our tastebuds with delectable specialty foods.

One Dodge Center local, Nate Hamm, is one of the new kids on the block. Nate owns and operates HammerQ, a BBQ pork, shredded chicken, and brisket wagon that serves up generous portions of meat and sides. The sides he carries are cheesy corn, smoked mac-n-cheese, loaded potato salad, coleslaw and midnight beans, a specialty side of smoked beans that sell out fast!

How did this idea originate? I spoke with Nate after sampling the BBQ pork sandwich which was awesome, to get the history on his new venture. "In 2011, I went to Kansas City with some friends, and we sampled several BBQ restaurants, I became obsessed with smoking meat. Two weeks after I got home, I had my first smoker. Now I have 15! As an avid griller, I watch BBQ cooking videos and do a lot of smoking for my friends and family. I started making my own rubs and sauces, and love experimenting with new flavors."

A few years ago, Nate decided to retire from teaching Health and Phy Ed in Kasson, and change occupations, focusing on his love of BBQ. He wanted to follow his passion and do something different after 20 years in the school system. He purchased a trailer, designed it, and the rest is history.

I looked up some information on food trucks to get some info on public opinion. When asked what aspect is the most likely to influence your decision to eat at a food truck, 26% said recommendations from friends and family. Other reasons to try were eye catching logos...6%, online reviews...6%, special promotions and discounts...6%, and social media presence was only 1%, which surprised me. Proximity to location was 2nd highest at 18%. But 34% said that they don't eat at food trucks.

When asked why they don't eat at food trucks, some of the reasons were that they question the quality of the food, since the truck can be there one day, and gone the next. The biggest reason was they question the FDA laws on cleanliness. I found out through more investigation that food trucks place a higher value on being clean than most brick and mortar restaurants I asked Nate about USDA laws and rules. " We are inspected at every venue we go to," he said. "The laws that pertain to food trucks are much more stringent than for restaurants, which are inspected only once or twice a year, so no worries about the space being sanitary."

One of the reasons Nate decided to become his own boss was the quality time he can now spend with his family. His girlfriend Amanda Reynick and his two sons Hunter and Hudson all participate in bringing the food to their customers. Hudson, age 11, runs the till and takes the orders, Hunter, age 14, helps plate the food and prepare the orders. Being his own boss also gives him more time to have family fun!

As far as what he does, he is busy all during the spring, summer and fall, doing about 7 festivals a season right now. He sets his truck up most Wednesdays at the Fire Hall in Dodge Center. He does catering for special events, like family gatherings, private events, and on the golf course. He pretty much shuts down in the winter, but is always looking for new ideas.

You can see his online presence and where he will be serving his food on Instagram, Twitter and face Book by typing in HammerQ, or check out his website at