An interview with Richard Zemola

I recently sat down with the Super Hero himself, Richard Zemola, to talk about owning and running Hero or Villain.

Rich is often interviewed for print, radio and television but we wanted our most asked questions to be accessible for everyone that might be curious.

Why a food truck?

Most people in the food truck business would tell you that owning a food truck was their dream. I can’t say the same thing. Granted, I love where we ended up but my dream was actually to own a brick and mortar restaurant. Unfortunately, at the time, it wasn't financially feasible. The capital that I was able to raise was sufficient enough to cover the costs of a food truck, which I think was a blessing. It feels like it was meant to be. Had things not happened this way, I wouldn’t be as happy. Everything happens for a reason.

If you were planning a brick and mortar to start, was there always a Hero or Villain theme, or did that come later?

I always wanted to incorporate comics and nerdy stuff. It’s an undeniable part of who I am. I come from an event background and the best events that I experienced were beyond just music, food or partying. All which are great, but events that had specific themes allowed people to talk about something other than what was going on, on the surface. I didn’t want it to be just about the food. I wanted something else that could connect customers and be fun for everyone.

Let’s talk about your nerd-ness. Besides comics, what are your top nerd things?

Well, when I talk about comics I really want to make it clear that I don’t just mean western comics, I mean manga too. Of course that then leads into Anime. I LOVE Dragon Ball, and Pokemon. I love playing Pokemon!

Who is your favorite super hero?

I think whenever anyone asks they expect me to name a badass character that can rip everyone’s soul out and can do loads of amazing things, but it’s actually a lower level mutant from the X-men Series. He can really do some awesome stuff. Remy LeBeau, best known as Gambit. He has a really cool pink vest, playing cards, a bow staff and has the ability to convert the energy in objects to kinetic energy and then make things explode. He’s amazing.

and Villain?

Dr Doom. He is the greatest villain of all time. He got his start in Fantastic Four, but is seen all across the Marvel Universe.

Back to the Food Truck world. What is your favorite part about the day to day of running the truck? Though, I should say trucks, now that there are two.

Experiencing different scenery. For me it would be difficult to go to work every day to the same place, sit in the same chair, stare at the same screen and look out of the same window. Even though we’re confined to a very small space, we get to see a lot of people from different areas and we’re on the road all the time. Coming from Chicago, it has been amazing for me to see so many different places in Michigan that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Things like that are really cool. There’s definitely a bit of wanderlust in me.

What, then, would be your least favorite thing about the day to day?

Honestly? It’s exhausting. There are a lot of hours that go into it. But, I feel like anyone in any industry that is an entrepreneur is going to say the same thing. When it comes to running your own small business, you’re only going to get out of it what you put into it, and that means time. Food truck specific though, trying to merge into traffic can be really hard! Have you seen how big the OG blue truck is?

What would you say to someone who wants to start their own food truck?

I always encourage entrepreneurism. I think if your heart is in it, absolutely try it, but be cautious. Think really hard about what cuisine you want to do and make sure to limit your scope. When people start off, it’s so tempting to try to over do it and to try do everything. Take your time and start small. See how you go and figure out what you’re good at. If you cast your net too wide, you’ll end up catching something you didn’t want.

Lastly, who is your favorite employee? *hint hint*

I don’t have a favorite (laughs). I honestly see us kind of like the X-Men. Everyone has their own special qualities, like their own mutant abilities.

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