Emily C. Roush
The Ashland Beacon
A new food truck is generating culinary buzz in Ironton, OH. “Fat Boy Q is an authentic American barbecue truck,” described Owner D’Angelo Roach. The menu features dishes that are smoked and wood-fired. “We do ribs and rib tips, brisket, pulled pork, chicken. We’ll smoke just about anything,” he said with a laugh. Fat Boy Q also offers a variety of sides and desserts like Mexican Street Corn and mini cheesecakes.
For Roach, owning a food truck is the realization of long held professional culinary dreams. For years he ran a catering operation as a side business. “It was about five years ago that I started a little private catering business called D’Angelo’s Kitchen and Catering. It was a word-of-mouth business that I did for friends and family.” Roach had a full time job driving a truck for Budweiser at the time, but he continued to cater. “It just kind of evolved over the years. I just kept doing it.”
In 2018 Roach and a friend entered the Wing Wars competition that took place in Ashland. They took the top prize that year and won again in 2019. “I came up with this little recipe, and that recipe won the wing contest. And then I won it again the next year,” Roach recalled. The third annual event set to take place in 2020 was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I am the only champ they have,” he joked. The notoriety of winning the competition twice increased Roach’s culinary exposure. “More people were approaching me about food.” By then Roach had a different day job of hauling fuel. “I was just tired of corporate America. I was working too much. I wanted more time with my kids. I wanted to be more fulfilled in my career. It was time to follow my dream.” Roach was ready to make food and cooking his full time profession.
As Roach mapped out the plan for expanding his food business from part time to full time, the idea of starting a food truck gained traction. He often visited his cousin, and later Fat Boy Q business partner, Marcus Williams, in Columbus, OH. Food trucks were popular in the city. “We would always go and hit up a food truck,” he remembered. During conversations with Williams, Roach would often opine how he wished he had “something like this back home.” After years of enjoying the food truck scene in Columbus, Roach said that asked himself “why not a food truck?” He continued, “this was years in the making.”
The conditions of the COVID pandemic confirmed to Roach that starting a food truck was the right move. “It seemed the obvious direction to go, especially the way things were trending. This was even before COVID. COVID solidified a mobile food business because of all the restrictions.” Roach noted that open air dining was allowed and less limited than at indoor and brick and mortar restaurants. A mobile food truck that offered outdoor dining would be a good business move. “In that sense it helped. It just seemed like the best way to go.” Roach also saw a void in the market in his hometown of Ironton. “I felt like the city could use something like [a food truck]. We didn’t have anything like that at home.”
After settling on a food truck, Roach’s next step was to select the type of cuisine in which his operation would focus. “The concept of barbecue wasn’t initially where I was going.” He said the idea of starting a barbecue specific business evolved has he and his business partner discussed their plans. “I can cook just about anything, but barbecue and grilling are one of my specialties.” Roach credits his family for teaching him how to barbecue. He described that he “[comes] from a line of other great cooks in our family that were also great pitmasters.” He also took familial inspiration for the menu. “The women in our family would traditionally make the sides. That is where our sides are inspired. That’s what our whole menu was inspired by…family events like at Memorial Day.” Roach hopes that his business does his family justice. “In a way it’s like paying homage to family pitmasters who helped me out, showed me different things, and inspired me to take it to a commercial level.”
Fat Boy Q officially opened in April when the truck set up shop outside Granny’s Gifts and Novelties in Ironton. As word has spread about Fat Boy Q, the benefit of mobility has been further strengthened for Roach. “We’re not locked down to one location. People have been calling us, wanting us to set up.” Since then, Roach has taken the truck to different locations and events in Lawrence and Scioto counties.
Although still new, Fat Boy Q is already expanding. “It’s a whole family thing right now,” Roach laughed. He continued, “we have got cousins, and uncles, and everybody plugging in positions.” Although Roach is the only full time employee, his business partner travels to Ironton to help on the weekends. Roach’s sister is also getting ready to join Fat Boy Q full time.
Public response to Fat Boy Q has been encouraging which is heartening for Roach. “I feel like it has been very, very positive. The community has come out to support. There are people that have came and seen us every day that we have set up,” he explained. He also said that many people have reached out to him via private social media messages. “I can just feel their excitement. How excited they are about how good the food is.” He also appreciates how understanding people have been. Although he ran his catering business for several years, Fat Boy Q is a much larger undertaking. “It’s still new. I have never cooked and served so many people. For everybody to seem so genuinely pleased with what I am giving them. They are excited about the brand of Fat Boy Q and the food truck being in Ironton. I’m feeling a real good buzz. Even though I can’t see everything on social media, I see when a bunch of people share us. I think it’s been really positive.”
Fat Boy Q has a busy spring and summer of events ahead. Roach is particularly excited for a hog roast that they are planning Memorial Day weekend that will take place at the Auger Inn in Ironton. More details will soon be announced. Additional information about Fat Boy Q can be found on their website www.fatboyq.com. The food truck is also active on social media, posting updates on Facebook @fatboyq740 and Instagram @fat_boy_q_740. Each week’s locations are typically posted on their pages on Sunday. Fat Boy Q also offers catering. In addition to the website, people can contact Roach at 740.550.4974 for more information.