A Richmond food truck run by 3 teenagers takes off

Glory Burger operators stand in front of their food truck at Richmond Farmers Market on Friday, June 24, 2022. From left, Ryan O’Neil, Adam Weinstein and Shea Smith. Photo by Lia Shen/VTDigger

On a recent sunny afternoon in June, tables of vendors lined up in a grassy garden at Richmond Farmers Market selling local produce, crafts, and homemade food.

Among them: Glory Burger, a Richmond-based food truck that serves up homemade burgers and fries at weekly farmers’ markets and special events around Chittenden County.

But unlike most food trucks, Glory Burger is entirely managed and operated by three teenagers.

Ryan O’Neal, Shea Smith and Adam Weinstein, 17, will be seniors at Mount Mansfield Union High School this fall. O’Neill and Weinstein are from Richmond, while Smith is from Huntington.

The three friends all have previous experience in the food industry. Smith and Weinstein work at the now-closed Kitchen Table Bistro, and O’Neil and Smith work at Stone Corral Brewery in Richmond. The trio said they learned most of their cooking skills from their parents and from working in their kitchens at home.

They started their food truck business last summer, using Richmond Farmers Market as their base.

“It was just a tent and a few folding tables,” Weinstein said of last year’s setup. “We started with no money, and we built it from the ground up.”

Glory Burger is now a fully stocked restaurant on wheels. Although the kitchen is not technically a truck, it can be attached to one truck and towed when necessary. It’s complete with running water and ample cooking space.

Weinstein said the new portable kitchen made them more organized and efficient.

Weinstein said that in the early days of Glory Burger, most customers were friends from school. This summer, they’re cooking for a much wider client base.

“Being here at the farmers market, you develop people who just came back,” O’Neill said. “And once you’ve developed that customer base, you can start expanding it.”

During a recent interview at Glory Burger, the audience’s enthusiasm for the food was palpable. A passerby shouted: “Your food is great!” O’Neill, Smith, and Weinstein responded with a “thank you” and a wave.

The Glory Burger menu consists of four different types of burgers and three different types of fries, advertised on the colored chalkboard menus. They use local Vermont beef and highlight farm-of-origin in their menu.

Last summer, making a profit wasn’t a huge priority, according to the trio. This year, they’re making enough to keep the process going.

“Initially, we were really doing it for the joy of cooking, which was still part of the reason we did it,” Smith said. “We’re not saying that we earned something crazy, but now we’re at a point where we can earn enough money to make it really worth it.”

The teens also acknowledged that their parents’ support had a lot to do with their success. Smith said the parents helped promote the company when it was just starting out.

The truck’s name is partly inspired by a family recipe. Smith said his mother prepares a meal she calls the “Glory Bowl,” and when the three friends were jostling over their business names, it seemed that the “glory” was still there. We kind of slept on us,” Weinstein said.

Earlier this month, the Glory Burger team found out that they had made it to the finals of three Seven Daysies Awards, presented by the Burlington-based weekly Seven Days: Best Food Truck, Best Burger (within Chittenden County) and Best French Fries.

Since teens only have a year of high school, the question looms over what they’ll do with the truck after graduation.

“That’s a great question,” Smith said.

“We put in so much time and so much love,” Weinstein said.

We don’t want her to sit down,” Smith said.

They don’t see themselves staying in the food industry after high school but hope to open their own business later in life. However, they are grateful for the opportunity Glory Burger has given them so far.

“This is a great way to learn how to start a business and it is just plain fun,” Smith said.

O’Neill said the three friends learned a key lesson: “There’s no value waiting to do something we want to do if we can do it now.”

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