Cajun-spiced lobster sizzles on the griddle with a mix of poblano pepper and onion before it’s topped off with a heap of Monterrey Jack cheese and slapped between two thick slices of buttery Texas toast. Fresh seafood, cooked to order. It’s not what you’d expect from an Oklahoma City restaurant, let alone an Oklahoma City food truck. But local food truck turned restaurant Off the Hook is all about breaking expectations.
Start a Food Truck? That’s a Great Idea!
Loniesha and Corey Harris originally got the idea to start a food truck from a former Thunder basketball player. While that partnership didn’t pan out – the basketball player was traded to another team – the seed was planted. The couple decided to move ahead with the concept on their own.
Luckily, Chef Corey grew up in a family of cooks and graduated from culinary school in 2007. So they had the chops to back their ambitious project. Loniesha took the reins of the business side of the operation, and the truck debuted in 2013.
“We wanted to do something different, to stand out. And that’s exactly what we did,” said Loniesha Harris. The people of OKC responded enthusiastically to the new concept. Loniesha says it took them about six months to get the word out about the truck. And after participating in the H&8th Night Market for the first time, their fan base grew exponentially.
“When you have these small mom and pop food trucks, they just blow up fast because you’re tasting something different and unique.” Loniesha said.
Give the People What They Want
It wasn’t long before their fans started demanding a brick-and-mortar location for the popular seafood truck. “They got tired of chasing us all over the city.” Loniesha said.
The couple opened their first location on Britton Road in 2015, just two short years after starting the truck. The bigger space allowed Chef Corey the creative freedom to cook up new exciting dishes, like their famous melted lobster sandwich.
A second location on Meridian Avenue opened two years later, with a larger dining room and a full bar. Off the Hook has expanded their menu, adding po’boys to the Britton location and serving up unique dishes like fried chicken and pancakes, cajun butter frog legs and blackened chicken fries along with seafood classics like gumbo and shrimp and grits.
The Off the Hook family isn’t slowing down anytime soon, either. If opening two successful restaurants wasn’t enough, now they’re celebrating a win on The Food Network’s new show Family Food Showdown. In addition to bragging rights, they walked away with a cool $10,000 prize.
The already busy restaurants have gotten even busier since the show aired. In fact, while we were interviewing Loniesha for this piece, a fan walked up to say she’d driven over an hour to taste Off the Hook after seeing it on TV. The woman said she’s always looking to try something different. And like everyone who eats at Off the Hook, she found it.
Truck to Table is a series highlighting the growth and development of Oklahoma City food trucks and how many have opened brick-and-mortar locations. The Tasty Escape is partnering with Visit OKC to showcase the success stories for some of OKC’s most popular “truck to table” restaurants.
Be sure to read the first Truck to Table feature about The Hall’s Pizza kitchen.