Before food trucks became fashionable, the humble burger van was King of the Lay-By. For this short series of photographs, Mark Bowen rocked up roadside to capture some of Herefordshire\'s carriageway cooks.
Running a business your own way, having complete control over what you do, with the added benefit of being the one who\'s taking home the profits at the end of the week. Sounds good, right?
We paid a visit to Sam\'s Kitchen on the A1403 Hereford to Worcester to ask burger van owner Gerry Fletcher if the reality is a sizzling success story or just a burnt offering.
So... flipping burgers for a living. What\'s it actually like?
"Running a burger van is fantastic. We get a variety of customers all shapes and sizes. We have nothing but fun from the time we start to the time we finish. I wish I had done it 40 years ago.
"It’s all about knowing your customers and knowing individual’s needs and catering for them socially and food wise. We get a lot of regulars, from all walks of life; people walking the streets, to MPs, all sorts. We get the MEP from Worcester. He comes in quite regularly.
"When we started the business we decided to go to the butchers to get our sausages and beef burgers made. We thought the quality was the most important thing with food. That’s what we eat at home and that’s what we serve our customers."
Do people look down at running a burger van?
"I guess a lot of people would drive by and look down at it until they stop. Most people see the hygiene is tip top and the key to all of it is having it clean. You can’t state it enough. From the top of sauce bottles, the sugar has got to be clean, the spoons have got to be clean.
"What we have found is that most people come along, they stand there for a minute, you can see them casting their eyes around the trailer and expecting just to get a cup of tea and then it’s ‘Oh right’ I’ll have a cup of tea to start’, and then they give us the order.
Does being your own boss means you get to knock off early on a quiet day?
"We’ve never managed that yet. You naturally have quiet periods and then all of a sudden you think what was all that about because there are two dozen people stood in front of me and then you are struggling to keep up with it all.
"We start at 7am and try to leave by 2.45pm, but if people keep coming in and we\'re able to do it we stay open.
"The hardest part, like anything else, is preparation you could clean and clean and turn around and clean again. You’ve never ever finish cleaning."
And how about this location?
"It’s beautiful because this is a sun trap. It is amazing."
Tile and banner image: Mark Bowen, Lauren Rogers + background vector designed by Kjpargeter - Freepik.com