In 2002, before food trucks were all the rage, Thomas Odermatt launched his first rolling rotisserie. Before long, Roli Roti’s incredible sandwiches were the talk of the Bay Area.
Thomas may have been new to mobile restaurants, but he was a seasoned expert in all things meat. Growing up in his family’s butcher shop, he developed a passion for healthy and satisfying food. Try Thomas’ perfect porchetta — hand-rolled and wrapped in crispy pork belly — and you’ll see why Roli Roti has become a Bristol Farms fave!
Recently, we caught up with Thomas to learn more about his journey and hear his advice for fellow entrepreneurs.
01 Why did you start Roli Roti?
Roli Roti was inspired by my obsession for great food. My first venture was selling free-range, restaurant-style rotisserie chicken out of a food truck in 2002. Keep in mind, this was almost 20 years ago. And, when you look around nowadays, food trucks are all the rage.
02 What obstacles did you face along the way?
One of my first obstacles was when someone stole my first food truck. Clearly, that put me out of business. However, with the help of the Bay Area media and local police, we found the truck and I was able to get my business up and running. As Roli Roti continued to grow, there were many incredible challenges along the way. However, we have always been able to weather the storm and grow stronger, because we never lost our obsession for quality.
03 What lessons do you have for other entrepreneurs?
Start slow, start small, and learn the business from the inside out. If you regularly oversleep, that means you are not thinking about your business and you are not dedicated to your business. Being an entrepreneur comes with the good and the bad, which include many sleepless nights.
04 What’s on the horizon for Roli Roti?
We still have those rolling rotisserie trucks (Roli Roti is short for Rolling Rotisserie), so we have a great opportunity to test all of our new creations before we sell it to the public. That gives us instant feedback from loyal customers — we know what the market wants, what the market needs, and what item customers will be looking for next. We also have a very active culinary team that constantly looks out for the next incredible tasting creation.
05 How do you keep work/life balance? What drives/inspires you?
Work/life balance starts with me cooking dinner at home. It is my go-to for relaxation. Saturday morning, I wake up and go to the farmers market. I buy fresh produce, seafood, and other great ingredients. Then, I go home and prepare a nice dinner for the weekend.
What drives/inspires me every day is being obsessed about food, being obsessed about driving food forward, and building a company that will stay relevant for a long time.
- Meet the Founder