Get Hungry: From Football Player to Street Food Entrepreneur
Growing up among restaurateurs in Adamstown, New South Wales, with his parents owning Greek cafes, Harry James was surrounded by food from a young age. So it's only natural that, as a young boy, Harry decided to go in the opposite direction. 'My dream was to become a professional footballer,' explains Harry. And that is exactly what he did. He represented his country as a school boy, went on to be a member of the under-20 Australian squad, before playing first-team football in Australia's old National Soccer League (now the A-league).
Harry retired from football at the age of 25 and worked in the event industry for 10 years in Sydney before going back to his hometown of Newcastle on the central coast of New South Wales. It was there, that the schnitzel opportunity arose for Harry and his wife Gloria. The goal: transforming a schnitzel and burger place, The Dineaway, into a trendy food haunt - Harry's Schnitzel Joint.
Although a food truck was never part of the schnitzel empire plan, when their advertising agency brought up the idea, Harry and Gloria found it so intriguing that they booked the first flight to Los Angeles, the birthplace of street food vendors.
And in an instant, Harry's truck was born.
Harry's Schnitzel Joint serves schnitzel wraps, standard wraps, burgers and milkshakes. His best-selling dish is 'The Famous' mouth-watering schnitzel wrap. It's crammed full with golden schnitzel, crunchy vegetables, a generous helping of grated cheese, and finished off with a drizzle of special recipe dressing.
Harry and Gloria are not going to stop with one delicious truck. They already have plans to expand and start a franchise model, aiming for 30 to 50 stores nationally. 'Sydney is on our hit list for 2016, we believe it's time to take it there'.
We caught up with Harry to talk about Sydney, football and schnitzels.
Interview with Harry James
What are your core values over at Harry's Schnitzel Joint?
We actually have a Ten Commandments of making our 'Famous' Wrap (Moses, yeah, he'd go a famous). Some of the commandments deal with being generous, hand-crafting the schnitzel and making it with love and gusto. Commandment number seven deals with our secret squirrel ingredient (tell you and I'd have to kill you or at least bury you with a bunch of nuts for the winter).
I bet a lot of football fans come to Harry's Schnitzel Joint to see you?
Oh yeah they sure do, the ones that remember me. No honestly, I don't think people know who I am most of the time as we have structured the business for each cook to be called Harry during their shift, as we call out 'One schnitzel please Harry', every time a schnitzel is ordered. So I guess people think Harry is the guy cooking on that day.
If not schnitzels, what would it be?
That's easy, assisting Jose Mourinho…right now he needs Harry beside him, I reckon he'll look good hanging with Harry!
What's next for Harry's Schnitzel Joint?
Franchising. Firstly, my dream is to give other people the opportunity to get involved in a business model that will give them the lifestyle and income that has delivered us over the last six years.
Secondly, I'm currently focusing on a work and family balance, I have a hard working wife that works very hard within the business and at home so my goal is to be more of a dad to my kids and more of a husband to my wife, sounds easy right! It has been my hardest challenge, but when we nail it watch out! Happy wife happy life, so true!
Try The Famous for yourself at Harry's Schnitzel Joint in Newcastle, New South Wales.
Find out more about Street Food options in New South Wales.