Urban Entrées and the man behind it all

Quamaine Washington smiles during a recess with Shamaine Washington working the grill in the back. (Staff photo by Vanessa Luo)

I move for the city.

Shamaine Washington, 36 and better known as Frank Holloway, runs Urban Entrées, a popular food truck that was started in 2012. With a sanitation grade of 100.0, Shamaine Washington stands proudly by his hand-painted food truck.

Quamaine Washington takes a customer’s order. (Staff photo by Vanessa Luo)

Prior to the beginning of Urban Entrées, Shamaine Washington dabbled in a bit of everything. He grew up in the south side of Durham. Besides the food industry, he also loved music when he was young. He once owned a thrift shop, he helped install car stereos and sold washing machines and dryers. Shamaine Washington also grew up working in a restaurant. He has been cooking since he was 5 years old.

Naturally, when food trucks became popular, he was immediately taken by the idea.

“I feel like food truck is the new urban thing, that’s why I named my truck Urban Entrées,” he said. “And my motto is ‘Food With Swag.’”

Shamaine Washington followed in his mother’s footsteps. Carolyn Holloway, better known as Tootie, is no stranger to the food industry business. She recently opened a new restaurant, Tootie’s Mobile Kitchen & Catering, on 2108 Angier Avenue.

Although Shamaine Washington had experience working in a restaurant, operating a food truck was not an easy transition. As food trucks cannot support a large volume of food, Shamaine Washington had to be know his customers well to cater to them. For example, Muslims don’t eat pork, so he would recommend other dishes for them.

In the beginning, Shamaine Washington struggled a lot and even had to call in his family to help out when busy. But over time, he became accustomed to the food truck culture and even adapted some new routines. For example, he preps food the day before they’re served, rather than a few days before, so the ingredients are always fresh.

Nineteen-year-old Quamaine Washington, Shamaine Washington’s nephew, is also from Durham, and helps out at Urban Entrées when he can.

Food trucks often specialized in a few types of foods, such as pizza or burgers. But Shamaine Washington thought differently when he created the menu for Urban Entrées.

Shamaine Washington upholds his sanitation rating by washing his hands and wearing gloves before preparing the food. (Staff photo by Vanessa Luo)

“I didn’t want no specialty truck,” he said. “I didn’t want to shorten my revenue.”

And indeed, many customers flocked to Urban Entrées for its diverse menu. It features more than 20 items, from fries and salads to sandwiches. One of Shamaine Washington’s personal favorite – and also his original recipe – is the Spinach & Artichoke Philly Chicken.

But a diverse menu could also make first-time customers, and even regulars, hesitant to try something new. For that, Shamaine Washington has what he believes is the perfect solution, and the response customers receive is always the same.

“If you don’t like it, you can swap it out,” he said.

Food trucks typically don’t have money-back guarantees, but Urban Entrées does.

Without pausing, a regular looked at him and said with a laugh, “I’ll trust you.”

Shamaine Washington started the money-back guarantee for customer satisfaction. He didn’t want customers to walk away, having paid for food they don’t like. Shamaine Washington wants customers to walk away happy and full, treating Urban Entrées not just like a food truck but also a great feasting experience. Most importantly, thought, “That’s me standing behind my product,” Shamaine Washington said.

“I care about your opinion,” he said. “Everything matters. It’s not about the money.”

At another customer’s hesitancy, she heard: “We can’t go wrong.”

Like the other regular, she nodded, “I know, that’s why I keep coming back.”

Urban Entrées’ menu featuring a variety of food, including Shamaine Washington’s original recipe, Spinach & Artichoke Chicken Philly. (Staff photo by Vanessa Luo)

Shamaine Washington also maintains several social media accounts for Urban Entrées. He typically uses Facebook and Twitter.

Urban Entrées caters to customers in every way possible, from customer service to social media. Shamaine Washington truly is an entrepreneur at heart and always works with a smile.

“I want the legacy of Urban Entrées to live on.”

But he’s not finished yet.

“I always ask myself: what’s next,” he said. “What are we going to be doing next? I don’t know.”