The cast of ABC’s “Shark Tank” got a taste of an Old Hickory food truck veteran who started at the Wilson County Fair and left the show with a $200,000 investment.
Fried Green Tomatoes Food Truck founder Holly Cooper appeared on the show May 1, although the episode was taped last June. Cooper, who started the food truck in 2012, presented her case for a $200,000 investment in exchange for partial ownership of the business.
Barbara Corcoran responded with her vision for the company, likening the food truck to Cousins Maine Lobster, which appeared on the show in 2012.
“I’m your dream partner, but I’m going to have to be very well paid because I can do so much for you, and I can make you rich in two years,” said Corcoran, who calculated the food truck could make $6,400 a day or $3 million a year if it stayed open six or seven days a week.
Cooper said the food truck and business netted about $270,000 in 2018. She chose to partner with Corcoran with an investment of $200,000 for 30 percent stake in the company. Cooper originally offered 15 percent ownership. The new money might be used to franchise the business.
“It was worth giving up a little more equity to get Barbara, because I knew she had the experience to do what we needed, and she was the shark I was after,” Cooper said.
The former saleswoman said her appearance on the show was beyond comprehension.
“It was great, obviously. Just having the opportunity to go on the show is amazing. It was very, very intimidating, too. When those doors open, it’s like ‘Oh, my God.’ It was a pretty crazy feeling. It was unlike any feeling I’ve ever had. I’m glad we had the opportunity to do it,” she said.
The former Mt. Juliet resident who currently lives in Old Hickory said she started the food truck in 2012 after she was fired from a sales position.
Prior to that, Cooper was involved in several aspects of the restaurant industry, including being a partner in the Blue Goose Cafe in Hendersonville and managing the Hermitage House Smorgasbord.
She said she wanted to own her next business to eliminate uncertainty about her career.
“I was like, ‘Oh my God. I’m never going to get a job,’ ” Cooper said. “I always made fried green tomatoes for friends and neighbors and dock parties down at the lake.”
Cooper’s first event with the food truck was the Wilson County Fair.
“I thought it would be the perfect place to showcase our business,” said Cooper, who said she was persistent in pursuing an opportunity at the nationally recognized fair. The former Fairest of the Fair contestant said after a shaky first night, the food truck’s success quickly climbed.
“We immediately had a lot of success. In three days at the fair, I paid for my whole investment,” she said.
In 2016, Fried Green Tomatoes began selling packaged breading and its Secret Sauce in retail stores throughout the country, as well as Canada and Mexico.