Father, daughter cook up traveling restaurant business

A winning eBay bid on a mobile restaurant gave the family members a new occupation.

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Father and daughter duo Keith Knotts (center) and Annie Goff (right) serve up barbeque to customer Matthew Joscelyn out of the "West of the Blues" barbeque wagon parked outside Tumac on West Rose Street. Knotts and Goff make their dishes, including pastries, almost entirely from scratch in the 7-foot by 17-foot trailer that srves as their place of business. This weekend the duo will be parked outside Le Chateau Winery near the airport for Winter Barrel Tasting.

WALLA WALLA - Paying several thousand dollars for a used concession trailer sight unseen - other than photos on eBay - was a bit of a gamble for Annie Goff and Keith Knotts.

"We took a chance," Knotts said casually.

His daughter agreed, though Goff had some concerns about her father's idea. "I said bid on it, but don't go too high, only go to a certain point to get it."

That's what Knott's did more than two years ago. Knotts simply put in the most he was willing to pay and walked away. But he checked eBay at least once a day.

They won and began their journey as co-owners and operaters of West of the Blues Barbeque.

After putting a deposit on his winning bid, Knotts flew to Los Angeles and determined his mobile kitchen was everything the seller had said. He towed the taco truck home.

A few adjustments were made to the 17-foot by 7-foot trailer, like bringing in a professional stove and oven, and the father-and-daughter team were ready.

But was Walla Walla ready for them?

"It took awhile to get people to overcome the stigma of buying food from a mobile vendor," Knotts said.

They gambled again and stationed the mobile restaurant at the Tumac Outdoor Equipment parking lot at 902 W. Rose St.

Two years later, the pulled pork, Texas-style beef brisket, barbecued beans and homemade coleslaw are still being plated in the same parking lot, Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Now when their trailer doesn't set up for the day, as during the recent snowstorm, Knotts said he hears about it from loyal customers. "They will call up and say, ‘Where are you guys? I came in for a sandwich.'"

On weekends, the team will tow their trailer to events like barrel racing at the fairgrounds or Holiday Barrel Tasting at the Walla Walla Airport Complex.

They are also starting to serve some food items at other vendor facilities. People who grab a latte and a scone in the morning may have unknowingly eaten some items prepared in the West of the Blues kitchen.

About a year ago, Goff said she wanted to find more ways to earn income out of their kitchen. So she started supplying baked goods to local coffee houses, such as Blue Moon Coffee Shop or Dutch Bros.

She bakes in the evenings because it is too cramped and busy during the regular lunch hours at Tumac.

On weeknights she will go to her father's house, where the trailer is parked, do her baking and visit with family at a big dinner.

Family seems to be what West of the Blues Barbeque is all about.

On Saturday morning, as father and daughter prepared a Cajun gumbo and gyros for the Holiday Barrel Tasting crowd, Goff's 2-year-old daughter, Gianna, and grandfather, Howard Knotts, entertained themselves outside, until it got too cold and both came in to the small kitchen.

"It does help that dad is the boss because I do bring my daughter to work everyday," she said.

Even grandfather Knotts has an occasional stint in the kitchen. When it first opened, Goff was pregnant with Gianna. So her grandfather took her place.

"I helped him get started. I didn't do any cooking. But somebody has to wash the dishes and peel the potatoes," Howard Knotts said.

Goff likes to point out that "dad does the cooking."

When asked how she liked working with her father, she said, "I guess the good part is that he is my dad. And the not-so-good part is that his is my dad."

She added, "You can't fire each other. And you try not to ruffle any feathers because at the end of the day he is still my dad."

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