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Meet Jake Patterson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jake Patterson.

Hi Jake, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Yaki first opened as a food truck in Waco, TX in September of 2020. My wife Lindsey and I are both graduates of Baylor University and had recently moved back to Waco, TX at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yaki means “cooked over a fire,” and our food reflects my love for the central Texas BBQ I grew up on and the teriyaki “meal-in-a-box” style of eating that I grew to love during our years in Portland, OR. Many of our friends in Portland and Waco have food sensitivities: gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, etc.

I wanted to open a restaurant where everyone (even picky kids!) could find something they could and would want to eat. Fifteen months after opening the food truck, we opened our first brick-and-mortar restaurant in an old Sonic Drive-In on Valley Mills Dr. Yaki is meant to be affordable and portable, a great family-friendly lunch and dinner option. We even cater weddings and workplace events!

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
The pandemic threw all business owners for a loop. Add being a first-time business owner on top of that, and the road has never been smooth. Every day has carried a new challenge. We were constantly health conscious during the pandemic because we knew that if one of us were to get sick, that meant shutting down the business until sickness passed. We couldn’t afford a closure for any amount of time in the food truck.

As we’ve opened the brick and mortar, that’s come with a whole new set of challenges. Like owning your first home, renting your first commercial space is also filled with loads of unwelcome surprises. Our 1996 Sonic needed a few parts: HVAC, refrigeration, ventilation, and a paint job. We’ve scraped the bottom and run out of money a few times since opening, but if Yaki can make it thru the worst of times, it will be there in the best, too. Wacoans have been behind us since day one, and we wouldn’t be here without them.

As you know, we’re big fans of Yaki. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
Yaki is Texas Teriyaki. Most of our menu centers around a meal-in-a-box that includes rice, your choice of protein, and a slaw salad. Because Yaki means “cooked over a fire,” we grill and smoke all of our proteins in-house like a classic BBQ joint. We’re known for our oak-smoked Chicken Box, and that’s still the first box we recommend to new customers. Every piece of chicken is cooked (by me) on a giant Weber kettle grill inside the Yaki kitchen. After your first Chicken Box, we recommend trying our smoked salmon, pulled pork, tuna poke, or veggie boxes. We even make all of our own hot sauces for the hotheads.

Our entire menu is gluten and dairy-free, and we’re proud to be one of the few places in Waco that meet those dietary needs. We operate a from-scratch kitchen in a 90s fast-food building, and we’re trying to sell Yaki as a “fast-scratch” concept for a city that loves a good fast-food franchise. I’m most proud of the way Wacoans have come around and supported us as a new business. I feel a sense of pride every time a new customer gives us a try. It feels even better when they come back a second time and bring their friends.

Any big plans?
We haven’t been in our brick-and-mortar location very long, so our plans for the future look a lot like growing sales and stabilizing our processes. We are making things official by hosting a ribbon cutting on September 30th to celebrate 2 years of being in business!

We hope that event feels like a celebration and a recognition of all the work that’s gone into building Yaki into what it is today. We know that Yaki is a food service model that can be replicated in other styles of fast-food buildings and in other small to mid-size towns in Texas.


  • Chicken Box – $9
  • Nug Box – $10
  • Waffle Fries – $3
  • Pulled Pork Box – $12
  • Smoked Salmon Box – $13

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Lucy Macleish Photography and Rachel Caldwell Photography

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