Inside a small pop-up kitchen where two other restaurants reside is On a Roll Gourmet Egg Rolls. The ultimate result of a family recipe, On a Roll offers egg rolls in a non-traditional manner. Don’t think Asian cuisine. Think of all your favorite foods rolled up and deep fried.
“What keeps people coming back are most definitely the fillings. They’re so unique. It’s familiar things in a different way. People like the familiar,” said Lisa Blackmon-Miller, all-in-one owner, operator and cook at On a Roll.
The range of fillings are endless. From cookie dough and cheesecake, shrimp and beef, to taco and cheese steak, these egg rolls offer new cuisine to satisfy any food fancy. The rolls are normally paired fried rice or crinkle fries to make a meal.
Altogether On a Roll has over 30 different flavors in its arsenal to offer on any given work day, but Blackmon-Miller normally offers about five different egg roll flavors per week.
The newest flavor to hit the On a Roll kitchen, Robin’s Roll, is filled with beef, shrimp and other surprise ingredients. It is named after one of Blackmon-Miller’s family members.
“The original recipe itself is kind of a family recipe. I got it from my sister-in-law,” Blackmon-Miller said. “She taught me how to make it. She was getting deployed to Afghanistan, and they still wanted them while she was gone.”
On a Roll runs on love and family. Most people employed with the egg roll business are either family or close family friends. The staff splits the kitchen time with two other restaurant business during the work week.
“It’s been a challenge being in a pop-up restaurant,” Blackmon-Miller said. “I have a storage area. I shop weekly and bring things in for prep. I work with two other ladies and we really don’t interfere with each other.”
But Blackmon-Miller said working alongside family makes it worthwhile.
“Working with family, it’s interesting. Me and my husband are a regular married couple. But it’s really fun working with him, my friends and my sorority sisters. They bring a different part,” she said. “They’re my lifeline in this business. They keep me in the loop. They keep me grounded. It’s a challenge, but it’s also a blessing to be able to work alongside people that you know and trust.”
Blackmon-Miller has exciting plans in the works for On a Roll. By mid- to late October, the restaurant is expected to have fully transitioned from the three-way shared pop-up kitchen into their own food trailer. The dark blue and lime green trailer will bring with it extended hours, hence the hope for more customers, more work hours and a wider variety of egg rolls offered.
“I hope to hire some outside people. My family is here as a support system, but they are coming here from their outside jobs,” she said. “I want to hire other people to work lunch and late nights once we get the food truck going. Family will still always be around. I’m going to need somebody around to help me train.”
While the exterior of the trailer is completed, the interior is still being finalized.
“Right now, we’re just hoping to get the interior done of the trailer. We have to do a good job on the interior of the trailer. We want to do the best job to serve our customers,” Blackmon-Miller said. “We just spent a pretty penny on a new suppression system. We just want to be safe. We want to do it right the first time around.”
After moving to the food truck, Blackmon-Miller has high expectations for On a Roll.
“The trailer is in the works. I’m really excited about that because we’ll be more visual other than two nights at our pop-up restaurant. I really want to do late nights,” she said. “I really want to come for the chicken-on-a-stick. I want to replace the chicken-on-a-stick here in Oxford. I want everyone to come to Oxford looking for late night foods and looking for egg rolls,”
She is prepared for the challenge. Blackmon-Miller and her family always experiment with different egg roll recipes. She said they are just looking for ways to grow and improve.
“It kind of puts me on a high to keep going when people are saying the food is good. How can I make this the greatest thing you’ve ever tasted,” she said. “I keep a pack of egg rolls at home, so whatever I’m cooking for dinner, I’m going to see if I can stuff it in an egg roll. I want people to be happy when they’re eating this because it’s made with love,” Blackmon-Miller said.
From the family ambience to the refreshing food choices, On a Roll does not stop there. Blackmon-Miller said the restaurant represents a greater purpose, and she hopes to spread a positive mission with On a Roll.
“I eventually want it to be a group where it’s on a roll where I’m walking in my purpose. I want to offer mentorship to young ladies to hone in that passion,” she said. “People are creating their own paths. I’ve created my own. I don’t want to just feed my pockets. I want to feed the spirit and feed the soul.”
On a Roll is open on Wednesday and Thursday evenings from 6:00 to 10:00pm. They are located at 2028 University Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655. More can be learned about On a Roll at oareggrolls.com.