Choosing between a food truck and a brick and mortar is difficult. There are so many things to think about: how much space do I need, what kind of brand do I want to be, do I hope to expand soon, do I want to add more menu items. With so many pros and cons that are involved, I just wanted to highlight a few of the important ones. The pros for having a food truck are that you are mobile so you can go anywhere (theoretically(you will see why I say this later on)) and make money, the costs are much lower, and it’s a freaking food truck (food trucks are dope!). The biggest con is that ice cream is obviously a seasonal food, and if you didn’t know, it rains a lot in Washington State. It rains just about from September to May (plus or minus a few weeks). But that gives about 3 solid months of nice weather and ice cream sales. Nobody would buy ice cream from a food truck when it’s pouring or snowing out. There's a reason that the ice cream man isn’t driving around in December. But we thought we could defeat this battle by also serving other rolled foods like pancakes, waffles, or crepes. Though we didn't want to stretch ourselves too thin. It was a difficult decision to make.
My brother and I looked at a few brick and mortar locations, and though some were attractive, they weren’t perfect for the price that we could afford. I really wanted a storefront because even during the winter, ice cream shops got traffic. People go there to hangout and chill with their friends. That is what I wanted, a place where people can hangout and enjoy watching us make ice cream or have a good time with friends. But we weren’t rich or have a rich investor friend. To say the least, our best option was working with a food truck.
So I got in contact with a few food truck builders around the United States and even one in Canada. Our best option was a food truck building company in California, so we began working with them. Cam, Mike, and I began discussing what we needed. “We need a big fridge to hold a bunch of cream for festivals!” said Cam. “We will need prep space to stay organized and to prep cups when they are ordered!” added Mike. It was my job to get the ice cream machine inside the truck. This planning would take a couple weeks.
Because we couldn’t participate in the paddleboarding event, we decided to host friends at our house to have a tasting and show off our new ice cream making skills. We had about 20-30 friends over and created a survey for everyone to fill out. Some of the flavors that did really well were the likes of PB & J, Cookies and Cream, and Horchata. On the flip side, some of the failing flavors were Lemon Basil and Mint Chocolate Chip (mint chocolate chip seems simple, but have you ever tried just pure mint extract before? I don’t recommend it). We learned quite a bit that day and it was very beneficial for us all. We knew there some things we needed to work on so it was back to the flavor lab for Cam!
A couple of days later, Mike sat us down and explained the reason the operating agreement is taking so long is because he was busy. I totally understood. The guy was working as an independent contractor for a couple of different companies and he was also planning his wedding that was coming up soon! Like I said, he’s busy, and it wasn’t going to change for at least a couple months. So he let us know that he would help us in any way he could and give us advise when we needed it, but he didn’t think it was best for anyone if he officially joined the company.
A few days later, I left for a business trip to Las Vegas for my day job. While there, I had to work from about 7AM until 7 PM for the company, any time after that was my own time. Obviously I ate some awesome food (I probably gained 10 pounds from Shake Shack, Secret Pizza, and Hash House A Go Go) and gambled (a lot), but I decided to take the largest gamble of all: sign the contract to begin the build of the food truck.
We got to design the whole thing from head to toe, which turned out to be a minor problem because we were not aware of certain regulations. This, my friends, is where things begin to get interesting.