The Mac 'N Noodles Prelude
Hello everyone, and welcome to the Mac ‘N Noodles blog! My name is David Sevcik and I am the founder of Mac ‘N Noodles, a Mac ‘N Cheese food truck in the Denver area. Every week or two I plan to post a new blog, detailing the Mac ‘N Noodles journey starting with concept creation years ago through where we are today. Each post will share some part of the journey, including the challenges, successes, and many lessons learned along the way. I will keep the blogs shorter in the future, but I wanted to start by giving the full back-story. I hope you enjoy reading along and will continue to follow us as we keep on keeping on.
I grew up in Cedar Falls, Iowa aspiring to be in the NBA. That was my dream. As reality and an apparent lack of growth spurt came to fruition, I realized the NBA might not be in my future. It was a tough realization, but I was immediately looking for other options. My father is a lawyer, but for some reason that never appealed to me. My two uncles, Scott and Brad, owned a few Pizza Ranch restaurants in Iowa. They seemed to be happy and were successfully able to raise their families. From my 13 year-old perspective, it looked easy. That was when I decided my backup plan was to own a restaurant.
Eight years later in 2013, I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Hotel, Restaurant, and Institution Management. Degree in hand, I was ready to conquer the world. I was young, naïve, and some might say foolish. For someone who was dead set on having a restaurant, you might say I was lacking in experience. Aside from a degree, my only experience consisted of a few months delivering pizza, 2 months working in a Dunkin Donuts, and 2 months inside a kitchen at Buffalo Wild Wings. This is where naivety took over as I got on my computer and emailed every national chain I could think of. What I learned was that no corporation or bank is willing to give a recent college graduate who is already piled under student debt a half a million dollars to start a franchise. At that point, I realized I would have to create something on my own.
I moved to Colorado on July 31st, 2013. Initially, I got a job selling running shoes at Dick’s Sporting Goods in the Flat Irons Mall. Later, I was hired onto DaVita’s team as an Onboarding and Compliance Specialist before my good friend Brian Bernhard snatched me up to be a Data Clerk at the law firm Ogletree Deakins. When Brian hired me, I told him that when I quit it will be to start my own restaurant. It was an incredibly beneficial experience being able to share my thoughts and ideas with my Brian throughout my time at Ogletree Deakins. When Brian would ask me when my restaurant was going to open, I was never quite sure if he was actually curious or just hoping the day would come when I would quit on my own so he didn’t have to fire me.
After my basketball dreams fizzled away, I channeled my athletic interest into running. As a competitive runner, I had connections to a hydration company called Nuun. I ran multiple races for Nuun as part of their Ragnar Relay teams, and eventually I became a part-time Brand Ambassador. I had never been able to travel for work, but was something I always wanted to do, so when Nuun offered me the opportunity to demo their product throughout Ragnar Colorado (a relay race from Copper Mountain to Aspen), I jumped at the opportunity. It was on this trip that I visited a restaurant at the base of Copper Mountain called Copper’s Red Hot. There was nothing extraordinary about the food selection, just your typical American foods, but while exploring the menu I was drawn to the mac ‘n cheese for some reason.
Ordering it was the best decision I have made. I don’t recall ever ordering mac ‘n cheese at a restaurant before. To be honest, I was never a fan of mac ‘n cheese growing up. It was my little brother Joey’s favorite food and I always let him have it. At meals I usually went for the potatoes, noodles, beans, or anything that had sugar in it. I’ll never know why I ordered the mac ‘n cheese that day at Copper’s Red Hot, but they say things happen for a reason.
Some might say I was desperate to get out of corporate America. Prior to my Copper Mountain trip, I was trying to create anything. I read about a peanut butter company from Boulder who struck gold through farmers markets, so I figured I could create a Dill Pickle Flavored Ranch dressing and it would sell like wildfire at farmers markets. Newsflash: I’m not good at making ranch dressing. I also thought about selling stuff on Ebay, Craigslist, and anywhere I saw others having success. I bought books on coding and thought I would create an App called Drink Up, but found coding boring. My roommates Josh, Chuy and Mandy all thought I was going crazy. I’m sure there was a bet on whether my next idea would be stupider than the previous.
I then thought about Chipotle. They took one item – the burrito – and made a restaurant around it. I thought about Papa Johns. They took pizza and made a concept around it. Starbucks built a concept around coffee. Smashburger built a concept around a hamburger. Larkburger, as well. For some reason, I never forgot about that bowl of mac ‘n cheese in Copper. If someone can take one item like a pizza, burrito, or coffee and build a concept around it, why not mac ‘n cheese? It was at that point I first asked my roommate Chuy if he thought a restaurant concept around mac ‘n cheese would work. He said something along the lines of “well, this idea isn’t as stupid as your dill flavored ranch dressing.” That’s the only encouragement I needed. Mac ‘N Noodles was off to the races!