The Alzheimer’s Walk
My mother often repeated a phrase that went something like this: "You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar." Put otherwise, friendliness and kindness will get you further than anger or demand. The older I get, the more I realize the universality of my mother’s wisdom. I consistently find that it is the relationships you build that will help you succeed.
The food truck community in Denver is very communal. Outside of the token confrontationists, the vast majority of us enjoy helping each other out. Speaking from personal experience, I can honestly say that it is much more fun to make a call to a friend than to decline an opportunity.
In fact, this is how I received my first few gigs. I remember meeting Michelle on a rainy day at Denver food truck licensing. Michelle owns Maui Shaved Ice (which I would highly recommend trying). I was a starry-eyed rookie receiver looking for his first touchdown pass from John Elway. Michelle and I had been talking and I explained my concept to her. It was then that she informed me about the Alzheimer’s Walk that was coming up. The vendors were still looking to fill one more spot, and for whatever reason, she saw potential in my concept and gave me a shot.
After eagerly agreeing to participate, I realized I had a slight problem. The truck was not going to be wrapped for two weeks, which meant I had a large, used, white truck. That’s it. Nevertheless, I had just passed the health licensing and I wanted to give this event a shot, so I immediately went to FedEx and printed a 2 foot by 4 foot white banner. It looked Terrible, with a capital T. Nevertheless, I put it on for my city and decided to give it a shot.
I was told that I needed to arrive by 8 a.m. Saturday morning for the Alzheimer’s Walk. Determined not to be late, I left work after lunch on Friday. Never in my life had I prepared for an event like this. The most people I had ever cooked for at one time was 40. Let’s just say I misjudged this one.
After leaving work, I headed straight to King Sooper’s. I was prepared to make a large purchase and grabbed two carts. I was not playing games. The first stop was for milk where I more or less emptied the cooler. Next I grabbed noodles, chicken and chorizo. Then, I found my way to the vegetables and the secret stuff—which turns the mac’n into Mac’n. I could hardly see out of my car window by the time I finished packing it to the brim with my food purchase.
I began cooking as soon as I arrived at the commissary. It was only then that I started to realize how long this was going to take. 6 p.m. became 8 p.m. and 8 p.m. became midnight. I knew I was in for a sleepless night. The only break I took all night was when I drove my roommate to the airport at 5 a.m, after which I went straight back to cooking until 7 a.m. Even after all these hours though, I knew I was not prepared. Nevertheless, I knew not to be late so I packed the truck and headed out to the event. As I was cruising down Santa Fe I struck a pothole (thanks Denver roads) and heard a bang. In the rearview mirror I could see the refrigerator doors fly open and the noodles fall to the floor. My stomach turned inside me....
When I arrived at the event I went to the back of the truck to check the carnage, where I also found the cheese sauce all over the floor with the noodles. Devastated, I walked to the event director to explain what happened. I remember sheepishly saying, “Hey, sorry. I cannot serve today . . . all my food is on the floor. I really apologize.” They were counting on me and I let them down. The fiasco also turned into a $500 learning experience for me. So, what’s the main piece of advice I give to new food truck owners? “LOCK YO FRIDGE.”
So there it was: my first trip in the Mac Mobile failed.
Next up: Prost Brewery.