Today, I woke up to a message from a friend telling me that my old Korean taco food truck got some love in a local online publication. I read it and for the first time felt nostalgic for my brief food truck venture. I’ve tried to completely wipe the experience from my memory, but the column made me look back on it with a little fondness. I guess we did have a little bit of fun.
|My sister-in-law designed our logo and my wife insisted we put fresh flowers in the window. We served good food and looked good doing it.|
Our only blog from 2012 made mention of our idea, but then we never spoke another word about it. Which is surprising considering all of the blood, sweat and tears that went into it. In April of 2012, we opened Taco Sherpa in Chattanooga, TN. We served Korean tacos and rice bowls that married the best tastes of Korea with those of Mexico. We were determined to take our Korean experience and apply it to our life in the States.
We drove to just outside New York City to buy what was once Bubba’s food truck, a greasy extension of Bubba’s Doghouse a well-known establishment on the Jersey Shore. His claim to fame, besides his food, was he sometimes would party with Snooki and the Jersey Shore cast.
Over two days we drove Bubba’s truck back to Tennessee with shot springs on one side of the truck that caused it to lean heavily to the passenger’s side. The exhaust nearly asphyxiated Lindsay who was following close behind to block the expired New Jersey tags. How we didn’t pulled over and arrested somewhere on Interstate 81, I will never understand.
|We served Korean style meat/tofu on a corn tortilla with veggies and Sherpa sauce.|
We cleaned it for about a month and then took it to get our logo wrapped on it. When I went to pick it up early one Saturday morning from the print company, it was gone. The owner thought I had an extra key and had picked it up the night before. The police were called and the staff at the printing company joked about how it was probably parked behind the shady motel across the street. We were certain we had just lost everything.
Where was it? Behind the shady motel, just a few hundred yards from where it had been. Lindsay actually found it as she looked around from the driver’s seat of our car on the way to our niece’s birthday party. I had just chided her for her naiveté. How on Earth were we going to spot it? Certainly it would be in a garage being stripped of its parts. But there it was behind a tractor trailer with a stripped ignition from where it had been hot wired. Seemingly a prank by some bored locals. For us, it proved to be good publicity.
|Just hours before it was stolen. This was our only photo to identify our newly wrapped truck.|
Cut to opening day a few weeks later. We sold out in an hour. But I knew from that day I was in over my head.
We had a busy summer. We made a few fans, served (in my opinion) good food, and plugged into the amazing food truck community in Chattanooga. But by winter, it wasn’t worth going out. People weren’t eating off food trucks in December, and we had lost our will to make it work. We were done.
From Korea, we sold the truck to a gentleman from Ohio where it continues to serve Korean tacos. From what I can tell, it’s doing well. But until today, I have barely checked up on them. For some reason, I just didn’t want to see that truck again.
That’s the short story. Running a food truck is a labor of love. I just wasn’t passionate about cooking for people.
But that’s not what I am remembering today. I’m thinking about the brand my wife and I built, all of the support I got from friends and family and the kind people I met. I am also remembering the delicious and well-earned beer with my co-worker, other food truck owners and my wife while my kid toddled around at the end of Chattanooga Market as the sun was setting. I was exhausted and thrilled to have had a good day and we all simply basked in the glow of a beautiful Tennessee sky. In that moment, I was exactly where I was supposed to be.