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Mending Fences and Moving Forward

The big City Council Meeting to approve the amendment for Mobile Vending in Boulder was last Tuesday. And it PASSED! The Daily Camera published this article the next morning outlining the high lights and I am posting it here in case you missed it. Not sure that you will be able to link it directly, but cut and paste if you’re really interested.

When I walked into my commissary Wednesday morning after the meeting I felt a sense of relief I haven’t known since I started Comida last year. Even better than this, was the relief I sensed from 2 of my dedicated employees.  They had sat through the meeting as well, and they too were excited to move forward.  After all, I had raised money, invested my own money and started a mobile food truck in a city where they were banned. This made me feel reckless and more than a little foolish, and I knew I would have to work extra hard to make Comida a success. But working hard is easy when you love something, and even easier when you have a dedicated wing man at your side working equally hard to make your dream come true. I have that in Jovee, and any of you who have seen us over this last 14 months know I am speaking from my heart.  There were many days in the winter when I would show up before 8, unroll the mats, fill the sinks and begin our prep knowing we might only make $150 that day.  Even if you aren’t a whiz at math, and even if you own a bricks and mortar and think food truck ownership is easy compared to the daily efforts you may make, $150 doesn’t pay anyone’s bills. And the effort it takes to make it is the same as if you make 10 times that. Because when you do things right you show up ready. Each day we put our next foot forward, filled Tina with as much hand made deliciousness as possible, and hoped the weather would hold. And then we hoped that people would drive to some random office park parking lot. And then we hoped that people would get it: that we aren’t just out there shoving pre made junk out the window. That the word roach coach applies to another way of doing business, and that street food doesn’t mean gut bomb.

The truth is I started Comida as a truck because I didn’t have the money I knew it would take to open as a restaurant. And while many of the people opposed to food trucks have argued that this is why food trucks aren’t on a level playing field with restaurants, I will also say that the first restaurant I ever opened cost half what building Comida did. Go figure.

But none of this really means anything if what you build isn’t good. If the food you make or the way you serve it doesn’t agree with people, the amount you spend to do so matters not. I have a responsibility to the people that believed in me enough to take a risk, and I have a responsibility to myself and my husband. I wake up most days excited and ready to go. I am not a depressive person and unless my feet really ache from being on them for 14 hour stretches, I look forward to putting them back into my clogs or boots and heading out the door for more.

When I am not at work my favorite activity is eating and drinking. Second to that is yoga, which keeps my head clear and gives me a place to deal with the effects of my love for doing the former. For a little town (we hover roughly around 125,000 people, though Boulder County is over 275,000) we have a lot of choices. But within those choices I find there are really only a handful of places I crave or chose to go often. When I am working on Comida or thinking about what may be next, I often think about the reasons I go back again and again to the same spots. Inevitably the reasons are 2 fold. They have something (at least one thing) on their menu that I think about and crave. The second is that the staff knows how to be nice to people and are educated about the products they are serving. The third (I know, I said 2 fold) is that the owner of the place is somewhere in the building, usually bussing a table, running food or tossing a pie. All of the places I frequent have these things in common. And interestingly enough, NONE of them are afraid of what food trucks, given the appropriate guide lines and under the right conditions, will do to their business.

This is what I really learned from Tuesdays meeting. The people that were at the meeting speaking on behalf of their bricks and mortar establishment, were, for the most part, just trying to understand the ordinance and protect what they had built. Both things are noble causes and worth standing up for. But the ones that also understood that they have a responsibility to keep what they made great if they are to stay in business and not just blame their potential failure on an uneven playing field, were the ones the ones that will survive. And by survive I mean thrive. Because even though my father would tell me that surviving is success in a recession, thriving is more fun.

I can say that Comida is thriving. And for that I am really grateful. I haven’t found that the road to food truck ownership is paved with gold, but it pays the bills and every day we get busier. I am proud of what we are doing and really pleased that I can continue with this work on a more legal basis after this weeks meeting. But much like the ability to own and operate a restaurant doesn’t come with a guarantee for success once you get your C/O, the ability to apply for and receive a permit doesn’t guarantee people will keep coming to the truck window.

That honor we will continue to have to earn.

And so I encourage you to be well, stay tuned, and of course…. eat more truck food.


Eat Comida