We had the opportunity to sit down with Paul and Janee, owner's of the Kensington, Maryland streets' newest food truck, El Pollo Submarine. We discussed their food truck design, the unexpected bumps along the way, and what tips they have for food truck success.
Our main item is a savory chicken sub, or submarine. Chicken in Spanish translates to “Pollo”. As fans of the Beatles, “El Pollo Submarine” ala “The Yellow Submarine” instantly came to mind.
We drew our initial inspiration from the colorful and vibrant native artwork of El Salvador. Since the name of our truck is a play on “The Yellow Submarine,” we also wanted to incorporate the 60’s style artwork of the album. We then set Nicole upon the difficult task of tastefully mixing these two concepts together, which she pulled off flawlessly!
Salvadoran comfort food. Mainly: Pupusas, Chicken Sub, Enchiladas (Salvadoran Tostadas).
Janee had always daydreamed about owning a food truck, but never considered it a realistic possibility. Paul had always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but couldn’t come up with the right idea for his first business. After dating for a couple years, we decided that together we could make our dreams a reality.
The most important feature to a food truck website is a calendar that displays a weekly location schedule. Next to that, contact information is essential to book catering gigs. And while we almost forgot to mention the menu, we realize that as a food truck you’ll rely on being seen or spotted. The menu will be on the truck, but you have to attract people to your truck first before they are compelled to look you up online. Having the menu on the website is only useful once people are interested or hungry enough to know who you are, and where you’ll be next.
Aside from taking the leap and leaving the prospect of a “stable career,” the hardest thing we’ve had to deal with to date was getting our truck in good running condition. While you should trust your vendor to deliver a fully functioning truck, you should never doubt that mistakes can be made, and accidents can happen. Ours broke down after 10 minutes of driving it for the first time, and we were stuck trying to get a tow truck during rush hour traffic. Not all tow trucks can tow other trucks, and while it seems obvious to us now, we learned it the hard way. We called several tow companies, all of which denied our request. It took us three hours of waiting under the summer sun on the shoulder to finally find a company capable of helping us.
Cooking delicious food is just a small fraction of what you’ll do as a food truck owner. Starting and running a food truck business is a larger project than we anticipated, and you must be prepared to manage numerous tasks. Communication is key! Without effective communication you run the risk of a project steering off course. Unless you’re the type who likes to learn the hard way, our business tip to help you succeed would be to consider taking a few courses in project management before undertaking a food truck business.
Remember this: there is no food truck without a truck. The truck itself is the business’ biggest asset. Without a properly running truck, you have NO means of conducting business. Our truck was in bad shape when we first received it. Sometimes things go wrong, so our words of wisdom are: “expect the best, but plan for the worst.” If you plan for the worst, you’ll be one step ahead when things inevitably don’t go as planned. The saying “time is money” cannot be more true in the food truck business. Time not spent networking, catering or vending are missed opportunities and money not being made. How well you anticipate and bounce back from major and even minor setbacks will determine your success in this business.
Our favorite item is found in the name of our truck, the chicken “pollo” sub! Although any one of our dishes can be a favorite depending on what mood we’re in.
The best part of working with Design Womb was seeing our concept come to life. There’s something quite special about trusting someone to personify your food truck in such a way that it evokes an identity beyond your own. We no longer view our food truck as merely a vehicle that can cook and sell food. A food truck with a brand is more than that. Thanks to Design Womb, our food truck is a key team player who markets and advertises for us in a visual way. Not only is it a mobile kitchen, it’s a mobile billboard…our mascot.
August 16, 2016 | BY Aleksa Narbutaitis
Whose gluten free and rapidly stealing the spotlight? Cider, that’s who. These brands are the up and coming players in spirits, and they’re no exception when it comes to craft cider packaging design. Mint, jalapeno, basil, elderberry, cherry; these are just some of the flavors incorporated in new craft ciders that provide plenty of space for play both in packaging design and on your taste buds.
Cider packaging design has historically focused on apples, orchards, trees, or some combination thereof, which is a huge contributor to the perception of all ciders being extremely sweet. Although some brands still pay homage to the drink’s main ingredient and its roots, the incorporation of new, eccentric ingredients and flavors have opened up a new world of creative packaging design. For example, Seattle Cider Company, New Belgium, and Shacksbury all have their own takes on dry, semi-dry, and semi-sweet ciders. This evolution has allowed cider to become a drink to be enjoyed all year round, not just in the summer months, which opens up even more possibilities for the composition of the drink as well as its design. Demographic trends are impacting this industry too. Hard. Although ciders have always been incredibly popular amongst younger women, the results are in, and guys like cider too. Who knew? This has led to a large gravitation towards an outdoorsy, craftsman-like, vintage, and more gender neutral design aesthetic in the cider realm to appeal to all consumers. Perhaps this is cider’s way of sneaking in on beer packaging design territory… Whatever it is, it’s working.
As more consumers opt for a healthier, gluten free, and in some cases, organic drink option on Friday night, craft ciders are only going to grow from here. Not only is cider a top choice for the health-conscious and/or calorie-counting population (is cider really that much better? haha), but the spirit is quickly becoming on par with beer and wine as a drink menu staple for all occasions. Craft cider will only become more synonymous with beer as small batches, unique bottles and cans, and targeted packaging design continue to become the norm. The majority of craft cider drinkers are coming from the craft beer world (Perhaps they are also trying to reel in some wine drinkers? Some of the really dry ones are almost champagne-like, have you had?). Bottom line, the same level of quality from the overall brand is expected. They want to know where the ingredients that are in that bottle or can came from, what makes these ingredients special, and they want to know the story behind who made it and why. These are important elements to include in the essence of each craft cider’s packaging design to continue to capture that market and eventually position cider as a premium drink. (People shop with their eyes first, after all.) With a larger emphasis on quality and taste, the relationship that a craft cider brand can create between its product and its consumers is going to make a difference and build strong brand loyalty that will keep them coming back, similar to what has worked for craft beer packaging design. Will, then, brand loyalty shift to the smaller, lesser known, craft cider with a story?
August 03, 2016 | BY Aleksa Narbutaitis