“Location, Location, Location.” You know the saying, it’s the “key” to real estate success—what makes a half a million dollars’ worth of bricks and mortar worth a million in the right place, and what commercial brokers push when selling and leasing retail storefronts. Obviously, restaurants rely on location. And in the fast-growing food truck world, location—or, actually, ever-changing location—is where it’s at, too.
But let’s face it. Part of the fun of ordering food from a mobile kitchen comes from the fact that the food gets made in a truck. There’s something cool about the “It’s here now, so take advantage of the moment, carpe take out!” atmosphere of a food truck. You seize the day, have a meal, and then await the twitter feed on where to head the next time you get a hankering for that truck’s particular brand of food on the go.
That is, unless your city is one that permits food trucks as Permanent Itinerant Vendors. Yup. You read the oxymoron. “Permanent” and “itinerant” in the same defining category. So our trailer specializes in “fixed” mobile cuisine. That is, we’ve always been tethered to a mega-electric pole on a 1-way side street leading towards the plaza in our small, brown town. Other cities, like Portland, OR, require mobile vendors to “park” in a special zone—grouped together in a zone that translates as “strength in numbers.” It feels like a “the more the merrier” party atmosphere, one that is uniquely urban, and not at all the case in Santa Fe. Here in “the City Different” we do things, well…, differently. It’s each truck stalled in 1 spot on its own for now, meaning that the mobile food scene hasn’t REALLY made its way to Santa Fe yet. Not like elsewhere.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. For a while, our vacant parking lot felt great. We shone out from the asphalt lot all silver and gleaming, our bloc-printed prayer flags flying, and gigantic, light-strung spoon beckoning. We drew a crowd from the nearby offices, small hotels and B&Bs. And we loved our cast of regular characters who’d stop by daily or at least once a week to sample our homespun fare. Tuesdays meant Pamela for Caribbean Black Bean, Mondays brought Cliff, and Keith often came by for Mulligatawny on Wednesdays. Daily paella and egg salad sandwiches sent Earl our way from around the corner, and dark coffee at a reduced price was something Ari had come to count on midmornings. And Whitman. I miss him! And Maryanne… and the students from Santa Fe Prep.
But nearby, the buildings have emptied and foot traffic slowed. And with that, our cash register read outs scream a sad truth—our location, as much as we’ve grown to love it, can’t sustain us anymore. So what do we do? We’re mobile right? Hitch Slurp to a truck and park somewhere new. It’s what our Facebook friends hear we might do. And we really might! There have been some good ideas tossed our way in terms of other locations in town to consider. But what if we were truly mobile? A kind of virtual café taking our paella and our mini-Airstream café on the road like we did this summer to Tulsa (read all about it in the archived post). What if we served up tasty inspiration via this blog and a book/ebook /app that chronicled our adventures discovering the countless others out there working from inside their own Airstream enterprises? We would cook and create community alongside other like-minded trailer biz owners, and offer photos, nuggets of wisdom, and recipes from road, plus tell the stories of other Airstream entrepreneurs selling food and vintage clothing, organic vegetables grown on site, handcrafts and haircuts and art. More than just serving meals or selling wares, we see these mobile business pioneers as trailblazers. Their fresh new take on small business is wildly changing the nation’s culinary and design landscapes and we think their stories need to be told.
I read a couple of blogs each morning when I wake up. Two are thought-provoking “inspirational” type blogs, and 2 are mini “design” magazines that tell me about cool things happening in the vast “lifestyle” category that covers the world. I heard about the Brooklyn Grange that way—maybe the coolest rooftop garden concept in the world! And I got inspired to break out the lino blocks for printmaking in a friend’s fledgling studio after reading about a handcrafter in Atlanta. There are restaurant reviews in my inbox daily from Dallas, Chicago, New York, and LA, and food truck maps arrive each week from San Francisco’s Off the Grid mobile food network.
What if we “trusted in Paella” (read archived blog of same name) to help us explore a greater, commercial Airstream community beyond our rounded walls? Would you wanna’ hear about what’s happening out there in Airstreams in Wichita, Fayetteville, and Austin, or off the coast of Maine?
We think that wherever they park—for the day, or more permanently—these Airstream entrepreneurs create community on site, and stand as hallmarks of our changed economy. They serve as symbols of forward-thinking urban planning. Plus, the people behind the trucks really are fascinating. What if we made it our jobs to tell their tales? To set our soup ladles down for the time being and dish out an accessible cookbook and travel chronicle full of tested recipes–recipes for meals, the entrepreneurial spirit, and for “the good life.” Recipes and “slice of life” tales tailored to inspire you as avid food truck followers. Would you read it? Let us hear!