University of Washington’s Foster School of Business hosts EntrepreneurWeek each year. The weeklong event includes a variety of workshops and speaking panels to promote new companies in the region. The panel, Food on Wheels – A Foodie Blogger Dishes with Food Truck Owners, was last Wednesday.
Smallfoodbiz.com blogger Jennifer Lewis led the panel discussion between four Seattle food truck owners, Josh Henderson from Skillet, Molly Nietzel from Molly Moon’s, Marshall Jett from Veraci Pizza, and Danielle Custer from Monte Cristo.
On the table for discussion were the ins and outs of owning a food truck. The panelists were honest in describing the reality of running a kitchen on wheels. The weather is a huge factor in determining profits, especially during the rainy months in Seattle. “My company is profitable four months a year,” said Nietzel, owner of Seattle’s Molly Moon’s ice cream shops and food truck. She says her food truck makes one-tenth the profit of each of her brick and mortar stores. To supplement, many food trucks offer their services for weddings and other catering events.
The speakers also stressed the importance of standing out. “We weren’t doing anything crazy, it was just crazy for Seattle. If your product is better you should do better,” Henderson said.
Despite the hardships of running a food truck, most of the panelists talked about the excitement of the food truck business. “I look at it like competition,” Henderson said. “The market will correct itself with competition.”
In addition to the panel, Veraci Pizza, Molly Moon’s, and Monte Cristo were parked on the Business Hall Promenade for visitors to purchase food. I decided to try Monte Cristo. The food truck is brand new on the Seattle food scene, and this was one of the first times it’s been open for business. Serving “gourmet mobile melts,” the truck offers a selection of grilled cheeses with decadent cheeses. I ordered the For the Love of Cheese sandwich, a grilled cheese with black mambazo, chive ladysmith, aged gouda, and peach-jalapeno-torta cheeses. It came with potato chips and a mix of pickled cauliflower and carrots. This was so good! The bread of delicious and perfectly grilled. The cheeses melted together perfectly. The chips and pickles were a great touch, it’s nice to have a variety of textures in one meal. I highly recommend this!