What's on the menu? Sandwiches, sides, and salads. Of course we offer catering as well and would tailor any menu for specific wants and needs.
Location and hours? They vary by day and location. We update our whereabouts daily on Facebook, Twitter, and our website.
How long have you been street fooding? [Ardath:] We have been in business since the spring of 2010, but both Thao and I are from cities (San Francisco and New York City) where street food is quite common, so we've both been exposed to street food for years.
Why a mobile business over brick-and-mortar? [Ardath:] Both Thao and I thought the concept of street food was (well, is!) a good fit for Raleigh and would contribute a vibrant new addition to the already interesting food scene that is going on here. Neither of us have any desire for a permanent location as the mobility is part of the appeal of what we offer.
Who are your typical customers? [Ardath:] Foodies and anyone who is hungry for a yummy meal that's filled with flavor, easy on the pocketbook, and made locally with love.
Describe a typical day from start to finish. [Thao:] I wake up around 6 a.m. and have quiet time for 30 minutes. Then, I wake my daughter Claire and get her ready for school, and from there, it's time to start prepping at the commissary...Load the truck—that's when Ardath joins me. We gas up and head for our site. We arrive at location at 10:30 a.m., set up by 10:45, and start serving at 11 until 2 p.m.
Breakdown and clean-up, then we leave the site by 2:30 p.m. and head back to the commissary to clean dishes and truck. Do some more prep. Place orders for more ingredients if necessary. Then it's time to pick up Claire by 5 p.m., help her with homework, have quality time together, and prepare dinner by 7 p.m. Maybe I get to bed by midnight, if I'm lucky. We do this six days a week!
What were you doing before this? [Thao:] Right before this, I worked at Trader Joe's. That's where I met Ardath (she also worked there). But I actually have been in the restaurant/hospitality industry since I was 15. [Ardath:] I had a "big gurl" job that I was downsized from a couple of years ago. After licking my wounds for a year and working at Trader Joe's, to keep my sanity in the interim, I met Thao who has a extensive cooking background. I remembered the popularity of food trucks from NYC—the rest is history.
What makes your food so special? Can anything else like it be found in the city? [Thao:] I am not only passionate about food, but am equally passionate about feeding people. You may say I put a lot of LOVE into it. I do food from all over the world. I believe food and atmosphere can always be copied, but it/s the service that will make you stand apart from the rest.
[Ardath:] I truly don't think there's anyone else quite like us in the area. Our food is flavorful and healthy, and our atmosphere is festive and professional. Although it's an on-going process we believe we are on the right track.
How would you define "street food"? [Thao:] It's synonymous with comfort food. Quick, easy, inexpensive, and full of flavor!
The best street food city and why. [Thao:] I lived in San Francisco most of my adult life, but I'll have to say NYC. There's also quite a bit in Vietnam! It needs to be a walking city to be a good street food city. Vendors need lots of foot traffic.
[Ardath:] NYC of course. Nowhere else has such a variety in such concentration.
Your comfort food after a long day? [Thao:] Anything with rice, including ramen.
[Ardath:] Almost anything, as long as it's made by someone other than myself.
Advice for an aspiring vendor? [Thao:] Find a good compatible partner! You don't necessarily have the same skills, but you must have the same goals and drive. It's like a marriage but worse. You spend lots of time together in a very small space and it's usually hot. I don't do well in heat (sorry Ardath!).
[Ardath:] Spend some time on a food truck that's similar in style to what you hope to create. Create a business plan and add 20-percent more for expenses than expected. Prepare to devote your entire life to a new business for at least one year until you can figure out your trends and establish some benchmarks.