START-UP BUSINESS LESSONS
Reminiscing on Day 1, Bloktoberfest 2009
Bloktoberfest 2010 is about to be upon us on Saturday, October 16 from noon – 8pm – an incredibly fun block party on the 2000 block of Christian just a few blocks south of South Street. Last year’s Blocktoberfest was our first day ever in business. We met Josh Dubin, the event’s organizer in late September of last year at a mutual friend’s birthday party. The truck wasn’t yet painted, it didn’t have a serving window or brake lights and we hadn’t yet passed health inspection. When Josh gave us the official invite we scrambled working around the clock for the next few weeks to get everything finished for the launch day. About two days prior to the event we passed our health inspection with flying colors and were just about ready for go time minus the paint job on the back doors of the truck.
After health inspection it was straight to the kitchen but we had no idea how much food to cook. It was going to be our first day in business for a crowd that promised to be much larger than what we were expecting on an average day. We took the recipes we had used for our pre-launch tasting parties, multiplied the amounts times about 14 and crossed our fingers hoping for the best.
When we arrived on Christian Street we hadn’t attached the ventilation fan on the top of the truck yet so I got up and attempted to connect the wires the way our mechanic had instructed us. Despite all his warnings I managed to zap myself into a little electrocution dance (to the great distress of some woman watching me below – fortunately the electric shock wasn’t so bad and I maintained my balance on the roof to get down safely).
As soon as I got down we had our second run with the Phila Dept of Health for a flash inspection. Again we passed with a great score but the intrusion slowed down our already lagging set up for our first day in business. To make matters crazier, almost as soon as the inspector left our truck our water line burst spraying water all over the truck. We rushed to patch up the line before we lost too much water (duct tape really is the greatest invention known to food trucks). It wasn’t until an hour and a half after people started flooding the block when we were able to serve the first Coup de Tacos known to man.
Six hours and about three inches of rain later we had completed our first day in business, which remains one of our most successful days recorded. This year’s Bloktoberfest will mark just about our 1 year anniversary and will serve as a measuring stick to see how far we’ve come. Hope to see you there!