Olé Latte Coffee Food Cart Opens Second Location at PSU! SW 5th and Harrison – Growing Your Food Cart Brand!
Back on April 8th, 2014, Todd Edwards opened his second Ole Latte Coffee Food Cart at PSU on SW 5th and Harrison !
I was lucky enough to be there that day to celebrate this GR8 achievement with Todd.
Ole Latte Coffee – My Favorite Coffee In Portland
Say what you will. My favorite coffee is the coffee that Todd serves at Ole Latte. Always smooth, and full of flavor. It never tastes bitter or burned. For me, it is a perfect cup of deep, rich coffee.
Follow Ole Latte Coffee
Facebook – www.facebook.com/OleLatteCoffee
Twitter – www.twitter.com/OleLatteCoffee
A Successful Startup!
Not only does Todd make amazing coffee, Todd has done a magnificent job leading his startup!
Opening his second cart is a huge achievement!!!
Let me tell you why this is such a huge achievement and why I am so proud of Todd!
Growing Your Food Cart Brand
Getting to Day One is a Big Deal!
Food Cart owners face many hurdles. Even before the cart opens they have obstacles and challenges. Finding a cart, nailing down their brand and brand story, finding a place to put the cart, getting the cart approved so that they can open, finalizing the menu, etc. etc.
When a Food Cart owner finally opens their Food Cart and has their first day of business that is a big accomplishment! I call that their Day One.
Before The Food Cart Opens
On Day One they may or they may not have a fan base yet. Many Food Carts owners begin using social media to tell their brand story even before their Food Cart opens.
Big Ass Sandwiches did this very well. Lisa Wood was using social media, including Twitter, to tell the Big Ass Sandwiches brand story before their Food Cart ever opened.
Dave Elkin is doing that right now with the Bacon PDX Food Cart. Dave has been using Facebook and Twitter to tell his brand story and build a fan base before his Food Cart is even open.
Follow Bacon PDX
Facebook – www.facebook.com/BaconPDX
Day Two Onward
Once they get their Food Cart open, Food Cart owners get to begin selling the food they are passionate about and building a fan base — i.e. a tribe of people who love the food they are serving and have embraced their brand story and who really want to see them succeed and are willing to spend their hard earned cash at the cart.
The more committed fans will even help tell the brand story by retweeting, and sharing Facebook posts and telling their friends, family and coworkers about the cart and it’s journey.
Once they get the cart open, Food Cart owners also get to start preparing for a Grand Opening and many of them get to begin working 6 and sometimes 7 days week working 12-16-18 hours a day. This kind of grueling schedule can go own for 6-12 months.
The First Winter
The amount of effort and work needed to even get to a Day Two in a Food Cart is immerse. I get that. I really do.
For me an even bigger accomplishment is getting through the first winter.
Believe it or not, it rains in Portland once in a while and because of this, many Food Carts make most of their money from April – October.
Imagine if you got a regular paycheck 6 months out of the year and got a pittance the other 6 months of the year.
Successful Food Cart owners build a tribe who support them and frequent them regularly. That loyal tribe can make a big difference the second winter.
They will go to your Food Cart in the dead of winter because they want to see you make it and they know that you desperately need paying customers in the slow season.
However, many Food Carts don’t yet have the a well developed tribe in place when they hit their first cold, barren January and February.
When Carts Die
Many Food Carts go out of business in Jan, February and March.
In March of 2013 I was talking to the owner of Food Cart I loved. They were in a prominent Food Cart pod that gets LOTS of business. This Food Cart had opened in the spring of 2012. They were at the tail end of their first winter. As we stood there in the driving rain, He told me that he was shutting down the very next week. I was shocked and saddened.
I told him “Hey April is coming! By the middle of May you will be doing great!” He couldn’t make it another 6 weeks. The drop of income over the winter had been too brutal.
I love it when a Food Cart opens. I love it even more when they make through their first winter and and are still open when May and June come around.
One Cart is Not Enough
Here is some very tough news. Most of the time Food Cart owners open their Food Cart because they want a better life and they are giving it all they have to bootstrap their way to that better life.
For many of them, by the time they have reached their second summer they begin realize that they aren’t going to make enough money with just one cart to ever be able to live the better life they have imagined.
For a lot of them, If they stick with only one cart, they will be broke and struggle financially until they close that cart and move on to do something else.
It is an ache to me when I meet a new Food Cart owners who thinks that the one cart they just opened is going to make them money hand over fist and let them begin with a schedule that has them only working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. That rarely happens here in Portland.
Conversely, it is a huge joy to me when I meet a new Food Cart owner who is building a brand, not opening a Food Cart. Those kind of Food Cart owners see their just opened Food Cart as the first step in a larger well thought out plan that is tied to a brand and not a Food Cart.
Extend Your Food Cart Brand.
Open a Second Cart OR Go Brick and Mortar OR Sell Merchandise.
You can trudge along with your one Food Cart. Another option is to extend your Food Cart brand.
You can open a second cart like Todd has just done with Ole Latte Coffee, you can go brick and mortar like Rick Gencarelli has done so well with Lardo, or you can begin to sell merchandise like A Cajun Life and Gaufre Gourmet is doing.
I know that might sound tough. It is tough and it is a lot of work.
When I interviewed Bo Kwon, founder of Koi Fusion for his chapter in Portland Food Cart Stories, he shared with me that the transition from one cart to two carts was one of the hardest things that he ever had to do while building Koi Fusion. It required him to learn new skills and it stretched him a lot. It was also totally worth it.
If you are a Food Cart owner – the idea of extending your Food Cart brand like I am suggesting might sound awful to you, however, doing the work needed to extend your Food Cart brand might be preferable to ending up closing the cart and moving onto do something else.
Well Done Todd! Well Done!
I was there before Todd’s cart opened. We sat in a hot tub and looked at the stars and talked about the business he was going to build.
I was there at his grand opening at the non defunct Green Castle Food Cart Pod.
I know people who told both Todd and me that he would not make it.
I knew those people were wrong. I knew that he would make it and I am so happy for the success that he has had so far.
Todd – Congratulations on getting your second Food Cart opened! You have set an example that many Food Carts owners would do well to follow.
Stay Caffeinated My Friend!
I am Steven Shomler and I am a Fan of Portland’s Great Food Carts.
Website – www.portlandfoodcartadventures.com
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For information on my first book in the Bootstrap Chef Series –
Portland Food Cart Stories: Behind the Scenes with the City’s Culinary Entrepreneurs go to
Website – www.PortlandFoodCartStories.com
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Twitter – www.twitter.com/BootstrapChef