I often learn about new food trucks as they are in their final stages of development and menus are being tested, or when they open a Twitter account.
So it was with that on March 13, 2013 that I first heard rumors that Fugo Food Truck was about to hit the road. Six weeks later they were listed on FoodTrucksIn, and a few weeks later on May 18, bingo! Their opening!
Then, my first meal at Fugo Food Truck was on May 28th. It was a memorable for more than just the inventive, fresh, tasty meal. As I was walking up to the truck the guys from Clam Jammers food truck parked next to me. They were also heading over to Fugo to say hi and taste their food for the very first time.
So, there we were the 5 of us, Jason and Nino from Fugo, Brent and Paul from Clam Jammers and me standing around, chatting and eating and having a great time. And, in the process, I'm pretty sure we tried half of their menu that afternoon.
Jason and Nina have completed their first successful season and are currently using the winter months preparing for their 2014 season.
I reached out to them to learn what they planned to "fuse" from their 2013 experience into their 2014 plans:
Eric: I understand that you decide to take the truck off the road for a couple of winter months before the 2014 season. Are you enjoying the winter off?
Jason & Nina: Hardly! We are getting much needed mechanical repairs and maintenance done and out of the way before the season starts up again. We're also taking the time to map out the year and figure out which events we want to attend.
Eric: How did the idea for Fugo Food Truck come together?
Jason & Nina: We always wanted to open a brick and mortar restaurant or a catering business. Our backgrounds have always been food related and a restaurant was always a dream. Jason had worked for MGM Grand at Foxwoods, and the Renaissance hotel. Nina, still works full time as an Analyst at Panagora Asset Management, and has worked as a chef in the past. We put Nina's experience as an analyst to good use. We realized the overhead costs of a restaurant are just too much for us to take on at this point in our lives. Since food trucks/carts and street food in general have become more mainstream in the US recently, we figured a food truck would be a great alternative to the traditional brick and mortar operation.
Eric: Fugo! What does it mean?
Jason & Nina: Fugo, short for FUsion GOurmet.
Eric: How would you describe your food?
Jason & Nina: Fusion! Innovative and fun. A mix of Latin and Asian flavors.
Eric: Tell me a bit about your menu and food!
Jason & Nina: Our food does not follow any rules or guidelines in regards to menu development. It gives us the freedom to be as creative as we would like. We believe our creativity and adventurous spirit make us stand out from other trucks in New England. Our most unique item is our Chorizo Bocadillos. Our most popular items are our Shrimp Tempura Lettuce Wraps in warmer weather, and Fugo Wings and Chorizo Bocadillos in the colder months.
Eric: What is a Bocadillo?
Jason & Nina: Bocadillo - directly translated it means "little bites". On Spanish tapas menus it refers to "small sandwiches" or "sliders". Our Bocadillos are small sandwiches.
Eric: You have just completed your first season in the truck. Looking back to the 2013 season what did you learn?
Jason & Nina: We expected to open with a boom and expected people to be lining up for our food the very first week we were open, much like what we see at restaurant openings. However none of that happened, instead we were lucky to even get 15 customers a day. We had in our minds that our food was something new and exciting to hit the streets of Providence, and that customers would be excited with us but unfortunately that was not the case. We didn't make a "name" for ourselves until 2-3 months down the line.
Eric: Can you share a couple of highlights from your first season on the road?
Jason & Nina: One of the most memorable days was when we were featured on the Rhode Show to prepare our Shrimp Tempura Lettuce Wrap for the cooking segment. It was awesome to serve our food to the Rhode Show hosts. (show clip) We were also honored in October to have been awarded the Most Creative Dish at the Food Truck Bash.
Eric: What can you share with your customers about running your truck?
Jason & Nina: Occasionally customers get upset when we tell them we are sold out of a particular item. We are very careful to not waste food. In our eyes running out of food is better than having food leftover and wasted. Preparing fresh food daily is essential to provide quality food, and throwing away leftover food is just heartbreaking. Also it isn't as easy or inexpensive to run a food truck as most people believe it to be. We love what we are doing, but for us it is 25% fun and 75% really hard work.
Eric: So, what does the future look like?
Jason & Nina: Even though it is a lot of hard work we have fallen in love with the food truck world and have met a lot of great food truck friends along the way. Our ultimate goal is still to pursue our dream of opening a brick and mortar establishment. We hope that our success as a food truck business will carry over into our restaurant. Hopefully our current customer base will be happy to have Fugo food available to them year-round, and they will support our businesses both on wheels and off.
Eric: Lastly, are there any food trucks out there that you have been longing to try yourselves?
Jason & Nina: Seoul Sausage and White Rabbit in Los Angeles, and FukuBurger in Las Vegas.
You can learn more about Fugo Food Truck and where to find them in the Providence, RI area at http://www.foodtrucksin.com/fugo-food-truck.
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