Starting a Food Truck Business Interview #3

15 Jan

Food Truck FAQ With Mei Mei Street Kitchen

Welcome to the latest interview in a series we are conducting on how to open a food truck business. As food trucks become increasingly popular, we know that more and more savvy and adventure-seeking entrepreneurs are toying with the idea of opening a food truck.

But there’s so much to learn! Where do you start? By asking the experts of course!

The Mei Mei Truck

The Mei Mei Truck

Boston Food Truck Blog is interviewing the knowledgeable sages of Boston’s food truck scene to get advice from those who know the business best – our favorite Boston food trucks!

This week we’re chatting with Mei Mei Street Kitchen –  one of my very favorite food trucks around!

Sibling musketeers Andy, Irene, and Margaret Li (aka Mei) provide awesomely creative Chinese-American cuisine, with an emphasis on sustainability.

Mei Mei is currently up for Mobile Cuisine’s Food Truck Rookie of the Year Award, so be sure to cast a vote for them before Jan 18, when the contest ends.

1. Tell us a bit about Mei Mei Street Kitchen - what are you guys all about?

We’re all about having fun with great, locally and responsibly sourced ingredients. This means working with local farmers and producers, only using meat from animals that lived outside, and changing our menu to reflect the seasons.

Above all, we want to do it affordably – we think a great, locally sourced meal shouldn’t necessarily have to cost $50. We’re a family business and we want our guests to feel like they’re part of our extended family, so we try to share our personality on the truck and through social media outlets like twitter (@meimeifoodtruck) and our blog (meimeiboston.com).

2. What are some of the struggles you faced when starting your food truck?

Lots and lots of paperwork and permitting. To open a business like a food truck, a lot of things have to happen nearly simultaneously – designing the truck, getting the plans approved, getting the truck built, getting it inspected.

It’s an iterative process but sometimes it feels like everything happens at once! It can also be tough because the food truck program in Boston is still pretty new and a lot of rules and regulations can be confusing. Edith Murnane and Christina DiLisio work super hard to work out all the kinks and things are improving all the time.

3. What is your favorite street location and why?

cropped-meimeiheader1

Well, we love all our locations because they’re all pretty different. We have regulars at each and are happy to see them all once or twice a week.

Because I normally work the prep side of things, my only truck shift is at the Boston Public Library and it’s definitely a favorite. It’s a nice combination of tourists, students, and office folks, and the crowd is very adventurous. They’ve eaten whole roasted lamb’s heads, pig’s blood and chocolate pudding; there’s nothing those guys are afraid of!

I also love our Stuart St location because it’s fun to park with our friends Staff Meal and the Chubby Chickpea – we trade food, talk shop, and generally benefit from each other’s company.

4. What’s your most popular menu item?

Our most popular menu item is the Double Awesome – a scallion pancake sandwich stuffed with local greens pesto, VT cheddar, and two slow-cooked and then fried local, cage-free eggs.

Generally our greens in the pesto come from the Food Project, a non-profit farm organization in Dorchester. We serve the sandwich with spicy ketchup. It’s a messy situation, but people keep ordering it no matter how nice their outfits are!

5. Any final piece of advice you’d like to offer aspiring food truck vendors?

Have a financial plan. Get into the City of Boston lottery if you plan to vend in the city (takes place in January this year). Seek out unusual collaborations. Support local producers. Ask for help if you need it!

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Thanks for the great food truck advice! I can attest to the power of the Double Awesome – it earns its title for sure.

I think we can all appreciate how the Mei Mei team is eager to challenge Bostonian tastes. Folks may gasp at the thought of  trying pig’s blood pudding, but when Bean Town eaters are really put to the test, we rise to the occasion. Not to mention we get to sound super bad ass when we tell our friends about such eating adventures!

What a great interview! Cheers to Mei Mei Street Kitchen, offering affordable and sustainable food we can enjoy guilt-free.

Check out my previous review of Mei Mei Chinese-American food truck. Or if you want to read our past food truck start-up interviews and advice articles, try reading:

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