It may seem like a light subject, but food trucks are something Denver takes very seriously. Denver mayoral candidate Chris Romer, even vowed if elected in 2011, to help the city’s beloved Denver Cupcake Truck get back on the road after owners Denon and Sean Moore were threatened with fines by Denver’s Planning and Zoning Department.
Romer may not have won that election, but thanks to the Front Range’s hunger for food trucks, the Denver Cupcake Truck is going strong, and serving up delectable treats such as the chocolate-chocolate chip cake and even the now-lamented unofficial-official Tebow cupcake.
I was fortunate to be able to sit down with Denon to learn a little more about her mobile food truck as well as the Cake Crumbs Bakery she owns with her husband in Park Hill, the place where all the cupcake magic begins. As the Denver food truck scene has burgeoned over the years with a variety of vendors, I also interviewed Rayme Rosello, owner of Comida, a vibrant pink food truck serving up a mobile Mexican feast to Boulder- and Denverites alike.
Denver’s First Mobile Cupcake Truck
Denon and her husband Sean opened Cake Crumbs Bakery in the Park Hill neighborhood in 2007, and in April 2010, launched the Denver Cupcake Truck. “We were Denver’s first mobile cupcake shop and the first social media driven food truck,” she adds. “I wanted to keep our customers excited about our products, I also wanted to make our cupcakes more accessible to the greater Denver area.”
The truck, a smartly retrofitted 1969 Ford Vanette, serves primarily as a means of transporting the treats around the city. All of the actual baking is done at Cake Crumbs Bakery. But the truck is fitted with wireless Internet capacity, so that customers can have up-to-the-minute details on where the cupcakes are heading next.
“Having the cupcake truck has added a great new element of advertising to our brick and mortar,” says Denon. “It’s been the most successful and cost effective form of advertising we’ve ever utilized in our company history. There’s nothing better than a mobile billboard with a smiling human face.”
We Don’t Make Burritos
If you’re looking for the typical overstuffed burrito ever-prevalent at Mexican fast food chains like Chipotle, you won’t find it when you visit the Comida truck, whose vibrant pink color is inspired by the bougainvillea of Mexico.
“We don’t make burritos,” explains Rayme Rossello, owner of Comida. “Everything that we make takes a long time, and we use really great quality ingredients.” With menu items to choose from that include a classic Sirloin Situation taco, a carnitas taco that is cooked for three and a half hours in Stella Artois, and a marinated fish taco that is accompanied by orange jalapeño slaw and topped with spicy aioli sauce, the wait is certainly worth it.
Although originally from New York City, Rayme has been on the Denver restaurant scene for a while. She started Proto’s pizza with Pam Proto in 1999, but later realized she was interested in opening a Mexican restaurant of her own. Instead of spending the money on a permanent space, Rayme thought she would try the idea out with a mobile food truck.
Rayme’s mobile food business, which she started in 2010, consists of a DHL truck (think boxy mail truck) with an exuberant exterior that is wrapped in vinyl. The interior includes most things that you would see in a small commercial kitchen, including cooking ranges, refrigerators, sinks, and a commissary space. “Everything gets cooked on the truck,” says Rayme. All in all, the truck and its outfitting cost Rayme $62,000.
So far, the truck has been a success, and has even inspired Rayme to build the Comida Cantina, a brick and mortar restaurant that will open in Longmont this February. “If you can build a business with a food truck, you can definitely build a restaurant,” she says.
*You can see a slideshow of the Comida food truck here.