Monday, July 4, 2011

Prisoners of Hope (P.O.H.) and their Food Trucks

All I ever wanted to do was make a couple bucks.

All I ever wanted was to become really good at just one thing.

I didn't necessarily need an award or public accolades.

Klecko just pretty much wanted to string together a career that contained enough substance so when he died people wouldn't say the same thing that he heard at his Fathers funeral......

"He was such a bright man, but........"

Yeah, there always seems to be a but, but like I said, that's what I was pretty much trying to avoid.

In my minds eye, I have always had a vision of my career being a journey that came equipped with a starting gate, which for me would have been being 18, void of confidence and w/o network or resources, and a finish line.

Even at 18 I pictured this journey as if I were on the Appian Way trying to cross a finish line which would have been the Roman Coliseum. Perhaps when I passed through the turn styles rose pedals would float down from the sky as if I were Nero preparing to take a seat at the Circus.

Being on the podium is never within itself the objective of most goal oriented people. I think having a platform to discuss the journey is what most people want whether they know it or not.

Each and everyone of us is going to have a label plastered on our foreheads when we die, and it's going to say....LEGACY.

Do you ever wonder what people will say or how they will view you when you are gone?

I do.


Throughout my travels I can't tell you how many interesting people I have met. Some inspired me. Some I fell in love with, and others I simply wanted to pimp slap and then pee in their garage when they weren't home.

The most entertaining lot would probably be what we call in the "Show" the P.O.H.

This is short for Prisoner(s) Of Hope.

I talk to them at least once a week.

Sometimes it starts off innocently with a phone call where some well meaning school teacher with a killer muffin recipe wants to outsource my bakery during off hours so they can produce a line of products.

When you ask them their proposed numbers, they are always grossly overestimated and unrealistic.

"Yeah, I'm gonna be knocking out 36 000 Cream Puffs for the State Fair."

Then I might ask how they are going to keep their cream center from breaking down under the heat and humidity. Will you have a refrigerated came? What percentage of stales can you have before your concept goes into the red?

There is usually an awkward silence after that.

So if I end up tossing them a number (and typically I don't) they recoil in fear.

"That much? I think that's more than a little stiff, don't you?"

What these people often forget is that there is so many tangibles tied to a company that require you removing shekels from your pouch and handing them over to another industrious soul.

It might be the fines OSHA is going to hit you up for, or maybe the windshield that has to be replaced in your delivery truck. How many rolls of paper towels and toilet paper does your shop go through? All of this needs to be entered into your bottom lime.

Ask anybody who has ever started up a concept. If your report says you'll have everything up and in place for $500 000, let me guarantee you, you're going to need $700 000.

In the Hospitality Industry you run into all kinds of bandits. Just ask Gilson about when she opened the My-T-Fine Cafe with some friends, the day before the shop was to open, the inspector came in and "suddenly" noticed that the venting system wasn't up to code.

For a mere $50 000 investment, they would become compliant and the inspector would sign off.

It amuses me that "some" inspectors don't notice things like this until the day before you open shop.

It makes me chuckle that "some" inspectors won't point out such a large financial commitment on your part until after you've drained your life savings and having all that you own wrapped up in this place.

Now on the day before the opening you get told that you better shake down a relative, or even steal the Widow's mite if you want to float.

It's next to impossible to make numbers add up in the Food Show.

It is impossible, absolutely, unequivocally impossible to make money in this biz if you start off behind the 8 ball.

With that said, I'll be minding my own business, strolling down the Kings highway, and some enthusiastic entrepreneur will toss a snare over me.

As I try to break free, most of them give me the same pitch verbatim.....

"Yeah-Yeah-Yeah, I know it's a tough racket, but I gotta tell you Klecko, I got an idea that's gonna make us a million dollars!"

Seriously, according to them, we won't make a lot, or a huge profit, but the word "Million" gets tossed around with the same frequency that I use for requesting another Diet Coke on a hot July afternoon!

OK, off the top of my head, here are just some of the concepts where I was assured that I would be able to retire early if I quarterbacked said idea......

Hawaii Pucca Dogs -

Some cat who I really dig, a level headed guy swore to God that he saw these pronto pup deals over in Maui that were the answer to our prayer.

You had to take the phallic looking bun, place it over a plastic cone, and it would toast the inside of this bun, the interior chamber would have a crust on it, and then you insert your tropical condiments inside, then the dog and Wah-La......

It's time to invest in a titanium vault lol!

Then there was that guy who wanted me to bake Eucharist for the soldiers off at war.

Stupid-Stupid Klecko falls into the guys trap and asks what the soldiers would do about the wine......

"I'm glad that you asked kid. Well just bake the wine into the wafer. A 2 for 1, and they'll be hermetically sealed. you can put one in your wallet or purse. God can be with you at all times!"

I swear to Polish Jesus, I looked the guy in the eyes and said.......

"Dude, the worst thing that could happen is that this concept would work. If so, and you profited off of that.....God would torch you brah."

The old huckster stood back and examined me a little bit......

"Well, if we....."

Before the rebuttal was finished, I told him if he didn't get out, I was prepared to crucify him myself.

Then....LOL, then there was the dude who had a dentist for a friend.

The dentist used that plaster of Paris which was designed to create dental imprints, and he designed dinosaur heads out of them.

Their idea was to have a hamburger bun that looked like a reptile head. Each bun would possess a hinge cut that would look, and move like a jaw.

The idea was actually cute, but when I explained to him that he didn't need to talk to a baker, but a pan specialist, and when I hopped online and showed him the prices of pans this grown man became sad.

Hey, you know Klecko, he's not a mean guy, but when the guy won't take no for an answer.....well let's just say the Pollack had to get a little snaky.

So with all that said......what's the newest pot of gold that every leprechaun in the Twin Cities (and the nation for that matter)is chasing after?

Food Trucks.

That's right, 5 years ago or so restaurant's on the east coast where sending out concept satellites on wheels.

The thought was that this would increase their empires perimeter. These trucks not only pull in additional revenue, but they serve as wonderful marketing tools. Basically you have a billboard for your company that makes money instead of tossing money into advertising campaigns that have no money making handles.

The only trouble with this wonderful business plan is now every 3rd person on planet Earth is talking about doing this.

I'm talking to 2-3-5 people each week who are certain that they are set up to make a killing doing this. Many of these people have zero food (or mechanical) experience.

In fact recently I just talked to a very nice young couple that both stepped out of their careers to "pursue this dream."

Don't get me wrong kids, I am NOT making fun of these people, and I am NOT hoping them to fail.

All I'm saying is I have been walking my route headed towards Rome for years,and I still haven't stepped up to the podium after 3 decades, but I have gained some common sense.

For instance, most cities have not had to deal with these truck concepts yet. What happens if they do become "the rage"?

Well then there will be zoning, and certainly heavier regulation, food trucks won't necessarily have control over their destiny.

That responsibility will be in the hands of local government, and who's kidding who?

How do you think that will work?

The big boy's will lobby and get the limited parking spots in the areas with the highest traffic levels.

Consumers attention will become deluded, just look at the blue print that's been set up with our nations Farmers Markets.

10 years ago, a brother could make a solid buck. It sure isn't easy work, but if you put your nose to the grindstone and plop your a** on a stool for 12 hours, there was a few penny's to be made.

Now days however, there is a Farmers Market on every corner of every neighborhood in metropolitan areas across America.

The payday has become deluded!

OK....I don't want to send you kids away on a downer, I'm just saying.....don't step away from a pension to pursue what can be perceived as romantic.

But if you do, give me a shout and I'll do my best to help you out!


  1. my takeaway from this? i really want a cream puff.

  2. L.H. - perhaps the greatest gift that I can give you!

  3. I wrote enough hopeful business plans to know there was no way in hell or heaven :)

    I also know you won't get to that podium and say anything meaningful working for someone else at the bottom end of this business.

    For you especially, and me if I am really lucky, the path through the circus and to the promised land lies in writing and maybe teaching this game to others.

  4. may be right!