Laura and Jon – share their story...
Over the last few years, the concept of street food has taken off like no one had ever imagined. Street food markets operate in cities and towns across the country, with many concepts becoming permanent spaces such as Kerb in London and Trinity Kitchen in Leeds.
You will often see people rejecting a sit-down meal in favour of a hand held street food alternative. With festivals multiplying by the year, street food traders are being offered more and more opportunities to branch out into exciting locations - both bricks and mortar restaurant set ups and mobile pitches.
Whilst burger vans and the like have been staples in town centres for years, the rapid increase in quirky trucks and trailers and exotic street cuisines, has caused an explosion in the industry with lots of change - for the good in our opinion!
Street food traders may have caused waves in the food industry but street food trader themselves are constantly developing and changing in the fluctuating street food world. There is a lot of change and adjustment as the industry grows and expands. Trends explode onto the scene and they fade as quickly as they appear.
If there’s one thing we have learnt as street food traders, it’s the importance of flexibility and the willingness to make changes in our business and to move with the flow. Let’s just say, our original business plan is very different to the business we run today!
Our street food business Chihuahua Burritos was born in 2014 from our love of Mexican food, passion for the street food culture and the want for the freedom that comes with owning your own business. Our first pop up (at a Literature festival!) was a disaster. We sold approximately four burritos and forgot chopping boards and foil (essential burrito-wrapping component!) Luckily we didn’t give up. Every collaboration and pop up got better from that point although wrestling with a marquee and tons of equipment in the pouring rain never got easier!
At the same time, we started a Mexican food delivery service from our tiny flat in Norwich. We had a fancy website built that allowed customers to order online. It was a bit like a budget Deliveroo service but was an instant success in the area and we were very busy most evenings. To this day, people still request we bring that delivery service back.
We then spent a few months doing various fulltime residencies at pubs and cafes in Norwich and using Deliveroo for our deliveries instead of running our own service.
After a couple of lovely (very educational) years selling Mexican food to the people of Norwich we decided to rebrand as Chihuahua’s: Modern Mexican Street Food and go mobile. So, in November 2016, we moved to Cambridge and bought our Peugeot - a red Fire Truck in rural France in its past life. We converted the truck into a catering vehicle ourselves which was a major learning experience and very tough at times, but a rewarding experience. The aesthetic of the van works perfectly for weddings, private events and markets alike.
We have also teamed up with with Eat17 in their Bishop’s Stortford store. Based on Borough Market, the design aims to make you feel like you are in a street food market with 4 different street food concessions for people to choose from with communal seating areas and stylish interiors.
Over the years, our business has ebbed and flowed into many different iterations and our flexibility and willingness to take risks on new ventures has only served to help expand our business. The logistics of running both a mobile and static operation at once has been a challenge but who knows what the future holds as we continue to grow. All I know is that we will continue to be open to any opportunities that come our way.
-Laura Phillips and Jonathan McGinn
Twitter - @ChihuahuasFood