How do you decide to start a food truck?
For co-founders and friends, Mark and Gus, starting a food truck was a perfect mix of their backgrounds and shared love for breakfast sandwiches.
With innovative flavours like the “Eggspo ‘86”, a vegetarian sandwich loaded with The Very Good Butchers plant-based sausage. As well as the “EggyMcEggFace”, a local favourite featuring Petes Meat, and One Arrow Bacon.
The two friends who struck out on their own at the height of the pandemic have carved out a niche for gourmet breakfast sandwiches in Vancouver, BC.
Two years later, they have grown their business from a single food truck to launching a series of successful pop-ups, ghost kitchen and are stoking the fires for a smoked bacon business. Here's how these breakfast food innovators got their start, and what their plans are for the future with Coho.
Coho: What's the origin story of Crack On?
Gus: We had some mutual friends in Vancouver, but Mark and I went to the same high school in Ireland, but 10 years apart. I had been working in kitchens throughout Vancouver and Mark was in Ad sales.
Mark: When the pandemic hit, like most people we were unsure of what to do next, but we knew we wanted to start something new.
Coho: When did you start Crack On? And why?
Mark: In 2020 we were brainstorming what this business could be. We knew we wanted to do something with food, like open a restaurant, but the only option was outdoor dining.
Gus: We saw there was a niche in the food truck market for breakfast food, really good breakfast food. The menu development was pretty organic, and still is, but we wanted to make a menu we liked to eat.
We wanted it to be gourmet, approachable and hand-held. Growing up in Ireland, we both had memories of breakfast sandwiches.
This idea of combining flavours from Vancouver with Ireland to make gourmet breakfast sandwiches eventually became the foundation of “Crack On”.
Coho: What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced growing your business?
Mark: It was our first time starting a food business, and there was so much we had to learn through trial and error.
Gus: For food trucks, finding parking is hard enough, but oftentimes it felt like we were working against the city to get approval on our permits and licenses.
Even to this day, every time we try to expand into a new city, we have to go through the same process of applying for permits and health approvals. For a small business, the cost of paying for every permit adds up.
For a few tips on how to get your food business started - click here.
Coho: Do you have any advice for future food truck owners?
Gus: Don’t cheap out on your truck, the maintenance cost alone isn’t worth it.
Mark: Find a mentor - someone with previous experience will help you save a bit of cash and hours of frustration.
Coho: Why did you choose to work in a commissary kitchen?
Gus: To run a food truck, by law you have to operate out of a commercial kitchen, but for us, it has to be more than just a place to store your food and prep your ingredients.
You get what you pay for, and after working with a few other commissary kitchens: a good commissary manager, a clean facility and a safe place to park our truck - are just as important as equipment or storage.
Mark: Community is a big part of our business, from working with an Irish graphic designer to growing our team from two to 13.
It’s been great working with other food businesses we’ve met along the way who all happened to be Coho members: Matt The Dumpling King, Sirius Cravings, Pastaggio, Takenaka.
Coho: What are your long-term business growth plans? Do you always foresee a commissary as a hub for your business?
Mark: We see joining a commissary as a chance to have more space to be able to reach our customers in different locations.
For the first time, it feels like things are starting to open up and we want to be ready. The busy season is right around the corner and we’re already getting into more farmers markets, festivals and events. We just opened our ghost kitchen at the E. Georgia Commissary, and host weekly pop-ups at House of Funk Brewing.
Opening a brick-and-mortar is still a long-term goal, but the dream has grown a lot from when we first started to now.
Gus: We’re also scaling our product line to create more accompaniments for our breakfast sandwiches. A big part of the business is “high quality” and for us, that means making more products in-house. We’ve just started working with One Arrow Meats, so we could start making smoked bacon in-house.
Coho: How do you define success?
Gus: It’s always a good feeling when you hear people like your food. It’s pretty crazy to me when people will come by and buy us a beer or tell us how our breakfast sandwich was the best thing they’ve ever eaten.
Mark: When we first started, we had a lot of people tell us this was a great idea, but to keep it as a hobby. It’s been great to not only prove them wrong but how much our business has grown. It used to be Gus and I doing everything, but in two years our team has 13 people and almost zero turnovers.
Coho: Would you recommend Coho to other food businesses? If so (we hope so!), why?
Gus: Definitely. It’s been less than a week, but it’s great working with other business owners who are so passionate about what they do and work with so many different cuisines.
Mark: We were going to recommend this place to all the other food trucks we knew, but they had already signed up to join the waitlist.