At 5 am on the morning after our very first service, I walked myself to the emergency room. I had woken up in the middle of the night to what felt like my thumb being lit on fire. The burning eventually stopped, but the only problem was, I couldn’t feel my thumb anymore. I thought back to the night before, when I had cut it on the lid to our sandwich station as we were preparing to open (again, for the very first time). So, I did what any new business owner would do in that situation: I cleaned it, wrapped the hell out of it, and the show went on. At the time I admittedly felt pretty good about the situation, but that morning after some quick WebMD I figured I had clipped a nerve and I was about to lose my thumb. Great start to the business, I thought.
Of course, my thumb was fine, it had simply swollen from the cut and that’s why I couldn’t feel it. We went on to do two more events that weekend, one which included meeting Food Network’s Jeff Mauro (and a sprint through River Forest to grab more propane, which is a story for a different day). We were officially underway.
Since then, we’ve served at events all over the state, met some really cool people, made some really great friends, and all the while managed to only have one more trip to the ER (again, for a different day). We even made the 1000+ mile trek to Austin, Texas this past March for SXSW, an experience we will never forget. While we have had a few bumps in the road, we could not be happier with how our first year went, and are incredibly excited for what the future holds for The Happy Lobster. With that said, we know we could never have survived our first year in business without a little help from our friends. Here’s to the people that helped us along the way.
Thank you to Dan Salls, founder of The Garage (RIP) and the Salsa Truck, who helped guide us through the initial stages of owning and operating a food truck in Chicago. Dan gave us a shot doing pop ups at The Garage, gave us space in his commissary even though there wasn’t much to be had, and introduced us to a great community of truck owners that would also help guide the way for us. We would have never hit the ground running the way we did if Dan had not taken a shot on us. We can’t wait for your next project.
Thank you to Jeff Wang of the Yum Dum Truck, as well as Shawn Podgurski and Phil Naumann of the DönerMen Truck, who were our first real friends in the industry. We’ve always had people to bounce ideas off of, events recommended to us, and advice when we hit a snag. Their food ain’t half bad, either (and by not half bad, we mean some of the best in the city).
Thank you to the incredible team at Schantz Manufacturing, who took our vision for the Happy Lobster and made it into a real food truck. If anyone is thinking about building one, the people at Schantz should be the first phone call you make.
Thank you to our family and friends for more than we can put into words. You have come to our events, helped when we’ve needed an extra hand, and supported us every step of the way. Having your own business means nothing without people to share it with, and we are so glad we get to share it with all of you.
A special thank you to my fiancé, Jess, who came with me from New York to start this crazy adventure. The life of a food truck owner can be hectic (to put it lightly), but you have always been there with a helping hand, a supportive ear, and a resting shoulder. I would have never survived the first year without you.
Finally, thank you to all of our loyal customers. When we started this business, I think we completely underestimated how much of an effect you would have on us. Getting to interact with you on a daily basis has truly been a pleasure. Thank you for being awesome, and of course, for loving our food.
Here’s to year two.