Latest Verde Food News
Sep 24, 2014
Verde Food Truck opening brick-and-mortar restaurant in Boulder By Alicia Wallace Posted: 09/23/2014 08:10:04 PM MDT Updated: 09/23/2014 08:11:00 PM MDT Jack Daniel Walizer, left, hands a lunch order to Ball Aerospace employee Rob Osborne on Tuesday on Commerce Street in Boulder. (Jeremy Papasso / Daily Camera) When the engine turned for the first time on the Verde Food Truck in 2011, the end goal for the Boulder-based startup was simple: Be successful enough to eventually open a brick-and-mortar restaurant. The plan came to fruition. The operators of the Verde Food Truck on Friday will open Verde, a restaurant specializing in Sonoran-style Mexican fare, at 3070 28th St. just north of Valmont Road in Boulder. "It's awesome ... dream come true," said T.J. Ingraham, who started Verde with childhood friend Mike "Seth" Sethney. The restaurant's industrial, minimalistic decor includes several nods — from photographs to plants — to the duo's Arizona roots. Mobile vendors such as Verde have diversified their businesses amid a booming local food truck industry that also has presented challenges such as seasonality, restrictions through municipal regulations and a host of competitors. The operators of Comida opened restaurants in Longmont and Denver and are eyeing a future eatery in Boulder; Blackbelly Catering is opening a butcher shop and restaurant in east Boulder; and RollinGreens is aiming to bring its organic and local street food to the frozen aisles of natural grocery stores. For Verde, the food truck business is flourishing, but that aspect of the business faces limitations, Ingraham said. There's only so much food the vehicle's kitchen can hold; operating spaces have grown precious amid a jump in the number of competitors; and alcohol can't be sold off the truck, he said. Advertisement "It's nice to come in and have a margarita with the burrito," he said. The Verde restaurant will feature an expanded menu of what now is sold off the taco truck and include items such as Sonoran-style hot dogs, cheese crisps, burritos, chile rellenos and fajitas. The tacos and burritos will range in price from $7 to $10, and the entrees are expected to cost between $10 and $14. Ingraham and Sethney saw potential in the location, adding that they saw an opportunity to create a restaurant that would cater to the community and bring neighbors together. In addition to lengthy daily happy hours with drink and food specials, Verde has offered discounts to members of nearby businesses such as Movement and has plans to have nights dedicated to certain area neighborhoods. "We just love that feeling when someone comes to the bar and you know their name," Ingraham said. The brick-and-mortar Verde has been years in the making. Verde's founders entered the food truck fray because it was a unique and lower-cost avenue to get into the food-service industry. "It's night and day," he said of the financial investment. "Probably fivefold, at least. " Verde's operators shaved off a chunk of the restaurant's startup costs by tackling about 90 percent of the demolition themselves and employing the skills of a friend who is a contractor in Boulder, he said. The months-long project cost under $250,000. Ingraham and Sethney bought their food truck for $11,000 at a bankruptcy auction in Los Angeles and dropped another $20,000 for upgrades. Usually, a brick-and-mortar restaurant is the next step for a food truck operator, an avenue to have the food available for more people, said Lindsey Mandel, co-owner of Boulder-based RollinGreens. That certainly was RollinGreens' initial intention, she said. However, after some evaluation, RollinGreens changed course. "The trend for us right now is packaged products," she said. RollinGreens is preparing to launch a line of frozen appetizers and entrees and has verbal agreements with retailers such as Alfalfa's, Lucky's Market and Whole Foods, she said. "Especially in Boulder, food trucks can't survive off working seven to eight months a year," she said. "It's very temperamental, and the only logical thing is to grow somewhere where you could get your name out there all year round. " Complicating the lean months is a flood of new competition in Boulder, a city that has regulated where food trucks can operate, she said. "It's at a saturation point, especially during the last six months," she said. As of Sept. 9, there were 29 mobile food vehicles licensed to operate in the city of Boulder, according to information provided by Mishawn Cook, Boulder's tax and license manager. The number of food trucks has grown steadily since the first licenses were handed out in 2011. That year, there were seven licensed mobile food vendors. That increased to 13 in 2012 and then 18 last year, Cook said. Contact Camera Business Writer Alicia Wallace at 303-473-1332 or firstname.lastname@example.org .