A Magical Truck Made of Tacos
By Warren Bujol
Food. It's what makes us poop. It's one of my favorite things and I would probably die without it. I'm a decent cook, I even enjoy the process, but sometimes I want someone to cook my food for me if you know what I mean. Restaurants are great when you aren't waiting to be seated in an at-capacity room full of hyperactive kids. There's always fast foo...nope, I forgot we don't have a Whataburger anymore. At least we have food trucks, or more specifically, a food truck...that is currently limited to operating at events. Don't worry though; the Sloppy Taco team is doing everything possible to ensure we don't starve to death in the 5th fattest United State. By everything, I mean waiting on a permit from the DHH (Dept. of Health and Hospitals) to prowl the streets of Lake Charles blaring the Rad soundtrack, in a truck made completely of tacos.
Food. From A Truck?
Why food trucks? Because they're great. The food truck is the next step in the evolution of our eating habits. They allow us to enjoy great food without the hassle of adventure-constricting buildings. They are usually piloted by a hyper-passionate staff, laden with puns, and are claustrophobic-friendly. Aside from that, they serve as a catalyst for culinary diversity. Food trucks are relatively low-cost/risk (compared to a traditional brick and mortar eatery); no building expenses, need for seating, or exhaustive menus, etc. Low costs are enticing to the risk-averse/not-billionaire entrepreneur/chef and their creativity. You can't find ribeye rolls at Casa Mañana, but I happen to know a big gray truck that makes a pretty damn good one.
So where did Sloppy Taco come from? It was just a tiny baby thought in Brett Stutes' big giant food brain a few years ago. When he was just a little fella, Brett worked behind the scenes at Mazen's, cooking for ‘the man'. He informed us that he learned a lot during his time there, but essentially it was the equivalent of being in a cover band (my words not his). Customers grow accustomed to signature dishes and deviation from the established menu is typically frowned upon, but Brett isn’t the dude who wants to play the same Journey songs every night; he's an 'originals only' kind of guy. Eventually leaving Mazen's, and possibly working a few odd jobs here and there, Brett ended up in the pipeline industry. Nothing wrong with a little sacrifice to take care of your family, but food truck dreams are like Jumanji; you have to see them through or they will try to kill you. It happened one night while playing pool at Pappy’s, Brett was reunited with his fevered food dream; it was late, they were hungry, and there were only three choices for food: Diarrhea Bell, WacArnold's, and KD's Diner*. The frustrating lack of late night dining options compelled Brett to jot “food truck” down on his To Do list.
Probably Needs A Flow Chart
One day, while driving over the I-10 Bridge, Brett noticed a small sign for the upcoming Live at the Lakefront event. The time to act was upon him. He assembled a team of taco-lovers: Himself (Brett), Derek (brother/part owner), Amanda (Himself's (Brett) wife), Laura (Derek's (Himself's (Brett (Amanda's husband)) brother/part owner) wife), Lauren (Himself (Brett (Amanda's husband)) and Derek's ((Himself (Brett (Amanda's husband)) brother/part owner/Laura's husband) sister), and Jesse (Lauren's (Himself (Brett (Amanda's husband)) and Derek's (Himself (Brett (Amanda's husband)) brother/part owner/Laura's husband) sister) husband), and, certainly with a montage, prepared for food war. They were more of a food tent then than a food truck, but they had drawn first blood in this war on traditional fast-casual dining. It was an adventure, much like the time Brett and Derek hitchhiked from or around Pensacola, Florida to Lake Charles (they almost made it); only with less neo-Nazi, guitar-stealing, felons and the risk of Deliverance love scenes.
They say everyone remembers where they were when we (some astronauts) landed on the moon. I wasn't alive yet, but I understand what they meant because I will remember my first Sloppy Taco forever, and I’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury. I had my first Sloppy Taco on March 13th, 2015 at 6:35 p.m. It was the first night of the Live at the Lakefront series hosted by our friendly neighborhood Arts and Humanities Council. The line was ridiculous, but as an avid, possibly rabid food truck fan, I was not deterred. I went with the Sloppy Taco, assuming it was their flagship menu item. It was good. Good enough for me to bring back to my people (Calvin) and make them awkwardly take bites as I yelled about how awesome it will be to have a food truck around. Although my first experience was pleasant, I had yet to realize how much that taco would mean to me. Just a few short weeks later, I tried the steak taco; at that point, I realized exactly how much that taco meant to me. It meant a lot.**
Live at the Lakefront was a monumental step towards a food truck-friendly Lake Charles. The Sloppy Taco effort had gained the attention of Nick Villaume, co-founder and Chief Freezer Operator of Pops and Rockets. Nick, like many of us, wants to eat his tacos from a truck and has served as an invaluable source of advice and guidance for our Sloppy friends. With the initial success on the lakefront and encouragement from our local popsicle pioneer, Brett realized that first night; his chances for success were much higher than previously expected. He decided to quit puss-footing around like a fat kid at the pool party and took his T-shirt off to do the biggest cannonball ever (he quit his pipeline job to make tacos full-time). Admittedly, Diem Carpe-ing isn’t easy - setbacks are afoot at the Sloppy Taco - but team Taco isn’t/never was scared of a little red tape. They've had to make a few adjustments to their plan (see. the Makeshift Guide to Food-Truckery), but assure us that a regular diet of Sloppy Tacos is just around the corner.
*KD’s is an excellent late-night food option and there are more than three options; I was just trying to make a point.
**I seriously can't stop eating the Steak Taco...If you or someone you know is suffering from a Steak Taco problem, please call our help desk at 337.602.6140, or visit the Taco team's Facebook page
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