November 26, 2022

Meet the food trucks who helped change the laws to put food trucks on the street
Food trucks did not always readily roll in New Orleans. Meet the owners of two trucks who helped change the laws and help food trucks prosper.
by Kate Taylor
October 3, 2022
New Orleans represents many things to many people. For some, she’s the perfect vacation spot, a place where you can dance and drink your cares away and not worry about packing on a few pounds. For others, she’s a harsh mistress, a city that takes with both hands and gives little back. Still to many of us who call her home, she’s a tempestous lover, ready to torture you to be sure you’re worthy of her. When she’s finally satisfied you’ve passed the test, she never leaves you.
Often people’s perception of the city comes down to how resilient (or just how plain stubborn) they are. After all, it takes a lot of nerve to take New Orleans on. But plenty of people have done just that, and some of them even won, becoming a part of the transient tapestry making up the city. 
Rose Nicaud was one. The enslaved woman served coffee from a portable cart she wove in and out of the French Market to become New Orleans’ first coffee vendor. Another mobile food vendor was Pearl the Pie Lady. She could be seen and heard wheeling her pie cart throughout the French Quarter while singing, “Pie Laaaady.” While she unfortunately didn’t continue selling pies after Hurricane Katrina, many still remember her and long for her return.
Today’s mobile vendors are food trucks. These modern-day carts have the same entrepreneurial spirit Rose Nicaud and the Pie Lady had. Because what could be more NOLA than combining the Southern need to feed everyone while having the ingenuity to get paid for it? 
I was lucky enough to speak with owners Rachel Angulo of La Cocinita food truck and Stephen Maher of Bonafried this past week to see how their individual journeys began, are progressing through the pandemic, and how the rest of us can find them.
KT:  What made you want to start a food truck?
Rachel:  “Benoit Angulo [and I] met while working together at Commander’s Palace, a fine-dining restaurant in New Orleans. While enjoying drinks at a neighborhood bar late one night after a long shift, [we] became hungry, not having eaten since the 5 p.m. pre-shift meal. Disappointed with the absence of nearby late-night food options, Benoit pitched the idea of starting a food truck together. 
Benoit envisioned drawing from the feel and flavors of late-night street food carts lining a strip in Caracas referred to as “Calle del Hambre” (“Hunger Street”). Benoit introduced [me] to his arepas, and soon thereafter, I fell in love with both Benoit and his cooking. The New Orleans truck opened for business on Nov. 19, 2011, at the same bar where it all started…and the rest is history!”
Stephen:  “We wanted to work for ourselves. I didn’t want to wait and learn a new trade, and the only things I had ever really done was food service and HVAC repairs and maintenance. Naturally, I figured I could turn a 30-year-old bread truck into a kitchen. Also that was also all we could afford to do.”
KT:  What was the process like?
Rachel:  “When we first opened our food truck in 2011, we learned that the laws governing mobile food vendors (dating back to the Roman candy cart!) had not been updated since 1956. We worked with the city council and the mayor’s office to change the legislation. A year and a half from the time I wrote up my initial proposal, we were able to accomplish the following changes:
This helped our operations drastically. Prior to then, there were a lot of unnecessary obstacles and challenges involved in starting and operating a food truck in New Orleans.”
Stephen:  “The process started fun and exciting with brainstorming, test kitchen parties, and pop ups. Then it got scary with cashing in my 401k, driving a shaky Wonder-bread van 55 mph from Houston to New Orleans, and secretly working on my project after hours in the mechanical shops of my former employer. Not to mention the permitting process and the vast differences between how parish governments would treat us. It was rough seas before it became something functioning.” 
KT:  How has COVID-19 affected your business?
Stephen:  “COVID brought everything to its knees. Our entire business was serving packed offices, hospitals, and large gatherings. We went into the first lock down hopeful our budgeting and savings from Mardi Gras vending would carry us, but then it just never ended. We survived through a combination of PPP, EIDL, and RRF programs. We waited till we could get vaccinated and then we did online pre-order shifts, private catering, anything to stay afloat. But the reality is two thirds of our revenue comes from large Festivals like Voodoo or The National Fried Chicken Fest. These spikes and waves of COVID are essentially holding my entire industry hostage.” 
Rachel: “People were working from home during the first year or so of the pandemic, and so the typical lunch spots in commercial districts no longer made sense for us. Therefore we opted to only operate the food truck for catering events. But for a long time, people were not hosting events during the pandemic, and so the food truck was not very active at all and brought in very little revenue during the year or so following the beginning of the pandemic. In the past several months, people have been excited to host events and celebrate milestones with their loved ones again, so our catering services are making a comeback.” 
KT:  How can customers find/follow your truck?
Stephen:  “We are on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook all @BonafriedTruck. But the most direct way to reach us is [email protected]
Rachel:  “Follow us on social media: @lacocinita on Instagram and La Cocinita Food Truck on Facebook. With occasional exceptions, we are primarily focusing on catering at the moment. But we are open six days a week at the Pythian Market, 234 Loyola Ave, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon-Sat (until 9 p.m. Thurs-Sat).”
KT:  Is there anything else you’d like people to know?
Rachel:  “We offer both food truck catering and catering deliveries (think taco bars, etc)!  Our catering menus are on our website, www.lacocinita.com.”
Stephen: “We are currently deep in some mechanical repairs to the truck side of the Food Truck, and we aren’t sure what the fall festival scene will have in store, but the baby blue Chicken Van will be back in action ASAP. And as always, thanks for eating at Bonafried!”
This was written with the deepest gratitude to Rachel Billow and Stephen Maher for being so generous with their time.
Watch Eat Play Stay to see more of the best spots that are an easy drive from New Orleans.

Get the Very Local channel on Roku, Amazon Fire and Apple TV to watch all of our shows for FREE.
For Katherine Taylor becoming a writer was prophesied by her maternal grandmother who said she had too grand a name to be anything else. Kate has been published by StarTrek.com, Bright Wall Dark Room, and Bold Culture. She is currently working on a series of short stories and essays.
A guide to some of the best Black-owned brunch spots in NOLA
Gather the crew together, make those reservations, and celebrate all things Black at brunch. 
How Buttery Spell’s homemade compound butters went from pandemic project to supermarket shelf
Amanda Ratcliff began making pecan butter because it wasn’t available at the store and she wanted to relieve her pandemic boredom.
 If These Walls Could Talk: New Orleans Restaurants in Repurposed Buildings
From the French Quarter to Lakeview, read more about the stories hidden within the walls of some of the cities best restaurants.
Stream Local News, Originals and More on Your Favorite Devices. Live, On Demand. All Day. All Night. All Free.
Roku
Fire TV
Apple TV
iOS
Android
LG
Very Local for Samsung TV
Very Local is the only streaming channel that brings you closer than ever to your hometown and beyond. Very Local offers a vast library of on demand local content at your fingertips for FREE. Stream news from the team you trust, original series, local weather and more at home or on the go. All day, all night – all free.
Yes, Very Local is FREE! No strings attached. No credit card is required. No trial period. Very Local is your number one source for FREE news streaming and local weather. 
Very Fun. Very Free.
Rediscover your city like never before! Very Local has an extensive library of local content catered to your community. Find new places and hidden gems right in your backyard. Explore beyond your city with our vast library of original series and specials that are added every week. Or, watch news and local weather from the team you trust on demand.
Stream local news, weather and exclusive local original series from all 27 Hearst Television markets. Not seeing your marketing listed? No Problem! Access our national feed to see our full library of original series and specials. 
Stream Very Local live, on demand, at home, or on the go on a multitude of devices including smartphones, tablets, and a wide range of smart entertainment platforms. If a device is supported, you’ll find Very Local in the app store.
TV – 
Samsung TV (2019+ models), Android TV, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Roku.
Mobile and Tablet – 
iPhone and iPad
Albuquerque, NM
Baltimore, MD
Birmingham, AL
Boston, MA
Burlington, VT
Cincinnati, OH
Des Moines, IA
Fayetteville, AR
Fort Smith, AR
Greenville, SC
Jackson, MS
Kansas City, MO
Lancaster, PA
Louisville, KY
Manchester, NH
Milwaukee, WI
Monterey, CA
New Orleans, LA
Oklahoma City, OK
Omaha, NE
Orlando, FL
Pittsburgh, PA
Plattsburgh, NY
Portland, ME
Tampa, FL
Sacramento, CA
Savannah, GA
West Palm Beach, FL
Winston-Salem, NC
Albuquerque, NM
Baltimore, MD
Birmingham, AL
Boston, MA
Burlington, VT
Cincinnati, OH
Des Moines, IA
Fayetteville, AR
Fort Smith, AR
Greenville, SC
Jackson, MS
Kansas City, MO
Lancaster, PA
Louisville, KY
Manchester, NH
Milwaukee, WI
Monterey, CA
New Orleans, LA
Oklahoma City, OK
Omaha, NE
Orlando, FL
Pittsburgh, PA
Plattsburgh, NY
Portland, ME
Tampa, FL
Sacramento, CA
Savannah, GA
West Palm Beach, FL
Winston-Salem, NC
©2022 Hearst Television Inc.
Privacy Notice/Notice at Collection  |  Interest-Based Ads  |  Your California Privacy Rights |  Terms of Use
California Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Very Local participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites.
©2022 Hearst Television Inc.
Privacy Notice/Notice at Collection  |  Interest-Based Ads
Your California Privacy Rights | Terms of Use
California Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Very Local participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites.

source

Leave a Reply