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Kogi and RoadStoves in talks about a consulting business

July 27, 2009 |  6:53 pm

Kogi

If you're Mark Manguera, the savvy entrepreneur behind the Kogi juggernaut, what do you do when fancy food trucks start pouring into the market? You could get really grumpy and try to crush the competition by calling them imitators and poseurs. Or you could capitalize on L.A.'s current food truck movement and champion your place as its king, which is what Manguera is doing.

Manguera is currently in talks with Morris Appel of RoadStoves about starting up a consulting business for mobile vendors. Appel, who has a stake in A La Carte (the company that leases the majority of L.A.'s food trucks), was instrumental in Kogi's success, so the two would make a powerful team. The idea is not fleshed out yet, but the hope is to take the food truck business to the next level.

Currently RoadStoves is a one-stop shop for clients with dreams of opening a rolling restaurant. Not only will it lease you the truck, it will custom-build it if need be. It will also handle permits and licenses, help you craft an image, teach you viral marketing tricks, help with logos, marketing and publicity, and basically be on call when you have questions or concerns about your new business.

"Since Kogi was able to start the truck mania that's going on, we decided to try to continue it rather than let it become a dying fad," says Appel, whose partner is lawyer Josh Hiller. Right now RoadStoves is more or less doing its consulting for free -- it comes with the truck. Concepts that Appel says he has helped develop include Green Truck, Barbie's Q, Dosa and the soon-to-launch Nom Nom truck. He says he has about seven new trucks ready to launch (including a pretty high-profile one in Hollywood that is still very much on the hush-hush).

"We're shooting for a homey, family feeling," says Appel. "Instead of trying to tear down the competition, Kogi is embracing people. Those are the types of people we want to take in, so they can follow the Kogi wave. We're really excited, because we think the opportunity is just huge."

There's nothing like hopping on a branding opportunity while it's hot. It'll be interesting to see what kind of benefits clients of RoadStoves reap as the food truck circus rolls on.

-- Jessica Gelt

Photo credit: Mitchell Haddad

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