The Lime Truck’s Daniel Shemtob on Survival, Success, and Making an Influence


We sat down for a Q&A with Daniel Shemtob, who began one of many coolest vans we all know, The Lime Truck earlier than it was “cool.” He shared his secrets and techniques with us–not solely about being an excellent meals truck and small enterprise proprietor, but in addition about making an affect on our communities. Together with many awards, The Lime Truck just lately received The Nice Meals Truck Race: All Stars on Meals Community!

Take a look at the interview under (Solutions have been edited for size and readability).

Roaming Starvation: Hey Daniel! It’s been a minute since we caught up! What have you ever been as much as as of late? What are you at the moment cooking up? 

Daniel Shemtob: Nicely any small enterprise proprietor throughout the pandemic undoubtedly had to decide on their battles, and we weren’t with out that by any means. We needed to shut a couple of of our companies, together with our fast-casual brick-and-mortar restaurant, and give attention to what we might do and what was working. We doubled down on The Lime Truck and my new shoe firm Snibbs, which I’ll inform you about in a second (together with the $50 low cost I’m providing to meals vans).

However over the course of the pandemic, we have been capable of assist so many individuals and now it looks like we’re hitting our stride–I’m pleased with that resilience, you recognize?

RH: Undoubtedly. So how did you begin The Lime Truck?

Daniel: In June 2010, the week earlier than my twenty first birthday, I opened up my meals truck, The Lime Truck, for enterprise. Thoughts you, I had completely no thought run a meals truck. I keep in mind our first day close to a park in Irvine, CA. We bought an order for a panini, which we used to serve. Then we realized we had no clue activate the grill!

We needed to name the man who bought us the truck to ask him how, which clearly was with propane, which we didn’t have. Once we went to get some, we misplaced our keys and needed to hotwire the truck. That day was an absolute mess, however I believe our enthusiasm carried us by means of. Our first buyer ended up being an everyday!

As of late, my favourite half about having a meals truck is that the service is unmatched. I like that you just’re interacting with the client even within the kitchen, which you don’t actually have in eating places. The opposite factor I like is that the client base is badass! They’re enjoyable and tremendous adventurous.

RH: We all know the how now, however what in regards to the why–why did you begin The Lime Truck and was there anybody particularly who actually inspired you? 

Daniel: Entrepreneurship is in my blood. The Persian Jewish tradition I grew up in may be very enterprise oriented. And my mother all the time inspired me to observe my curiosity–she was my greatest supporter. In actual fact, my Myers Briggs persona sort is the entrepreneur!

I used to be a type of youngsters that all the time had some facet hustle way back to I can keep in mind. So The Lime Truck was began after my first enterprise failed.

Most likely the funniest story I’ve about encouragement is that one time a buddy and I went to go see the Kogi truck when it got here to Orange County. That truck really is known. On the time, I had been fantasizing about beginning my meals truck, so I went for it and requested the final word meals truck aficionado, Roy Choi, for his recommendation. He was tremendous enthusiastic and inspiring, saying, “Dude, you gotta do it! Don’t wait! It’s one of the best job ever. It’s critically so enjoyable.”

It was clear that this was a group and trade constructed upon serving to each other. That was a motion I needed to be part of as a result of I like making an affect and utilizing my success to assist others.

RH: Clearly, an enormous a part of a meals truck or any meals enterprise is the meals itself! The place did you be taught to prepare dinner? 

Daniel: You may cringe at this, however I discovered every thing on the truck itself. Within the early days, we determined we needed to cater to a lunch crowd with paninis and salads, however we additionally did late nights the place we went wild creating new menu objects with nice elements. Over time, we found out that the late-night menu was what clients beloved.

After we bought the menu down, we realized we wanted to ship on consistency. We’ve since nailed that down, after all. Nevertheless it undoubtedly created hype and made clients loyal. Gotta preserve it contemporary.

RH: That brings us to the identify–The Lime Truck! How do you identify a meals truck? 

Daniel: Menus are menus, so take into consideration the temper and ambiance you’re making an attempt to move your clients to. Generally what you’re working with is only a car parking zone, so design and branding matter.

The identify got here to us as a result of we needed one thing vivid, enjoyable, clear, and zesty. It was initially of the connoisseur meals truck motion in Southern California once we began the enterprise, and again then the time period “meals truck” had a nasty connotation. We needed to give attention to the “connoisseur” half and create one thing that appeared contemporary and clear. The identify has aged very well, which I’m pleased with. Additionally vivid lime inexperienced is so recognizable! Individuals keep in mind us.

RH: How did you promote the truck? What recommendation do you may have for advertising and marketing a meals truck enterprise? 

Daniel: It began with parking someplace near quite a lot of foot visitors. For us, that was UC Irvine. My recommendation is to get gutsy and inventive. You don’t begin a meals truck simply to observe the principles. I keep in mind I used to actually cross out samples of our meals in a Dealer Joe’s. I bought kicked out so many instances. Attempt to discover a built-in viewers, like a giant workplace advanced with no cafeteria. Social media can also be your greatest buddy. Once we began, the panorama was slightly completely different, with primarily Twitter and Fb. Now, it is best to make TikToks!

RH: Any extra recommendation you’ll be able to impart for somebody seeking to begin a meals truck at the moment?

Daniel: Ooh, my recommendation is sort of easy. However don’t confuse easy with straightforward. My technical recommendation is that you just’ve gotta determine get catering shoppers. In the event you don’t have that, you’re going to should redo your marketing strategy. In actual fact, The Lime Truck is now virtually solely targeted on catering.

As for my thought-provoking recommendation, dial in your model and menu to be cohesive and distinctive to {the marketplace}. It doesn’t essentially should be one thing new, however you must do it so effectively you begin constructing a cult following.

And don’t neglect about your organization tradition. It could be simply you and a few relations at first, however in the event you can’t cross in your enthusiasm and mindset to workers, you’ll wrestle as you develop. Attempt to create a enterprise that thrives even if you’re not there.

RH: How do you join with the communities that you just’re serving together with your companies? 

Daniel: For us, it appears to be like like quite a lot of fundraising. I misplaced my mother and grandmother to breast most cancers, in order that’s a extremely huge precedence for me. We donate to the American Breast Most cancers Basis, but in addition to Not Simply October, the Coral Reef Alliance, ASPCA, and extra.

We’re additionally launching a sequence of micro-grants of as much as $500 for folks within the meals trade. For somebody residing paycheck to paycheck, an expense of some hundred {dollars} can actually derail them for greater than a 12 months. It’s actually vital to me as somebody who has “made it” within the meals trade to present again. If our job is feeding our communities, we must also be feeding each other.

RH: Okay, so we’re actually dying to listen to about Snibbs! 

Daniel: I’m so glad! So the concept got here to me as a result of I used to be on my ft day by day at my eating places and on the meals truck. My again ache was so dangerous on sure days I couldn’t even present as much as work.

As for after-work engagements, I felt actually foolish displaying up locations in my ugly, beaten-down work sneakers. As I started to perform a little research I spotted there was an enormous margin for enchancment! So I designed a shoe particularly for the meals trade. They’re purposeful, straightforward on the again, and look nice. I discovered an unimaginable orthopedic surgeon to assist me design them and Snibbs was born!

That is the place the plot thickens. We began the corporate and bought our provide proper earlier than the entire world shut down in 2020. With every thing closed we began taking The Lime Truck to locations the place we have been wanted, primarily hospitals and care facilities. We quickly realized that the hospitality and healthcare industries have comparable wants. We gave away meals and Snibbs to our frontline employees. It ended up being a type of grassroots advertising and marketing–we bought out of 6,000 pairs in 60 days.

At its core, Snibbs is a shoe model made for the meals trade by somebody who grew up within the meals trade. And people roots are particularly the meals truck trade. For me, it’s much less in regards to the earnings and extra about making a optimistic affect on the group I like.

So anybody who owns a meals truck, or works on a meals truck, can go to Snibbs proper now and get a $50 low cost. Additionally–I’ve gotta add that I like to recommend the Spacecloud mannequin.

Creator: This interview was performed and edited by Greta Gooding.


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