Born and raised in Hawke’s Bay, Shani Ehlers began his first job in hospitality at 13 and never looked back. After spending two years working in Auckland, he met his life and business partner Snedden and, after that, moved out to start their own business in Hawke’s Bay. After launching their restaurant, they began to notice a trend of travellers enjoying events, concerts, and gigs where food trucks were a staple – and they were inspired.
“We decided that being sitting ducks and waiting for the business to come to us wasn’t our style and that instead we needed to figure out how to take our food and services to the people.”
With four food trucks operating in Hawke’s Bay, Ehler and Snedden offer simple food, cooked well and “served with a smile.” Their menu includes ribs, steaks, burgers, chicken wings, curly fries, and more. Preparing everything themselves, all food is pressed and curated daily with fresh meat.
One of the most significant challenges they’ve faced so far has been Covid, which changed their business outlook. Living by alert levels and changing to takeaways in their restaurant, Ehler and Snedden seized the opportunity to pivot their business and go into food trucking.
“We found long-term sites in Napier CBD and Mahora, Hastings, where a truck could park and serve as a takeaway. This was a big hit, and the demand didn’t seem to stop once the threat of covid19 no longer shut down the country.”
Challenges do not relent as the threat of inflation increases. Ehler understands these “hard knock” facts for hospitality businesses as they grapple with increasing food prices and maintaining margins. Tackling new challenges as they come, Ehler and Snedden have goals to find equilibrium in their world-life balance, especially concerning their three-month-old daughter.
For others wanting to go into food trucking, Ehler encourages those to create a solid business plan, identify possible obstacles, and ensure hospitality brings joy.
“A tight-knit team, social gratification, boisterous work environment and undeniable romance of running your own business can make it all worthwhile.”