Sarah and Otis Frizzell fell in love with the food truck concept in 2011 on their honeymoon in Los Angeles. Although Sarah was about to start a new job as an art director and copywriter, she couldn’t help but feel disconnected from the industry that she had previously worked so hard to be in. The pair took a leap of faith and opened The Lucky Taco shortly after a food-inspired tasting-trip around Mexico. “A dear friend of ours once said you have to be equal parts brave and stupid to start your own business,” joked Frizzell. “Although he missed out tenacious, talented and awesome, I would have to say he was right.”
The Frizzell’s food truck is called Lucky, and they specialise in tacos. In addition to a range of taco flavours, they recreate and sell their own version of Mexican horchata, a cinnamon-infused rice milk. They also make and sell their own range of hot sauce, chilli salts, pickles, and taco meal kits. Having been in operation for seven years now, The Lucky Taco has undoubtedly grown and developed. “We used to do markets, events and lots of public trading,” said Frizzell. “You name it; we were there. But these days it’s mostly private catering.”
For the most part, Sarah and Otis maintain and run the grill. “But we have some solid shareholders that we can rely on, and a great team of casual helpers that come and lift the load when we need,” explained Frizzell. Additionally, Frizzell mentioned her luck when it came to the help that they have had from suppliers, including, Loft Foods, Service Foods, Wilson Hellaby, Produce Co., and Dunninghams.
The Lucky Taco is perhaps one of the best locally-sourced examples of the fruits of hard work. Not only are the Frizzell’s able to choose where they take their truck and when, but their meal kits and other retail products have garnered a vast following through speciality supermarkets and stores. “Not so long ago, we were struggling. As long as our ROS keeps increasing each month, we don’t intend on rocking the boat too much. We’re happy and profitable, a far stretch from what we were this time two years ago.” Although it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, Frizzell said that the food truck lifestyle has suited them ideally, and given them extra time to do more things they love. Frizzell noted that one of the best things that it has allowed them is flexibility to be spontaneous and travel. “For us, we’re not open ‘all the time’, so when we do open, it becomes more of an event, and people don’t mind queueing for some tasty Lucky Tacos.” Furthermore, the food truck community, that Frizzell affectionately labelled as ‘#truckbuddies’, connect and support each other throughout the food scene. “We are both proud and humbled to be a part of this community.”
The Lucky Taco is a good-looking food truck, and it didn’t come cheap. Fitted out by Bruce Greenidge and his wife Janice, who work at Custom Coach Builders, Lucky has been in operation for seven years and still looks fresh. While Sarah and Otis forked out between $60,000 and $80,000 on their truck, Frizzell said that you could do a home job for as little as $10,000. “We just wanted the hottest truck in town. And we got it.” Drawing on Otis and his father’s extensive artistic background, The Lucky Taco rocks some impressive designs and graphics.
Auckland’s already diverse dining scene seems to be heating up as more food truck ventures enter the industry in preparation for the upcoming summer months. Although there is a myriad of forms to fill out for licensing and permits, Frizzell said that in the end, it has all been worth it. “When you’re going full pump, and the music is blaring, and people are coming back for seconds and thirds and say ‘It’s the best taco they’ve ever had’, it doesn’t get any better than that for me.” The Lucky Taco certainly has an uncanny ability to turn an empty concrete carpark into something a little magical.