- Amy Hildenbrand and Cory Nunez of Austin Daily Press
Foodies, chances are that you have spent time on the couch watching a Food Network show or five. Well get ready, because you’re about to get one more reason to park it in front of the TV, namely Food Network’s newest show “The Great Food Truck Race” premiering Sunday, August 15th 2010 at 10pm/9c.
One of the teams that competed in the coast-to-coast race runs hometown food trailer Austin Daily Press. I stopped by to chat with fellow Atlanta transplant now living Austin and co-owner of Austin Daily Press, Cory Nunez, about his favorite bars in Atlanta, the upcoming Food Network show, and his approach to running a business.
Things were moving along briskly at Austin Daily Press when I showed up. Delivery orders were coming in and walk up business from both the Mohawk and Club De Ville was strong. Though he and Amy were busy grilling sandwiches for customers, a laid back Corey found time to chat with me, take some pictures, and yes… kick back a Lone Star.
Here’s the interview:
Q: Who are you and what inspired you to open Austin Daily Press?
A: I’m Cory Nunez and my partner is Amy Hildenbrand. Melani Feinberg is my girlfriend who works with us on events, festivals and TV shows. We knew there was an untapped market for late night delivery so Amy & I started the business with that idea. Grilled sandwiches became the answer to easily packaged and delivered food with minimal mess. We both loved the idea and product so we went for it.
Q: How was the filming of the ‘The Great Food Truck Race’ and what do we have to look forward to on the show?
A: The Great Food Truck Race was a lot of fun. Every single day was a different sort of challenge, but it was definitely something we would do again in a heartbeat. There will be some really funny moments of confusion and disastrous brilliant ideas. Every team had to basically make a new menu and marketing plan for every day of sales. It’s interesting to see what everyone comes up with on a tight budget in a foreign place and almost no time.
Q: I see that you have linked to the other competitors on your website – was there much of a rivalry during the show or were you all friendly with each other?
A: We did not expect to like any of the other competitors at all but most of the teams were really amazingly talented and cool people. Every team really fought to win this but when the sales day was over we all met at the hotel bar.
Q: What was your favorite moment during filming?
A: The whole taping of the show was a great experience. Tyler Florence was actually a really cool guy (you never know with celebrities) so hanging out with him was one of my highlights for sure.
Q: The Austin Food Cart / Truck scene is getting more and more crowded each week. Do you think it’s a fad or do you think Austin can sustain the food carts for the long term?
A: We have only been doing this since November so my opinion isn’t the best here. It’s nice to see people making and selling really interesting food out of carts, and more people are starting to respect and understand that there are real chefs and cooks behind these ventures. However, average tacos and burgers with mediocre ingredients won’t make it in this city anymore. I think the cart scene will slowly weed out the less genuine and less motivated cart owners. This is not a business you get into to make money. If that’s your goal, to get rich from slinging hot dogs or grilled cheese, you’re in for a rude awakening. With good products and a lot of hard work you can make a living doing this. For most of us out there, that is enough.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about running the business and what is your biggest challenge?
A: It’s a great feeling to own your own business, regardless of size of profit. I love hanging out downtown at the cart, throwing back a few beers, listening to the music we like and selling bad ass sandwiches at a good price. With this being the restaurant business, there are always challenges. The thing I’ve learned in my tenure in this business is that something will always break, something will always get fixed and business will always go on if you just keep showing up. Spend enough time with anyone and you will disagree on something you already agreed on. I guess the most challenging thing for me and Amy is not overthinking and reworking this simple idea we came up with that works. There may or may not be growth in our future with this venture but only time will tell. Pushing growth before you’re ready most certainly ends in empty bank accounts.
Q: Why food delivery? Are there any unique challenges associated with that?
A: “Delivered to your barstool” was the key idea before we even knew we wanted to do grilled sandwiches. I had bar tended around town for a few years and it always drove me nuts that there was no GOOD late night food close by or within delivery range, and with about 150 bars in the downtown area it seemed like a no-brainer to make feeding these professional enablers a priority. Amy came from New York, where every bar without a kitchen has a massive binder of delivery menus just waiting to keep the patrons inside and drinking. The only challenge we crossed while getting going was how to get their attention. So we just started bar-hopping, having a few beers and passing out menus. After about three weeks and 15 hangovers we finally had a good account base, and it’s only grown from there.
Q: What would you say is your most popular item?
A: Most popular item… probably the Pastrami, with sharp cheddar cheese and horseradish mayo (a childhood favorite of mine), or the Gyro and feta with Israeli salad and Tabasco tzatziki.
Q: What other restaurants do you frequent in Austin?
A: Always a fan of the Woodland on South Congress and Frank downtown. Also, Melani and I really love Olivia. We don’t have a lot of time to go out but we hope to have more soon.
The TastingBuds are looking forward to the show and we’re glad to have chatted with both Amy and Cory before they “hit the big time.” Hopefully the show does great things for them and takes them to new levels of success.
Thanks and Happy Tasting,