The humble taco was the muse for Boyne City area’s first food truck, an idea that sprouted between two friends in college.
Since last November, Drue Wright and Drake Nagel have been running the awardwinning Happy’s Taco Shop, a mobile café that’s bringing fast food with a fresh twist to the region.
GENTE COMO NUESTROS TACOS
Happy’s Taco Shop, which was voted top 15 nation wide in Mobile-cuisine.com’s “2014’s Food Truck Taco,” is one of several food trucks hoping to operate in Boyne City this spring and summer.
At press time, the city commission was debating how to regulate the trucks.
Fortunately for Happy’s, a winter gig at Boyne Mountain Resort helped cultivate a local following.
“We knew that opening the truck going into winter would be a challenge, but setting up at Boyne has helped us stay busy while building a local following,” Wright said.
Nagel said the community has been supportive.
“We’ve had a lot of repeat customers and are starting to get regulars, which is nice to see,” he said. “It shows that people like what we do.”
The best way to find out where Happy’s will be is to check their Facebook page. They’re currently building their summer schedule, which they say will include the Boyne City Farmers Market and Boyne City Industrial Park, plus different festivals and other events around the area.
“We considered the option of opening Happy’s in a bigger city, but we both grew up around here and we love this area, so this made more sense to us,” Wright said. “Instead of bringing another food truck into a city that already has them, we wanted to bring the first one to a place that could benefit from it.”
¿CUÁLES SON SUS ESPECIALES?
The slopeside time at Boyne Mountain allowed the two to experiment and tweak the menu, but one item remained a standout.
“The fried avocado taco is the only item that’s been on the menu since the beginning, and people have liked it constantly,” Wright said. “It has a combination of sweet, smoky, and spicy flavors from the tomato jam and sprouts, and the cotija [a cow’s milk cheese] adds a crème element.”
Nagel said he likes the smoked pork taco. “We smoke the pork ourselves, and top it with pickled onions, house green sriracha, queso fresco, and cilantro,” he said. “The flavors are nicely balanced.”
Burritos, nachos, soup, and sliders have also shown up at Happy’s, as the menu continues to shift with Wright and Nagel’s whims and the seasons.
Both Wright and Nagel studied at Northern Michigan University, with Wright studying entrepreneurship and Nagel studying design.
After the friends graduated in 2012, they decided to maximize what they’d learned on a local level.
Nagel brought extra experience to the Happy’s Taco Shop venture with his work in the restaurant field, having worked at the old Tapawingo restaurant in Ellsworth and at Roquette Burger Bistro in Charlevoix.
Wright had honed his customer service skills working in the snowboarding industry.
“We realized we had the perfect combination of skills that would allow us to open a food truck,” Wright said. “We found the truck on Craigslist, and badda bing, badda boom.”
ME GUSTARIA COMIDA MEXICANA
Surprisingly, Happy’s focus isn’t necessarily on traditional Mexican cuisine.
“Rather, we’re focused on making unique tacos and other food that isn’t restricted by using a specific set of ingredients,” Wright said. “We use the taco as the inspiration for the food that we make, but it’s just our starting point.”
But the one thing that both Wright and Nagel focus on is quality ingredients.
“All of our meat is from [Petoskey’s] Tannery Creek Market, and we buy ingredients from farmers markets when possible,” Wright said. “We use unique, fresh ingredients, and we make everything we can in-house, including our hot sauces, which we will start selling soon.
“And we get our tortillas from Las Brazas in Grand Rapids – the world’s best tortillas.”
A constantly changing menu keeps things interesting at Happy’s.
“I like to experiment in the kitchen and try new techniques and ingredients and go from there,” Nagel said. “Basically, we make food that we want to eat ourselves.”
Happy’s Taco Truck can be found by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, online at happystacoshop.com and on Facebook. Translations: People like our tacos. What are your specials? I’m hungry. I would like Mexican food.