Business owners are taking to the streets to bring coffee to the Lincoln community in mobile trucks.
Bradley Jenson, owner of The Chocolate Season, a chocolatier and coffee shop, 3855 Village Lane, started operating his coffee truck, Bonbon, in 2018. At the time, The Chocolate Season was moving to Lincoln from Iowa and the store’s construction hadn’t finished.
“I had always wanted a coffee truck, and the trend really hadn’t started yet, nobody around us was doing it,” Jenson said. “The opportunity arose; the local fire department was getting rid of a vehicle. I wasn’t really prepared for it but decided to get it anyway.”
Jenson’s idea for the truck was for it to always be on the move, driving from place to place all in the same day.
That aspect can be nerve-wracking, however.
“There’s the feeling when we are on the move and everybody’s a little nervous, we could open up to anywhere from five people standing outside to 100,” Jenson said. “That intensity gets you, it overwhelms you at the very beginning. But after about three minutes, we get the groove, we have music going and it’s just a fun environment. It brings a lot of positivity to everybody’s lives, including us as well.”
While Bonbon offers The Chocolate Season’s full drink menu, there are limitations on other items they can offer. But Jenson said this challenge is what makes the truck experience fun and unique.
“The challenge with operating on the truck is that we have so many different products that are coming out, but I can only serve you what we brought for that day,” Jenson said. “It’s unique and it makes it really fun because we can offer you really great choices.”
Bonbon is available to rent out for events and parties during its season, which has not started yet, but Jenson said the requests are already coming in.
“I love the support we get from the Lincoln community. Even though the trunk is still not quite active for the year, everybody keeps contacting us to get the traffic coming to them,” Jenson said. “Yesterday alone we had about a dozen different emails asking for it. I love that the community is so excited.”
Bonbon is one of many mobile coffee trucks in Lincoln.
Jenny and Mark Canfield, owners of NewDay Coffee, a coffee and smoothie shop with two locations in Lincoln and one in Hickman, also used a truck to help keep up business as they were getting ready to open their second store in Lincoln.
The Canfields bought NewDay, formally NuVibe in January 2020, right before COVID-19 hit. The truck was a strong form of traffic due to pandemic restrictions, Jenny Canfield said.
“The food truck did amazing during that time,” she said. “And it’s because hospitals, schools and staff, felt safe coming out to get their stuff and not having food catered in. And so it seemed to be a time where employees would hang out outside and social distance, so it became really popular.”
The NewVibe truck serves as a fully operating truck with all the necessary equipment on site so it can offer an entire drink menu customers.
“It’s basically just like the store except on a smaller scale and you can’t move around as much,” she said.
The NewVibe truck is available to be reserved for events and is already being booked for the summer.
“Our community is so supportive,” she said. “A couple times a week we have customers who come in and say just because you’re local, we want to support you.”
In the case of Bloom Coffee, the coffee truck came long before the coffee shop.
Operating a coffee truck is not easy, said Eva Rimpley, who, with her husband, Justin, recently opened Bloom Coffee.
Eva Rimpley ran and operated a coffee shop in Seward and pitched the idea a mobile coffee truck to the owner but was turned down. It wasn’t until years later after the couple moved to Lincoln that she was able to follow her dream.
“I just always had that desire to create a space where community can happen and creative collaborations can thrive,” she said. “A place you can hang out and connect and play games. I saw the possibilities that come from a coffee shop, but I really wanted to be mobile and go out to people if they weren’t gonna come to us.”
The Bloom Coffee truck had its grand opening in September 2020, and the couple recently opened a fully operating coffee shop at 505 N. 27th St. Rimpley said the truck is still available to reserve for events, but they are still trying to learn to balance the store and the truck and hope to be able to have both running smoothly soon.