March 14, 2010

Hype and reality

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I thought this entry would be about Kogi as the antithesis of Clover. All hype, all image, no community, all meat, annoying capitalization of Ls on website.

And while some of those impressions may be true, after having visited a couple of their trucks, I have to say, I’m a huge Kogi fan.

If you haven’t heard of Kogi, they are a food truck in LA that got started shortly after we did. They got a ton of publicity right away (publicist?) and were all over the place (CNN, etc.)

Mostly I love their focus on food. They really are making tasty food at low prices. And at the end of the day that’s what we’re trying to do as well. We may have some other goals as well, but food quality and price are always going to have to be the primary focus.

Kogi’s trucks surprised me. I was expecting a very conceptual truck. Instead they took a dirty old taco truck, spray painted the back, threw stickers on the windows, fixed mechanical issues (I noticed new pistons to hold the awning in place), and wham, that’s it. I love that. We’re always trying to find ways to re-use and save money (e.g., using milk-crates instead of purchasing boxes). Money should be spent on the food, and employees. Really inspiring.

The lines are real, 15 deep or so at some of the trucks we stopped at, 2-3 at other trucks. Fun eavesdropping opportunities. Heard in line. You’ll think I’m making this stuff up, but I’m not, I swear:

  • Young hip couple: “we just got here from NYC. Couldn’t wait to eat Kogi”
  • Young guy with fancy shoes “I bought 2 pair, waited in line for almost 2 days so had to you know…”
  • Girl, 14-ish, with mother (quiet, just standing there)
  • Guy behind us talking to friends “Last night I got into ____ [I can’t remember name, fancy new restaurant that just opened] Nobody is getting reservations right now. It’s sick”
  • Guy with apple hat, the ones you get when you wait overnight in one of their lines at an opening “can’t wait for this man…”

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