Anyone who is a food truck fan in San Diego knows the big ORANGE truck. That’s David Wasserman’s famous Joes on the Nose beverage truck serving up coffee, tea, and smoothies. One of the first trucks ever in SD, you can always count on JOTN for odd, humorous non-sequitur tweets that keep fans engaged, and not to mention, a great cuppa. And SDFT doesn’t hold it against him that he’s a Mets fan.
1. When did you open for business?
We first rolled out onto the streets of San Diego on May 26th, 2007. We’re about to celebrate the Truck’s 4th birthday- they grow up so fast.
2. What did you do before you had Joes on the Nose?
I worked as a grip on films & TV shows in New York, LA, and San Diego for around ten years. We ate two to three meals a day out of a lunch truck. Luckily there are some very talented chefs in the movie catering industry- I got used to eating high end food out off a Truck in ’97. By the way, thank you for not including an apostrophe in our business name.
3. Why did you decide to open a beverage truck?
“Joes on the Nose” opened to serve surfers and beachgoers in San Diego- lots of our drink names are surf-related. You can’t paddle out in San Diego in the winter without a warm drink before and after. Friends and I talked about the need for a Coffee Truck for years, and then I found the Truck on Ebay and went for it.
4.What’s your favorite thing about running the business and what is your biggest challenge?
I like the experience of dealing with & continually studying coffee. I love the community that the Truck creates- all of us (customers included) are part of one big (caffeinated) family, that (generally) doesn’t complain too much when we turn the music up. We all like to have a good time- I’m convinced the Orange helps make this happen. Managing our beverage catering service (with our Organic Espresso Bars, Hot Chocolate Bars, and Smoothie Bars) at the same time as the Orange Truck keeps us busy. Thank goodness for a steady coffee coffee.
While I wish we could drive around town filling up everyone’s empty coffee cup but we need volume customers each day. Finding the “perfect” weekday locations for retail lunch spots has been interesting. Thankfully local companies love to hire the Orange Truck as a treat for their employees.
5. What would you say is your most popular drink?
Our menu is designed to appeal to a variety of tastes, so we have a few different faves. Honestly, just as many people love our drip coffee, lattes, and cappuccinos as do our signature drinks- which have gotten us lots of praise- and press. Our “Aloha Latte” leads the way- part of that is probably our Truck-made Coconut Whipped Cream. Recently our “Horchata Latte” has been gained momentum at freeway speeds.
6. What is something “off the wall” that you would love to serve but aren’t sure people would go for?
I’ve always wanted to bring the “egg cream” to San Diego. It’s a drink I grew up with (in Brooklyn)- which contains neither eggs or cream. It’s delicious. We’re continually developing original drinks in The Test Kitchen (caps intended). We’re still trying to master the elusive Macchiatocorn: two shots of espresso with a sparkling dollop of unicorn on top.
7. What advice would you give to someone who was thinking of starting their own food/beverage truck business?
Truckin’ ain’t easy. For those that are thinking about entering this business, research and think of five solid places where you can vend on a regular basis. Then, think of six completely different places to go when the first places don’t work out. I think this is a pretty good (& necessary) first step. Respect and learn from others who are already in the business. And please remember to use your turn signal.
8. You were one of the original trucks in San Diego. What do you think of the current truck scene and the fact that it’s becoming so popular very quickly?
I love it. I’ve watched the steady wave of Food Trucks build across the country, and I’m impressed with what’s happening locally. Unique, original, with a San Diego spin.
There’s more coming, including Truck events, excitement, & general awesomeness. I’m looking forward to San Diego learning about and embracing Food Trucks as part of the talented food scene that’s grown here in recent years, as well as working with San Diego County & local business associations to help these small businesses grow. This will help local Food Trucks, and their fans, everywhere.
9. Anyone who follows you knows that you have the most entertaining tweets. What role has social media played in your success?
I can’t believe that my ongoing social media conversation with myself hasn’t hurt business. No, we’ve had great relationships with customers one-on-one from the beginning- we use all them new-fangled ways to continue the chit-chat (in a non-creepy way) while not in the Truck. I tend to use social media to discuss what we’re “about,” rather than as a tool to let you where we’re at (though we do that, too). We’re down to talk, whether about espresso, life, or to partake in the continuous “pirates or ninjas?” debate. We were fairly established before the Twitter thing, but it’s absolutely helped us.
10. What is the best thing you’ve ever eaten or drank from a food truck? Which truck was it and where?
I can’t name one favorite, especially here in town. There are lots of Food Truck faves on the list. I’ll never forget my first trip to one of the shrimp trucks on the North Shore of Oahu (spicy, two scoops rice, mac salad). I’ve had killer food off Trucks on some of the film sets I worked on. I never turn down a vanilla soft-serve ice cream cone with chocolate sprinkles from a classic ice cream truck. That being said, I’m a big fan of what’s happening in Food Trucks locally. Creative and delicious stuff, with more to come.