From Food Truck to Restaurant: Building a Brand. The odds are often stacked against ambitious future-restaurateurs (and other entrepreneurs). With creative ideas and a unique approach, starting small can lead to big things. The founders (and siblings) of Mei Mei Street Kitchen and Restaurant will talk about their experience building a brand and their business from a food truck to a restaurant.
Irene Li:But we ate all sorts of different foods. Quality and sustainability is so important to us - we try to make sure all our dishes feature ingredients that we're proud to sell. And of course we want everything to be delicious!
Margaret Li:Hi Ofer, so we actually opened a restaurant in November in Boston in the Audubon Circle neighborhood. 506 Park Drive for you Boston folks (shameless plug!)
Margaret Li:A lot of people expand from food truck to restaurant because having your own restaurant allows you to use the physical spot as your food truck commissary. So you are combining your costs with two sources of revenue.
Margaret Li:So you can be more reliable for your customers and develop a weekly following.
Ofer Hameiri:How difficult is it to build an audience when you moving from place to place? you missing your regular customers that holding the business...
Iron Sevillia:Im in
Ofer Hameiri:How would you pick the selling points? is there certain places that allowed it?
yoni oppenheim:Is the extreme weather in winter time does not affect the company profits?
Rachel Pietrangelo:Great tawk! Thanks so much!
Margaret Li:So then you get a sense of what food truck life is like and can use that to develop your concept.
Margaret Li:Sadly Andy can't make it today but he says hi everyone!
Margaret Li:People also are often surprised by the number of people working the truck. You need a lot of staff to put out food for a big lunch rush, so running a food truck means managing lots of people and lots of moving parts
Mary Anna Howell:Killed my dreams, raz!
Margaret Li:So people don't realize that you have to pay rent, and this can often be quite expensive in a city such as Boston where there are not too many licensed facilities
Margaret Li:So you have to keep it clean!
Andrei Berman:Anyone know the history of food trucks?
Erica Pratico:Can you suggest any resources or companies that can help with leasing a food truck as opposed to buying one? (for someone just starting out)
Margaret Li:THat means you need to rent licensed, inspected facilities and can't just cook food in your home kitchen and roll out to sell.
Steven Leibowitz:Hola Megan
Robby Reider:Woah, didn't even take rent into consideration. Interesting.
Margaret Li:Good call, Yoni. The weather in Boston, particularly this winter, does affect profits seasonally. So you have to make adjustments - more hot items, more items that can be served fast so no one waits too long in the cold!
Margaret Li:Over 1000 signatures on a petition, lots of neighborhod people supporting the license, etc.
Rachel Pietrangelo:Also, what about making it a BYOB? Do you need licensing for that?
Robby Reider:MAH, I was unaware of your NYC based food truck aspirations! I have an idea: Bisque-y Business (we would serve only bisque and our logo would be a take off from Risky Business with Tom Cruise -- shades, tighty whiteys, and a white oxford
Irene Li:(BYOB is not legal in Boston, unfortunately Rachel!)
Cassie Cook:Speaking of cleaning it, are there different standards for food trucks than restaurants? I'm sure its hard with limited space and equipment!
Margaret Li:Also, sometimes she babysits when Andy and I get out of hand:)
Margaret Li:Someone asked a while ago about food trucks being clean because you break them down every day. That is certainly true.
Robby Reider:ah nice. consistency/regularity has to help
Irene Li:Since we're a family business, we want our guests to feel like they're part of our story and part of our community! Sharing photos or tidbits on twitter or facebook has helped us do that well I think.
Margaret Li:Great question, Erin. So much good stuff around!
Margaret Li:Unfortunately these laws have been on the books forever and people are trying to change them, such as City Councillor Ayanna Pressley. But that kind of change takes time. So in the meantime, because beer & wine sales are a huge source of revenue in..
Margaret Li:Yes! We are excited to have craft beer and kickass wine soon. So come in and have a delicious adult beverage with us soon.
Megan Marrs:How do you go about choosing a commissary anyway?
Steven Leibowitz:Hi Margaret and Irene - what are the top couple things that people underestimate when they consider getting a food truck?
Tamir C:I have a trip planned to Boston this upcoming fall, cant wait 2 get a bite from the truck.
Jeff Rose:Hey all, really excited about this tawk!
Irene Li:Rachel, what a great question! I think the most valuable part of working together as a family is that we already love and trust each other. And when we argue, we can always call on Mom!
Sally Johnston:Say I want to stop in some quick bites and a refreshing summer cocktail...what would you recommend?
Steven Leibowitz:I'm going to plug my petition to get more trucks in Boston, don't yell at me any one :) https://www.change.org/petitions/mayor-marty-walsh-increase-food-truck-spots-in-the-city-of-boston
Meir Hanay:How are u iron?
Irene Li:We try to plan ahead with farmers about what we'll buy so they can grow produce or animals just for us. It builds security into the business relationship for both sides.
Irene Li:Hey Julienne! As you guys know I love talking local sourcing and this questions is a good one.
Julienne Stenberg:Thanks Irene and Mei!
Megan Marrs:Yeah Erin, like Steve said, Greenway is good, or SOWA is a good spot to visit for food trucks on Sundays.
Irene Li:Especially when we were a mobile business with no base of operations, social media was a really nice way to stay connected with people we only saw once/week or less.
Irene Li:Don't forget you can keep up with us on twitter/instagram @meimeiboston!
Irene Li:TL;DR there will be beer at Mei Mei soon!
Dina Fein:Raz Gal I get your point about being served properly, but there's the freedom of eating outside, on foot - a post modern picnic
Is the truck better for the environment than a restaurant ?
Megan Marrs:What were your initial goals starting the Mei Mei food truck? Was the end goal always to establish a brick and mortar restaurant, or did that just come as a result of your success?
Tamir C:Which kind of truck is currently in use? In my opinion it's a focal question, it concerns a lot of factors (fuel efficient, work space, seasonality and reliability) that directly can effect your expenses and as well as our bottom line.
Margaret Li:Your only option then is to purchase one from another owner at extremely expensive prices. And what this means is that many small entrepreneurs (often minority-owned and independent businesses in less popular areas of town) lack the capital to...
Megan Marrs:Where do you guys come up with some of your menu items? Some are SO creative, I'm really curious where those ideas come from. Genius shower moments?
Megan Marrs:haha, a well-deserved rant
Steven Leibowitz:Hey Erin, for food trucks, the Greenway
Meir Hanay:I think that Turkish food is the best in the world
Dina Fein:I'd rather eat at a food truck than at a restaurant!
Iron Sevillia:I think its a good idea that it is mobile
Tom Lorenzo:This was awesome! Thanks!
Reece Watkins:Hi I'm selling items on ebay if anyone is interested in buying reply back. :-)
Irene Li:Love this question. The opening was definitely insane - little sleep, much stress. But the thing that really put a smile on my face through those days was seeing a lot of restaurant and food truck
Margaret Li:Unfortunately, there is a quota on beer & wine and all-alcohol licenses in every city/town in Massachusetts decided on the state level
isis long:Hey this is Isis I want someone to talk to I am board
Mike Hammond:Grabbed a "Double Awesome" from this place last week... wow.
Irene Li:Do you think the popularity of food trucks is going to eventually lead to a drop in quality?
Irene Li:Rebecca Roth from the Gallows brought over a care package - bandaids, duct tape, tampons, advil.
Meir Hanay:Raz what do u think about Turkish food?
Margaret Li:This is a great question, Mike.
Margaret Li:Good question. We use a POS (point of sale) system on the truck that runs on wifi. The wifi cuts out all the time in certain locations!!
Margaret Li:We use social media a TON with our business and I think it has played a huge role in our success.
Tawkers Admin:Welcome to the comment section of the Tawk, where audience members can share their thoughts about the main conversation happening on the left. Don't by shy! Entering questions and comments is the only way to get the attention of the two Hosts on stage!
Irene Li:Since we opened we've sourced over 120,000 pounds of local product to Boston, and we're working to do even more in the next growing season!
Iron Sevillia:Is the truck going to stop in the same places in Boston?
Margaret Li:We try not to pull each other's hair:)
Irene Li:It really made us feel like we were part of a community - and that everything we were going through was worth it and we weren't alone!
Yoav Gal:Is the truck moving from place to place every day???
Dina Fein:Great tawk!
Margaret Li:So on the tough side, you can't just pull up and sell anywhere. But on the bright side, you know that this location is yours on Mondays from 11-3pm and no one else can park there.
Irene Li:What is the process like for getting a food truck licensed? I heard it can take a while in some cities
Irene Li:Whoop whoop! Thanks for coming, everybody
raz gal:David- what kind of food they serve?
Margaret Li:However, there are only a certain amount of trucks that can fit on the streets of Boston and it's getting harder for new trucks to get into those prime locations.
Steven Leibowitz:Thank you guys!
Iron Sevillia:It has a lot of benefits
Margaret Li:It also is both a logistical question as well as a market question. So for example, the Boston food truck community still could do with a lot more trucks offering different cuisines.
Megan Marrs:Thanks so much for doing this guys!
Mary Anna Howell:Steven, thanks! Next time I'm in the city, I'm going.
Margaret Li:And this kind of touches on Emily's question.
Margaret Li:Long time no see dude:)
Cassie Cook:Thank you guys! Can't wait to try the Double Awesome next time I'm in beantown
Robby Reider:Many thanks!
Ali Ryho:Hey ppl
David Trott:Raz, I disagree. Have you been to Prospect Park on Saturdays? Amazing selection.
Margaret Li:If you're on the Greenway, you could then meander to Fort Point and go to Row 34 or Drink or Sportello or Tavern Road or Flour
Mirloz Zhab:Can people order online?
Rachel Pietrangelo:Can you share an anecdote about opening the restaurant? Maybe something that was terrible at the time, but makes for laughs now?
Sally Johnston:I love food trucks! What is your favorite part about having one?
Margaret Li:The Double Awesome is one of our top-selling items, a scallion pancake sandwich with Vermont cheddar cheese, local greens pesto, and two slow-poached then fried eggs.
Rachel Pietrangelo:I have a question! Being siblings, business partners and friends how do you deal with disagreements that pertain to the restaurant? Is there someone in the family that acts as a mediator?
Ofer Hameiri:What's the difference between running a successful food truck and running a successful restaurant?
Margaret Li:Kelly, the other important thing to keep in mind is that every city/town has different rules
Margaret Li:I think the answer to Jeff's question depends a certain amount on where you are.
Irene Li:Hey Robby! Thanks for your question. We got really excited about food trucks back in 2012 when we saw the Great Food Truck Race on Food Network and also noticed a few trucks popping up around Boston.
Margaret Li:So Courtney's question is great and reflects what a lot of other people have been asking in terms of challenges on the restaurant side.
Megan Marrs:Can you imagine how awesome it would be if BYOB was legal? Come on Boston, throw off those puritanical chains!
Margaret Li:We usually have 6 people on busy days and that involves a lot of coordination!
Steven Leibowitz:With pastrami, Cassie :)
Margaret Li:And to answer Stuart's question, I think actually the opposite is true.
Steven Leibowitz:Lots of good trucks in Boston Tamir and Nathalie. Read Megan's blog bostonfoodtrucks.wordpress.com or mine hubfoodtrucks.com :) . Did I get that right Megan?
Margaret Li:What's the best foodie area in Boston? Any suggestion for people looking to visit and focus on a foodie adventure?
Margaret Li:what role did social media play in the growth of your business. i just saw that movie "chef" and thought of you guys!
Trey Williamson:What's a double awesome I want one!
Margaret Li:Awesome stuff going on in Somerville too.
Margaret Li:And thanks to the Society of Grownups for making this Tawk happen!
Margaret Li:We're psyched to be here doing this, brought to you by Society of Grownups https://twitter.com/societygrownups
Iris Early:What kind of research was done to decide placement of the food truck? Does the license allow you to move locations?
Irene Li:Irene, how did you get stuck with being the "babysitter" at Mei Mei restaurant and street kitchen? :)
Margaret Li:What this means is that when there are no longer license available, as we encountered in January, you can no longer get one from the city at an affordable price.
OC Manos:Are you working with any reservation app? Or your Restuarant is "no reservation "
Margaret Li:Ooh lots of great questions. We'll try to hit as many as we can. I like this one from Trey...
Irene Li:Hi Irene and Mei! Miss you guys! I was curious to know if you guys find it challenging to source locally while also keeping costs down?
Margaret Li:In Boston, the food truck locations are decided by the City mostly, with some input from the community and trucks.
Irene Li:Thanks for your kind words, Megan! We draw on lots of different sources for inspiration, including our Chinese background. We also let seasonal availability of local products dictate a lot of our menu direction. We grew up in a Chinese American house
Rodrigo A. Bartels:Hi!
Margaret Li:How difficult is it to build an audience when you moving from place to place? you missing your regular customers that holding the business...
Margaret Li:More trucks means more dedicated operators, more great cooks, more passionate people will take a chance on a food truck. The bar is raised and new entrants have to hit a higher level of quality to compete.
Margaret Li:Speaking of cleaning it, are there different standards for food trucks than restaurants? I'm sure its hard with limited space and equipment!
Margaret Li:The liquor license has ben a particular issue for us. For those of you following our business, you mayknow that we applied for a beer and wine license in January and had TONS of support.
Irene Li:Thanks for your enthusiasm, everyone! It's great to know there are lots of folks out there who care about food!
Margaret Li:We're going to spotlight two questions that kind of fit together.
Margaret Li:We love Washington Square Tavern, Ribelle, Fairsted, the Publick House...so much awesomeness going on there
Megan Marrs:@Steven SO magical
Steven Leibowitz:Hi Everyone
Margaret Li:Opening a restaurant is TOUGH. It is awesome, but it is lots of hard work every day.
Steven Leibowitz:I know their local commitment extends to times when they would buy kale from Atlas Farm I believe at Copley Farmers Market and use it that day in the Magical Kale Salad. Which is magical.
Margaret Li:Hahahaha. Anything with two eggs is two times awesome in my book
Mary Anna Howell:BOB, lehgo.
Blake Ian 🎶:Did someone just say there are plans for a NY truck?? ?
Margaret Li:Are you guys doing anything with Top Chef while they are filming in Boston?
Steven Leibowitz:Yes to what Megan said. So many trucks are very lazy about social media, it really makes a big difference when you engage people.
Margaret Li:The 3-4 hours of lunch service is only one small part of the whole thing.
Irene Li:The process for licensing a food truck in Boston is a big task. You have to work with the city program, with the fire dept, the health dept, public works, parking and transportation, etc. I think people interested in opening food trucks definitely...
Irene Li:Hi Margaret and Irene - what are the top couple things that people underestimate when they consider getting a food truck?
Margaret Li:SO MUCH GOOD FOOD
Margaret Li:It takes multiple hours to prepare the food and LOTS of time to clean it afterwards:)
Irene Li:When I used to work in a restaurant, I missed having that connection with the people who ate the food I prepared. I would watch salads walk out the kitchen door forlornly and wonder whether the people eating them were happy or excited!
Margaret Li:So there are only certain locations around Boston that are actually available for food truck parking. This is not the case in all cities, it totally depends.
Robby Reider:really lookin' forward to the inside scoop of their journey!
Margaret Li:Washington Square in Brookline is another new hotspot!
Food Truck Stars:What are some things that can help the food truck industry in Boston? Specifically technology wise? Also love the food!
Margaret Li:What's been the biggest challenge in moving into the brick & mortar? Any plans to get a liquor license?
Margaret Li:We certainly have our moments of 'disagreement' :) But the best part is we trust each other implicitly and know that each other is always doing their best for the business.
Dave Benson:There's a food truck in NY owned by a guy who always tells me trucks are cleaner than most restaurants because you have to pack every single thing away every night. Is that true?
Trey Williamson:OK I just went to http://meimeiboston.com and now Im starving!
Margaret Li:So we're going to wrap up now, thank you all so much for hanging out this past hour!
raz gal:Thanks from far israelllll
Margaret Li:That way you get a sense of the hard work, what service is like, how you prep the food, how to drive it, how to CLEAN IT
Margaret Li:Actually I want to spotlight my favorite comment so far...
Ali Ryho:Hey everyone
Steven Leibowitz:Boston winters? Sunny and 70
Margaret Li:Not only is it useful for logisitical details (here is where we are parked today and here is the menu of the day), but it is also amazing for building relationships.
Nathalie Benareau:Great tawk! it made me hungry and want to come to Boston for a bite to eat.
Margaret Li:LONG ANSWER RANT OVER:)))
Megan Marrs:haha, nothing says "we love you" like a pig head.
Margaret Li:So we get to see people near Copley Square, South Station, City Hall Plaza, etc. And that gets many more eyes on the truck and therefore many more potential customers.
Irene Li:Do the food trucks in Boston congregate in one area, or are they all over? How do you map out your route?
Food Truck Stars:What are pain points in regards to technology that you face constantly? Any thing that particular that you think would be helpful for food trucks?
Mike Hammond:I saw that Padma Lashki stopped by the truck last week :)
Margaret Li:And find our food truck schedule and restaurant details at www.meimeiboston.com
Irene Li:What's a double awesome I want one!
Irene Li:She's basically a culinary genius ^_^
Irene Li:Hey Sally, thanks for your question!
Iron Sevillia:I think paying for keep the truck up is cheaper than paying on a restaraunt
Margaret Li:I invented it right at the beginning of our food truck days when we realized that we needed super quick items to make during a lunch rush. And it combines some of the Chinese food we ate as kids with things we love. LIKE CHEESE.
Irene Li:Where do you guys come up with some of your menu items? Some are SO creative, I'm really curious where those ideas come from. Genius shower moments?
Ofer Hameiri:Do you guys have plans to expand or moving into a permanent place? In case you do...Where would you get the funds for it? We all know banks are really strict these days…
Julienne Stenberg:Hi Irene and Mei! Miss you guys! I was curious to know if you guys find it challenging to source locally while also keeping costs down?
Margaret Li:What are pain points in regards to technology that you face constantly? Any thing that particular that you think would be helpful for food trucks?
Meir Hanay:Yes Raz I think like u
Irene Li:I love food trucks! What is your favorite part about having one?
Irene Li:We're hiring :)
Steven Leibowitz:Raz a lot of people get take out at lunch from all sorts of places and I find trucks often have more interesting menu items and better customer service than a restaurant
Margaret Li:The industry is new, so a lot of city governments are still working out what is best for them. So a lot of times you figure things out with them as you go along!
Irene Li:Is the extreme weather in winter time does not affect the company profits?
Margaret Li:Irene calls herself the baby sister of the group sometimes. But other times, TYPOS HAPPEN.
Irene Li:This may seem like a weird question, but are there "too many" food trucks these days? Is the market oversaturated?
Margaret Li:acquire these licenses. So that means the big restaurant groups with lots of investment have the advantage over small shops like ours.
Steven Leibowitz:L'hit ra oat raz
Irene Li:It seemed like a great way to test drive (ha!) dishes and menu ideas without spending too much money. Our big bro had worked in fine dining and wanted a change, and my sister and I just loved food and cooking. Seemed like a great matchup!
Irene Li:It can definitely be challenging but we've found certain ways to make local sourcing work as well for us as it does for the farmers. A lot of this has to do with being flexible and helping them reduce waste
Margaret Li:As Megan and Steven have said, the Greenway during the week and SOWA markets on Sundays are amazing.
Margaret Li:However, there are more and more towns outside of Boston that are looking for more food trucks
Kelly Petersen:What is the process like for getting a food truck licensed? I heard it can take a while in some cities
Margaret Li:This is a fun question:)
Megan Marrs:So basically, food trucks are not for the lazy!
Erin Kilmartin:Are you guys doing anything with Top Chef while they are filming in Boston?
Nathalie Benareau:Can food trucks park anywhere they want? Or do you need a permit to park in a street?
Margaret Li:We met them both on social media and have also connected with many other restaurants and food trucks via Twitter and other channels. It's a great way to talk to our guests and other industry folks!
raz gal:I'm sorry to be negative but I prefer to seat inside a restaurant and be served properly (:
Margaret Li:But you have to name the food truck after them! (Mei Mei = little sister in Chinese)
Margaret Li:So another thing that many people don't know, and this gets back to Steven's question, is that most cities require you to sell your food out of a licensed commissary kitchen.
Margaret Li:Some of us here are avid Top Chef watchers, so we're excited to see how the Boston episodes go down!
Irene Li:Do you guys have plans to expand or moving into a permanent place? In case you do...Where would you get the funds for it? We all know banks are really strict these days…
Irene Li:or move a bumper crop of something in a pinch.
Irene Li:industry friends come through to support us. It really meant a lot that people came out to say hi - Chris Cronin from the Washington Square Tavern brought us half a pig's head!
Erin Kilmartin:What's the best foodie area in Boston? Any suggestion for people looking to visit and focus on a foodie adventure?
Mike Hammond:what role did social media play in the growth of your business. i just saw that movie "chef" and thought of you guys!
Margaret Li:So no one takes us for granted! :)
Megan Marrs:that sounds really tough with all the liquor stuff. Why can't we just have open container allowances and happy hours like other states?
Mary Anna Howell:Ah, the regulars stay in touch!
Margaret Li:(This has been a particular source of difficulty for us so prepare for a bit of a rant:)
Yoav Gal:I'm a little skeptical about the idea of opening a restaurant on a vehicle because my father had a burger restaurant an a boat and it wasn't a big success
Dina Fein:I'm in Boston once a week. Can't wait to check it out!
Margaret Li:So we have a bunch of questions about opening your own food truck, expanding, and saturation in the industry.
Yoav Gal:I love Chinese food!!!!
Margaret Li:And we've already got some fun questions going, so let's get started!
Megan Marrs:Hey Steve!
Irene Li:underestimate the sheer amount of administrative work it takes. You can't just buy a truck and pull up to any curb in the city - though that would be nice :)
Steven Leibowitz:Helloooooo back
Megan Marrs:Haha, mom power!
Abby Romesberg:how did you get started, what kind of business plan did you use for the food truck
Ofer Hameiri:I think it's a great idea, I don't know if you aware but Ben & Jerry's has started as well from a small business like you and we all know the end of it...Good Luck!
Margaret Li:And that's part of why we opened a brick and mortar restaurant - it's still affected by snow, but not to the same degree.
Steven Leibowitz:Mary Anna - I have had good food from NYC trucks. Wafels & Dinges beat Bobby Flay in a waffle throwdown
Megan Marrs:Yeah, you guys seems to really have social media down. I see you interacting a lot more with customers than most other trucks
Margaret Li:Ofer, this is a good question. While it can be difficult that we're only in each space once a week, it does mean that we can hit many more areas than a permanent location!
marie summers:Plan B Growth has the resources to finance start up trucks and expands established businesses.
Margaret Li:We love Union Sq Donuts, Bronwyn, Journeyman.
Erez Margalit:Happening to you that you run out of raw material in the truck during the day?
Erin Kilmartin:I am obsessed with their food truck in Boston always delicious!
OC Manos:What do you think about the food truck festivals? Good or too much ?
Margaret Li:Okay, going to take just one or two more questions, we gotta do some prep for dinner tonight!
Margaret Li:Hi everyone! Welcome to our live chat, thanks for joining us.
Margaret Li:What first inspired your food truck?
raz gal:David, the food truck scene in NYC is badddddd.
To much noise!!!
Megan Marrs:I saw a lot of double awesomes at SOWA, and lots of happy looking people :)
Margaret Li:Kristen Kish and Padma Lakshmi were at SOWA market over the weekend and they did stop by for a Double Awesome and Thai Curry Nachos
Irene Li:Plus we grew up right in that neighborhood - it's been awesome to see it develop into a food destination!
Irene Li:any thoughts on expanding in the food truck world?
Irene Li:Can you share an anecdote about opening the restaurant? Maybe something that was terrible at the time, but makes for laughs now?
Treylen Brown:Oh word
Margaret Li:Or click the banner below!
raz gal:This place is great
wed lmn:That's nice
Stuart Nadler:Do you think the popularity of food trucks is going to eventually lead to a drop in quality?
Margaret Li:this industry, we have taken the step of purchasing one. It has just gone through the City and next the State and we are hoping it will be up and running in June or July!
Ofer Hameiri:I like this app already !
Margaret Li:Reliable mobile internet would be great.
Margaret Li:Having a strong concept and identity is important. And a good crew of people! Definitely don't try to do this on your own. If you can rope in your little sisters, all the better.
yadin Israeli:How big of a role did social media play in the development of your food truck business ?
Robby Reider:What first inspired your food truck?
Robby Reider:very cool! seems like you've got a great thing going already!
Margaret Li:For example, two of the people on this Tawk thread (hi Megan and Steven!!) are big time Boston food truck industry supporters
Megan Marrs:You guys are double awesome
Some cities make it really hard for food trucks to survive… is Boston more welcoming of food trucks?
Irene Li:We're inspected regularly - more often than many restaurants - and are held to the same standards by the health department. We all have handwashing sinks, refrigeration, heating elements, just like restaurants
Robby Reider:Irene, how did you get stuck with being the "babysitter" at Mei Mei restaurant and street kitchen? :)
Yoav Gal:Hi I'm from Israel...In tel aviv 9 out of 10 restaurants is bankrupt...how is it in Boston??
Irene Li:I have a question! Being siblings, business partners and friends how do you deal with disagreements that pertain to the restaurant? Is there someone in the family that acts as a mediator?
Irene Li:What's the difference between running a successful food truck and running a successful restaurant?
Mary Anna Howell:What challenges did you face when you made the switch to the restaurant business?
yadin Israeli:I love pizza miro
OC Manos:Do you have a license for alcohol ?
Courtney McCullough:What's been the biggest challenge in moving into the brick & mortar? Any plans to get a liquor license?
Margaret Li:Not at the moment, but if anyone from Top Chef sees this, we'd love to!
Margaret Li:In addition, what a lot of people who think of food trucks as 'roach coaches' don't realize is that our entire food truck is visible to people coming up and ordering.
Margaret Li:Okay, now Irene's turn to answer some menu stuff!
Megan Marrs:Exciting stuff!
Irene Li:Plus, we each oversee a different part of the business - Mei the biz side, Andy the front of house and truck, me the menu and sourcing - so we're getting used to picking our battles.
Steven Leibowitz:For folks interested in food trucks in general, as a business and more, check out mobile-cuisine.com
Jeff Rose:This may seem like a weird question, but are there "too many" food trucks these days? Is the market oversaturated?
Margaret Li:BYE GUYS!!!!! xoxoxoxo
Irene Li:Can food trucks park anywhere they want? Or do you need a permit to park in a street?
Johnathonfall thethird:I wish somebody would open up falafel carts around these parts along with deep fried potatoes an sweet potato fries with 100% cold-pressed coconut oil.
David Trott:What are you thoughts on the food truck scene in NYC? #!?
Adam Densky:any thoughts on expanding in the food truck world?
Megan Marrs:Wah, I miss living in Washington Square. :(
OC Manos:Do you think to expand your truck to the suburbs? Such newton ?
Susanna Tran:Any plans to have bread pudding at the restaurant? I miss them ; ;
Margaret Li:This is a great question Cassie. I think a great first step is to go work at one!
Margaret Li:Even though we move consistently, we still have regulars at each location. And if they only see us once a week, they may be more likely to make an effort to come eat lunch with us.
Margaret Li:Come visit our truck or restaurant and say hello....this has been a blast!
Margaret Li:I bet a ton of people would love to get into this business but don't know how to get started. What advice would you give to people who want to open their own food truck?
Emily Wilson:Do the food trucks in Boston congregate in one area, or are they all over? How do you map out your route?
Megan Marrs:As someone interested in food trucks, I can say so it's so much more fun to interact with trucks that have a strong social media presence like Mei Mei.
marie summers:My Name is Marie and I can be reached at Plan B Growth at 404-239-7016 if interested
Mary Anna Howell:Thanks y'all!
Adrian Marin Rodriguez:?
shaxki kosher:ممكن نتعرف
Cassie Cook:I bet a ton of people would love to get into this business but don't know how to get started. What advice would you give to people who want to open their own food truck?
Margaret Li:Hi Kelly and HELLOOOOOOOO Steven!
Megan Marrs:Was it hard going from a mobile venue to a brick and mortar location? You go from being able to physically go to where the people are, to waiting for them to come to you. It would require a pretty different approach I would think!
Robby Reider:I would think a drop in quality would help those who maintain a gold star standard to rise to the top!
Julienne Stenberg:I did see your picture Mei with Padma so you could be on your way!
Irene Li:My favorite part of the food truck is getting to be involved in both the food and service side of the business. I love that I can make sandwiches and also wave to guests and say hi to regulars at the same time.