Spring is in full swing and as summer inches ever closer, food trucks are starting to pop up around the city, giving people a perfect excuse to catch some rays while grabbing a bite.
Monks & Jonesie Gastro Truck has just started their second year serving up eclectic gastropub style food at local microbreweries. They’re currently stationed at Graystone Brewing.
We caught up with owners Krista Monkhouse and Mike Jones (Monks & Jonesie) to find out how it’s been going.
How did this get started?
Mike: She’s always said I would love to have a food truck and one day I was at work and a Kijiji ad came up about a food truck and I texted her just really as a joke and she said “let’s go look at it.” And I was like “alright.” We actually went to look at it and it wasn’t necessarily what we were looking for. It was stationary and it didn’t move. I was like: “oh well that was fun.” Then she called me the next day and said “we got a truck.” It all happened really quick.
What was your relationship before this?
Mike: Krista’s been my boss for seventeen years.
Where was that?
Krista: Snooty Fox and Cannon’s Cross.
Can you talk a bit more about how you got into the restaurant business?
Krista: I’ve done this my whole life. I love it. I’ve been really busy with Snooty and Cannon’s over the years and it’s just an opportunity that came. It’s just something different. We thought we’d try it. There was an opportunity here with Wes at Graystone to have a food truck and we said: “why don’t we try it and see what it’s like.” We catered our menu towards having food and beer so that’s why our food truck is a little bit different from most food trucks. We incorporate a lot of beer into the food and the food goes very well with the craft beer. It’s awesome.
Where do you find the inspiration?
Krista: We came up with pretty much our own thing. Our own recipes. Some of the features they’ve done at Cannon’s and Snooty we took a couple of those that would work well on the food truck. We kind of took that with some of them and tweaked it our own little way.
We did a lot of catering over the winter. We kept pretty busy all winter and then had a bit of a lull time and then got right back into it again. We’re going to be stationary with this one at Graystone for now and then we’re going to be building another one that’s going to be going to all the festivals and go up to all the other craft breweries.
Mike: We did a lot of catering over the winter and that was really fun because we were able to be creative and try different things. Some of the things we thought “hey this will work on the menu.” Our menu is still a bit of a work in progress for here where we are right now. Once we have that in a more secure spot, we can kind of go with our full menu.
What are some of the unique challenges of working in a food truck rather than a traditional restaurant?
Krista: Space is an issue. Having full electricity sometimes is an issue when the power flips the breakers because you’re using too much power. It’s the little quirky things you get used to.
Mike: Water. No dishwasher. We do have running water in the truck and hot water in the truck but you do have to fill a tank and then once that tank’s open then you have to take that time to go and fill the tank again.
Krista: And moving it. We did Maybee Brewery when we first opened and it takes time to keep all the food to temp and bring it to there and put it all back and bring your fridges up to temp. It’s a process…
What’s different about the way you interact with customers?
Krista: Being in this industry, when you’re managing, you don’t get time to talk to the customers where here you can wave. You can’t do that in a restaurant. You’re busy, busy and making sure everything is taken care of and just running perfectly. This is a whole different vibe for that where you can actually get to know people. It’s a little more casual, relaxed, laid back.
You must find you’re part of the community here.
Mike: Especially with our kind of marriage with Graystone. They have such a fantastic staff of really great people and they help us a lot. We do features every day and they’ll give us inspiration and it’s a really good mix of people. We’re really happy here and Wes and the Graystone have been very accommodating and we try and help each other out with everything that’s going on.
What kind of experience do you hope people have here?
Mike: That it’s fun. It’s an experience. I love when people say “I’ve never tried the duck before.” And then you see them over the next few weeks and they come back for more duck. When we were developing the menu, Krista was like: “I think we should try pulled duck.” And I was like: “I think that might scare people.”
Krista: Now it’s our biggest seller.
What are your future plans?
Krista: I think we’ll be busy this summer and then we’re probably going to buy the [second] truck in the summer and get it retrofitted over the winter and then have it ready for next spring for all the festivals and whatnot. Hopefully, then we’ll have a couple more. We have different ideas of taking the truck and maybe putting a twist on it, saying “Monks & Jonesie goes to Portugal, Monks & Jonesie goes to Spain.” Whatever to put a different twist on the food. But the more experience we get of what customers are looking for in the truck, that’s where we’re headed.
Mike: We get really excited about stuff but we need to focus our energy on this right now and then get that going. The second truck, that’s going to be a whole different ball game. The second truck will drive.