LAKE STEVENS — Here’s a daring recipe: Quit your high-paying job, relinquish your health and retirement benefits, drive a food truck.
Lake Stevens resident Lynn Van Eyck did just that.
Last year, Van Eyck and her daughter, Shoshana Hazan, 21, opened Mama Shoshana’s food truck, which serves puff-pastry.
Until May, it was a part-time venture.
Van Eyck quit her job this spring as a legal assistant at a downtown Seattle law firm to run her new business full time.
She had to think long and hard about the move. Van Eyck recently turned 60.
Could she launch a business and still save for retirement?
Pay for health coverage?
Van Eyck gave herself 18 months to show a profit.
“I’m hoping next year at this time, I’m fully paid back for the funds I put in,” she said.
Van Eyck invested $40,000 of her own money to kick-start the truck.
“I’m putting my heart and soul into this.”
Hazan graduated from the University of Washington this spring with a bachelor’s degree in communications.
When they began their venture a year ago, neither mother nor daughter had any restaurant experience.
But Hazan was convinced she had something as good, if not better: her father’s Mediterranean-style puff pastry recipe.
Feta cheese, pulled pork, pizza or chocolate hazelnut wrapped in a buttery cloud —what’s not to like?
“We rely on the taste of our food,” Van Eyck said. “We knew our food would be popular.”
What exactly is puff pastry?
Customers asked: Is it like a Hot Pocket, the Nestle-brand microwave turnover? A pretzel, fried pastry?
“Our Greek and Israeli customers know what puff pastry is,” Van Eyck said. “It’s a much lighter, flakier dough.”
So far, business has been good.
The Boeing Co. recently began allowing food trucks to visit its secure aircraft assembly plant in Everett. Mama Shoshana’s is on the approved list.
“We go there two to four times a week,” Van Eyck said.
On weekends, they’re busy with local festivals and events.
“There is room to grow,” Van Eyck said. “Snohomish County is a good place to have our food truck.”
The trial-and-error phase of launching a food truck, thankfully, is behind them.
They had their share of fails.
The first food trailer they purchased wasn’t properly sealed for winter. “We froze,” Van Eyck said.
The 4,000-watt generator they bought to power the trailer didn’t meet the Snohomish Health District’s standards. The district regulates food trucks and other food-related businesses.
It didn’t provide enough power to run all of the trailer’s appliances, Van Eyck said. It was 1,000 watts short.
“Each appliance uses a certain amount of watts — I didn’t think of that when I bought it,” Van Eyck said. “We ended up buying a 5,000-watt generator.”
Another bust was the warming oven. It was commercial-grade equipment but it wasn’t certified.
“We had to sell it for half the price we paid for it and buy another,” she said.
Besides a business license, they needed food workers and health permits.
Even the commissary, the commercial kitchen where they bake their products, had to have health district approval.
“We make everything fresh in the morning,” Hazan said.
The pastries are loaded into the trailer’s freezer, then baked on site.
Their menu items are priced from $5 to $6.50. Their newest offering is puff pastry with a cheeseburger filling.
Pricing is tricky, said Van Eyck. “Do your research and try to determine your out-of-pocket costs,” she advised.
The days can be long and the trailer small, Van Eyck said. “I work more hours, but I’m happier. People thank us for coming by.”
Mama Shoshana’s stayed close to home last month, serving folks at Aquafest in Lake Stevens.
“There were some people who came back three times a day for all three days,” Van Eyck said. “People wanted to know when we were going to open a restaurant. We’re working on it.”
For a list of food trucks in the Puget Sound region by city, go to Washington State Food Truck Association.
Janice Podsada; firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods