This post is part of a regular feature I have titled, “Things that are awesome” Wednesday. Yes, it’s only Tuesday, but I am really excited to share today’s post so I’m publishing it a day early!
In this weekly post, I share something that struck me as awesome during the past week. It may be a great recipe, a cool event, a favorite blog, a special moment or whatever else scores a 10 on the awesome-meter.
And if you have something awesome to share, I’d love to hear about it! Post to comments or e-mail me and let me know.
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Imagine your business is making totally paleo, totally delicious food. You spend your days and nights sharing grass-fed beef with lucky Coloradans. Some folks hunt your food truck around the city to get their meat and veggies and others you introduce to the “caveman” diet.
You started the business with two good buddies – guys who you have known since kindergarten and are “like brothers” to you.
And your company is taking off faster than Rich Froning Jr. completing Fran.
Will is the owner of Caveman Cafeteria. If you have visited a local CrossFit event, Mile High Spirits or A Taste of Colorado this year, you have probably seen the Caveman Cafeteria food truck. This paleo cafeteria-on-wheels is the most visible part of the business. However, it’s not the only part. Caveman Cafeteria is also a full service event management company that offers catering for events of all types, including weddings and holiday parties.
I managed to sit down with Will and his dog, Boris, one afternoon and get answers to some of my most burning questions about working in paleo – and ended up learning a little more about Wagyu beef and the standup comedy scene in Denver. Below are some excerpts from my conversation (edited and condensed.)
Tell me the story behind Caveman Cafeteria. How did you get into the paleo diet?
I was stationed in Iraq with the Army and started doing CrossFit with people in my unit. I started reading about CrossFit, paleo, primal and decided to try it. I did my best to approximate the diet, given the food in the military. Basically, I cut out all grains and sugars. I saw a huge difference in my life.
I was getting out of the military in May 2012. I knew I wanted to start a business but I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I wanted to live in Denver because the city has a great stand-up comedy scene. (Editor’s note: More on that later.)
My brother Kyle, who is an organic farmer, suggested a food truck. He came up with the name “Caveman Cafeteria” and I immediately said, “Where the hunters gather.” And that become the company name.
I talked to my two best friends who I have known since kindergarten. David Kenney, our chief of food service, has worked in many different positions in the restaurant industry. He is trained as a French gourmet chef. The French think “fat is good,” so that works well with the paleo diet. He also has connections in the meat industry. He works for Pilot Brands, the second largest importer of New Zealand grass-fed beef and lamb in the U.S. They source high quality grass-fed Wagyu beef from New Zealand, which has the best omega 6:omega 3 profile of any beef in the world.
Dave and our other buddy, Zach Kopp, our foreman of events, live in Florida. The summer is the slow season down there, so they were excited to come up and work on the business. Dave developed the menu and helped me select our catering team. He’s back in Florida for the winter, but he is still our chief of food service. He still develops all the menus and acts as a consultant. He trained our new chief of catering, John Hurley.
I bought the food truck from Craigslist in Miami in April. I had it shipped to Oklahoma, where my dad did a ton of mechanical work on it and then drove it to Denver, just in time for our first day of business on June 2.
So, is this your full time job?
It’s full time – plus I do stand-up comedy. Our first catering gig was a comedy club where I had connections, Voodoo Comedy, in Denver. We make a four course dinner for sixty to seventy-five people for the show every Saturday. It’s fine dining. We have the highest reviews of any caterer they have used.
Were you scared to start your own business? (Editor’s note: I would be scared.)
I guess I’ve always known I would do something entrepreneurial. I’ve always been sort of independent minded. I believe in myself — and I believe in my friends.
Plus, I had some money saved from the military and good benefits. If this didn’t work, I could go to school on the GI bill.
What are your goals for the truck? Where do you see the business in 5 years?
I want to have a catering team that is known as the best in paleo catering. We want to be the go-to source for weddings or any other event that is a celebration that involves health.
We want to keep the food truck but also add a big trailer that allows us to go around the rest of the state. Next summer, Dave will be back and we want to do events all over Colorado — Telluride, Aspen…
Maybe in a few years, get some sort of space, maybe open a restaurant. Our goal is not to borrow or seek investment until we have to.
What is the most popular dish on the food truck menu?
The bistro steak. Have you had it? It’s delicious.
Do you have any groupies?
You mean regulars?
Yes, I guess I do.
Yes, we have a lot of regulars. Regulars are the majority of our business. We’ve gotten a lot of regular customers because of Boris. He’s enormously cute. His official title is the chief of childcare services. The kids love him. Every time we take the truck on the street, people can’t stop petting him. People come over to pet him and fall in love with him – and then they try the food and fall in love with the food.
Is there a Mrs. Caveman?
Are you asking me if I am single?
Yes, I’m single. I’m working all the time. Starting this business is like the same schedule as being deployed in the army. I’m working 7am to midnight, most days.
Do you ever make people chase down your truck so they get the whole hunter experience before they eat?
No, I can’t say that we have. Not a bad idea though.
After I spoke with Will, I excitedly recapped the interview for my husband. I chatted away about making a career in paleo. Matt peppered me with questions about Will’s work in stand-up comedy. “Umm, I don’t know. I didn’t ask that,” I repeated over and over.
Perhaps you have some of the same questions about the comedy scene in the Mile High City. Or perhaps you want to try out some caveman cuisine. Or you want to enjoy a night out that allows you to eat the way you love and makes you feel fantastic. If so, you can visit Will and his team at one of their regularly scheduled events. You can also catch him doing stand-up comedy all around town. (He’ll be at Comedy Works South tomorrow.) Or you can contact him via e-mail and tell him you think his business is awesome and ask if he would talk to you about it. I know for a fact that he will.