Robb Muise doesn't want to be known as the guy whose "food truck was destroyed on day one," but that's the unfortunate reality for the Oakland Park entrepreneur. His recently completed food truck, Friar Tuck's, was totaled on June 13 in an accident on the Florida Turnpike. The crash occurred as Muise; his wife, Abby Muise; and a friend were on their way to a food-truck rally in West Palm Beach where they planned to debut the new, eco-friendly sandwich and snack truck.
Muise was driving a pickup truck that was towing the food truck -- outfitted in a revamped 31-foot Airstream -- in rush-hour traffic when he lost control of the two vehicles after encountering stopped traffic. Fluctuations in speed are difficult to navigate in larger vehicles, and as Muise notes, fast braking is nearly impossible. Muise was forced to steer the two vehicles onto the shoulder, where the Airstream collided with a pole. Read Muise's full account of the crash here
"It was so surreal when it happened," Muise said. "Six months of work is gone in ten seconds." Much to Muise's relief and amazement, no other vehicles were involved in the accident and no one inside the pickup truck suffered any injuries. "We missed everybody in rush-hour traffic."
The Airstream was destroyed in the crash, and to salt the wounds further, Muise received a traffic citation for failure to have the brakes hooked up on the Airstream. "We had it checked out by two U-Haul [rental companies] in Virginia and Maryland, and they told us that it was not a model that had brakes, so we never questioned it," Muise said.
Because all of the couple's finances were wrapped up in the launch of Friar Tuck's, they have gone into recovery mode, and Muise is working to get a new truck up and running as quickly as possible.
"Literally, the day of the accident, we ran out of money," Muise said, explaining that they were counting on income from that first truck rally to carry them through. "I have a month to do this... We need an '80s montage where everyone in the neighborhood comes in and paints the truck."
Friends and family -- and fans -- have stepped up to help launch the second incarnation of Friar Tuck's, and Muise cites the outpouring of support as crucial in his efforts to rebuild. His father-in-law has donated an eleven-by-seven-foot trailer, and a master carpenter is onboard to build a new structure designed to look like an old English pub. A family friend (whose teen son was looking forward to working for Muise in the food truck) has given the couple a small -- but critical -- loan to help them stay afloat until they can begin bringing in income from the truck.
Muise said he is at least fortunate in that he "made all the mistakes with the first truck" and that he has a more clear idea of what to do this time around. He's sticking with the original goal of owning and operating an eco-friendly food truck, and the new design will use as many reclaimed and salvaged materials as possible. Lighting will come by way of "two-liter lights," an electricity-free technique used in some developing nations to capture solar rays. (Read about the technique here
Once things are up and running, Muise said he hopes to fill a niche in the South Florida food truck scene by focusing on areas in Broward and Palm Beach counties that are underserved by food trucks, as opposed to concentrating only on rallies.
"The fun of it is when you show up out of nowhere," Muise said.
Clean Plate Charlie will track this story as it progresses. Find Friar Tuck's on Facebook
. Anyone interested in making a donation to the startup business can visit Muise's GoFundMe page here
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