Most of the mobile food businesses on the streets of Boston have four wheels, a big kitchen or storage space and a humming motor to get them from point A to point B. Josh Danoff only has three wheels, a large wooden box and his legs.
But Culinary Cruisers, the company Danoff started with brother Noah and sister Leah and friend Jennifer Johnsrud, is no less a part of the food truck and cart culture than any other mobile food. A staple at farmer’s markets in the Somerville and Cambridge areas, Culinary Cruisers currently serves up Kombucha tea on tap right from their custom bicycle.
On a cold day at the Somerville Winter Market, Danoff chats up customers, laughs a lot and gives out tiny cup after tiny cup of Kombucha samples to curious customers.
Whereas nearly every other food truck or cart in the city makes their own cuisine, the Culinary Cruiser model is a little different. “Our business model is to go around and find other companies that are aligned with us environmentally, in terms of sustainability, in terms of organic and fair trade and just people’s philosophy and partner with them in a way that is really mutually beneficial to both people,” Danoff says.
The first partnership is with Katalyst Kombucha, a producer in western Massachusetts. Kombucha is a tea-based drink that has been infused with a live culture and fermented much like beer, resulting in a product full of healthy probiotics. Several Katalyst Kombucha flavors are offered by Culinary Cruisers, including the popular ginger, jasmine and a blueberry-based tea they call Bliss Berry.
“The Kombucha was kind of a perfect partnership example,” explains Danoff . “So what happened was they handed over all the accounts to me, and I’m now their sales rep. So I’ve gone out and gotten more accounts and we handle marketing, sales, distribution, demos … we do all that for Katalyst in Cambridge, Somerville, in Boston. It’s good for everybody, because the more people that recognize Katalyst brand in stores, then recognize the Katalyst brand here on the Cruiser.”
Although still a relatively unknown product, Kombucha has many devoted followers – particularly in the farmer’s market community – who regularly seek out Culinary Cruisers to get their fix.
Currently, Culinary Cruisers only sells Kombucha at farmer’s markets, at special events and by delivery, but in the new year Culinary Cruisers will be expanding their business with more bikes, more locations – they are applying for some of the newly opening food truck spots on the Greenway – and new products. The company has just started a partnership with Spindrift Soda similar to the one they currently have with Katalyst. They will market for and distribute Spindrift’s all-natural sodas across the Boston area. Culinary Cruisers is also hard at work producing its first in-house food product, a line of gourmet popsicles that they will sell on the bikes along with soda, with flavors like roasted banana, fresh and seasonal fruits and one based on the popular Bliss Berry Kombucha.
Danoff is eager to expand the Culinary Cruisers brand but emphasizes that it all depends on finding the right fit when it comes to partnerships. “In terms of other products, its partly us anticipating what a new product could be and what we think might work, but it also is us providing a service where we’re almost a mobile test kitchen for local businesses or small food producers that may not have the capacity in terms of manpower or the time,” he explains. “But then also doing the demos, doing their distribution, doing sales, and through Katalyst and Spindrift as well, we’re building up a network of retail spots and buyers and people that we’re forming relationships with. So, if a product does come along that we see it being a fit with the Culinary Cruiser brand and our philosophy on sustainability and agriculture and environment, and if they are good people, then we can take that on and potentially plug it into our network of distribution.”
Thanks to Josh Danoff (photo 1) and Dina Rudick (photos 2, 4, 5 & 6) for allowing us the use of their photos.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 6th, 2011 at 5:35 pm
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