Popular mobile food truck reveals expansion plans
AFFECTION from their customers has spurred on the masterminds behind El Papas.
Francis and Mandy Shanks never imagined their Mexican food truck would be as well received as it has been.
But crowds have gathered in droves to taste their "home-cooked, quality, flavoursome food” at festivals across the region.
Now the couple have set their sights on opening a takeaway store in the near future to meet their escalating demand.
Mrs Shanks said she and her partner continued to get a buzz out of what they did.
While a lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes, she still gets a thrill seeing people at their best at each event.
"Our line up at most of these festivals is 50 minutes long,” Mrs Shanks said.
"The fact people are willing to stand in line for that long to try our food just blows us away.
"It has escalated to the point where it's quite popular and we love it.
"We love the feedback, we love doing it and it just makes us happy that people enjoy our product.”
One stand out memory from the 18-month long journey in the industry was the River Sessions Festival last year.
The pair believed they had prepared appropriately for the event at Queen's Park to sustain business throughout the event.
They were sold out of food in two hours.
Mrs Shanks said they focused on a market and niche that had not been tapped in the region, and this placed their product in high demand.
She said it was crucial for current and prospective vendors to adhere to this business strategy, and channelling the passion that made each business unique would lead to the best results.
"It all comes back to having a unique product with a unique flavour, there's nothing else like us out there,” she said.
"I think the more individual a product you have the better you will do.”
While plans for a takeaway outlet have not been finalised, Mrs Shanks said the venture had an extensive menu that made an expansion the logical next step.
She said they had to shorten the options at festivals and a permanent store would enable them to share their creations wide.
"With festivals, to pump the food out quickly, we've had to shorten (the menu) to nachos, churros and Mexican hot dogs,” she said.
"People love our pizzas; they're very different, thin and crunchy and we would love to be able to bring back all our different flavours.”
While the truck moves around regularly to a host of festivals, events and markets, the enormous contingent of customers have made the business a resounding success.
It has taken a relentless work ethic to launch the partnership to success, given both have careers outside of El Papas.
Mr Shanks has day job as a plumber, while Mrs Shanks also works as a carer.
In spite of the dedication required, Mrs Shanks implored others to get into the industry. She said if prospective vendors had a product they believed in, nothing should hold them back.
"We thought we would be in one spot road side vending four or five nights a week - now where we are is completely different.
"If you're passionate about it, go for it.”