Friday, May 17, 2013 at 9:15 a.m.
Things are always changing out on those mean streets of Minneapolis, and the street-eats cuisine is constantly evolving. Trucks and trailers come and go (mostly new ones keep coming). One truck has recently undergone a change.
We recently visited Mr. Mustachio's under the mistaken impression that they were still being operated by their original owners. Thankfully, after that story ran, the new mind behind the mustache reached out and set us straight. Nikki Townsend has been operating the truck for this season. We asked her all about what we could expect to find at this dapper vehicle.
City Pages: How did you become involved with the truck?
Nikki Townsend: I worked for the Wadis last year, as the catering and events manager for World Street Kitchen, which also meant I was out working on the truck every day. I had been interested in food trucks for decades and was fortunate to get a job on one of the best trucks, and I had a fantastic experience. I was determined to get back to food trucks this season. I had heard through the grapevine that the folks from Mustachios were looking for someone to buy or run their truck, so I called a few people and met with the owners. While I wasn't interested in making the investment for a lesser known truck right away, I agreed to run it for the season with almost total autonomy. I run it as an owner.
CP: How long have you been operating it?
NT: I've been operating the truck since the last week of March.
CP: What made you decide to focus on hot dogs and brats?
NT: I've had a business plan for about 10 years, for a hot dog-centered brick and mortar. When I took over the truck, I spent some time testing recipes and developing an interesting and competitive menu. As much as I had the knowledge and the food was great, the menu items just didn't feel right. One day, one of the owners basically said to me, "You've been running other people's restaurants for so long. This is your opportunity to do what you want. You should be serving your dogs." After that conversation, it all felt more natural. I had been waiting a very long time to put the business plan into practice, and it was time to do it.
CP: I love the Minneapolis neighborhood inspiration for the dog names. Other than Nordeast and Seward, what are some other 'hood-dogs we can expect to see on the menu?
NT: Thanks! I love Minneapolis so much -- I have a Minneapolis tattoo on my arm -- and wanted to figure out a way to show that with the menu. We also have the Minnehaha (with bacon jalapeño sausage with cream cheese and roasted corn and poblano salsa); the Lyn-Lake (with sriracha aioli, grilled pineapples and three-pepper relish); the Whittier (with mango salsa); the Lyndale (with fresh guacamole); the Hennepin (with truffle cheese sauce and prosciutto); the Loring (with pulled pork and slaw); the Calhoun (with maple sausage, fried egg, and maple caramelized onions; the Rybak (with gruyere, arugula and caramelized onion); and the so far, very popular Nick-ollet (with nacho cheese, barbecue sauce, hot Cheetos, and Takis). And there're more to come!
CP: Also, tell me what the fries are like -- because I missed out!
NT: It's pretty basic: We double fry them and then sprinkle them with a seasoning. And, of course, they're always served with a surprise dipping sauce.
CP: Lastly, what is the best way for customers to track where you are and what will be on the menu?
I tweet every morning. Guests can follow us @mrmustachios
. We're downtown every day for lunch and at the Nomad Pub most nights for service. Guests will also be able to find us at some events this summer including Beer Dabbler at Pride, art festivals, and the Twin Cities Blues Fest. Also, all of our sausages are from Kramarczuk's and our bread is from French Meadow.