“She’s the chef. I’m the cook,” said Alberto Palmer, owner of the Stick It food truck.
Take a truck, build a chef’s kitchen, add Palmer’s talent and Ruth Lipsky’s imagination and you get one carefully grilled dream that started with a date years ago in a bar with a game of pool.
“He let me win so that he had to buy me a drink and we’ve been together ever since. Yeah, I’m pretty slick. Yeah, you’re pretty slick,” said Lipskey, Palmer’s partner and co-owner.
Palmer is also familiar with cooking, working every job in Houston restaurants except one: owner. It’s why he and Ruth bought their truck.
“We had looked at some real estate around the city and, I mean, it was quite expensive from what we had saved up and the food truck idea came up early on as an option,” said Lipsky.
“I don’t want to get stuck in the rut of no matter what your sales are, you have to make this payment. Or having an investor breathing down your neck,” said Palmer.
There’s still competition and it’s hard to stand out among Houston’s growing flock of food trucks. In the old days, food trucks relied on word of mouth. Today, Twitter and Facebook are helping them find customers more easily.
Some have reward cards and photo booths. All have opposition.
“I share some of my colleagues’ concerns, deep concerns,” said Houston City Councilman Mike Laster.
Mobile Food Houston is pushing council for new rules allowing food trucks to have tables, chairs and serve downtown while traditional restaurant owners who don’t want the competition are pushing back.
Lipsky sees no choice but sticking with it. Her place setting tattoos are a reminder.
“So I won’t forget! How embarrassing would it be to put the spoons on the wrong side,” she said.
They also remind her why she put herself through culinary school, why she and Palmer work 12-hour days.
“What we’d like to do is open up an ice house and then use the truck as our kitchen and then do some nice American food out of that,” she said.
It’s their dream and if all goes right, they’ll have it in a year. Until then, they’re enjoying this ride one meal at a time.
“I’m happy. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else,” said Lipsky.