By Ryan Bentley | Charleoix Courier
Ryan Bentley – Northern Michigan Review
BOYNE CITY — With their new business venture, Drue Wright and Drake Nagel of Boyne City are trucking an eclectic mix of tacos to customers.
The business partners opened truck-based Happy’s Taco Shop this fall. They plan to serve customers regularly at Boyne Mountain Resort in Boyne Falls this ski season, and will also offer tacos at local events such as the Charlevoix Bridge Drop on New Year’s Eve.
Wright said the idea for the mobile taco shop emerged while he and Nagel were students at Northern Michigan University. Wright studied entrepreneurship, with Nagel focusing on graphic design. Both graduated from Northern in 2012.
The business partners sought to bring a unique offering to the area where they grew up — Wright is from Boyne City, and Nagel from Ellsworth. They acquired a used step van and performed some modifications for food-service use.
“I’ve always wanted to start a restaurant,” said Nagel. “I’ve been interested in food my whole life.”
Nagel began working in the restaurant field as a teenager. One previous employer is Tapawingo, an acclaimed fine-dining spot that formerly operated in Ellsworth.
The truck’s taco selection evolves regularly. Fried avocado and smoked pork are examples of the choices recently offered.
“We try to keep it unique, and we’re trying to use as many local ingredients as possible,” Nagel said.
Along with tacos, Happy’s offers a daily special, which can range from Asian food to soups to sandwiches.
Happy’s Tacos operates 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Wednesday and Sunday at Boyne Mountain, and serves customers 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at the resort.
Once the warmer months of 2014 arrive, the Happy’s Taco operators expect to serve food at Boyne City’s farmers market and at other area events and festivals. The partners said they aim to peaceably coexist with local restaurant operators, and not to intrude on their customer traffic.
Michael Cain, Boyne City’s city manager, said the community currently doesn’t have any policies in place relating specifically to food trucks’ operation. But with more and more operators emerging in Northern Michigan and elsewhere, he said the city commission has directed staff to explore the topic in the next few months and find out whether any new policies should be developed.
As part of the process, Cain said officials likely will consider approaches taken by other communities to food truck operation, and provide opportunities for public input.