By Ben Tsujimoto | Buffalo.com
The owners of Betty Crockski, the only local food truck serving Polish fare, are looking to sell the business.
Kate Hey and Dana Szczepaniak, who served their first pierogi and kielbasa outside the Adam Mickiewicz Library in March 2013, believe that they’ve reached the limit of what they can do with the mobile operation. The duo now seeks a buyer to either maintain the local food truck business or grow the operation nationally through e-commerce.
“We want someone else to be able to see [Betty Crockski] through,” Hey explained.
Although the majority of their business stems from the truck, Hey and Szczepaniak have experimented with selling packages of frozen menu items, like pierogi, at local farmers markets this year. After witnessing promising results, the owners believe Betty Crockski has national potential like that of the English Pork Pie Company — now known as Parker’s — a multi-million-dollar e-commerce company producing traditional English fare in South Buffalo.
Like Parker’s importing of English products, Betty Crockski regularly orders rose water (for flavor), root vegetables and cured figs directly from Poland to give the truck’s menu authenticity and legitimacy, a tactic that, if continued, could garner commercial appeal.
For now, Hey and Szczepaniak plan to continue truck operations through November. Last year’s attempt at running the truck during the winter dissuaded them from serving long into the colder months.
Both owners have plans for the next step in their careers. Hey could only say that she’ll be involved in a Buffalo food project that’s still in development, while Szczepaniak, a CPA, will return to New York City to pursue management opportunities.
Hey and Szczepaniak said they were “humbled, honored and blessed” by the local support of their endeavor, which was powered by social media before the business even opened — they had over 1,000 Twitter followers by their first day of service. They also credit a food-inspired trip to Poland that took them to the country’s only Michelin-starred restaurant, Atelier Amaro, and reinforced the need to have native ingredients as central to their food-truck cuisine.
Like many of Buffalo’s successful food trucks, Betty Crockski was practically omnipresent at local festivals and events to build its brand, sticking to a simple menu based on varieties of pierogi, open pierogi, kielbasa and dessert morsels called Betty Bites. The deep red of the truck’s exterior helped it stand out from other food trucks. That, paired with a strong cultural connection with a large segment of Buffalo’s populace, fare crafted using native ingredients and the city’s trend of supporting startup businesses, created a loyal fan base.
The media appreciated Betty Crockski’s success, too: The food truck captured Buffalo Spree awards for “Best New Food Truck” in 2013 and “Best Food Truck” in 2014.
“It’s because of this city — its economy, affordability and support for local business — that two entrepreneurs were able to be successful,” said Szczepaniak.
“We originally thought about starting [Betty Crockski] in New York City or another large city,” Hey added, “but Buffalo rabidly supported small business, and it was unique that, in this business environment, we were able to achieve our goals and more.”
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