By Alicia Wallace | DailyCamera.com
In 1980, the Cunningham family moved from Minneapolis to Boulder because the Colorado city seemed the ideal locale for their business: a hot-foods wagon serving up natural fare.
Bill and Joanne Cunningham rolled out the Rollin’ Greens truck to various Boulder industrial parks, selling about 350 dishes a day in 32 to 40 stops.
Thirty-one years later, the Cunninghams’ business is back on the road.
Ryan Cunningham, the youngest child of the clan, has partnered with his significant other, Lindsey Mandel, on RollinGreens — a Boulder-based food truck established in homage of the original natural foods wagon.
This generation’s iteration is heavily focused on seasonally focused local and organic offerings, said Ryan Cunningham, as he prepared a vegetarian spring roll.
“We’re on the more healthy side of a mobile food truck,” he said.
Cunningham attributes the culinary leanings to how he was raised and, later in life, professionally trained by his mother, who runs a cooking school. Ryan Cunningham, now 30, may have been a twinkle in his father’s eye when the original Rollin’ Greens started, but the food culture infused much of his life.
Cunningham coupled the experience from his mother’s school with additional culinary training and seasoning at a West Coast restaurant; architecture schooling from the University of Colorado; and, more recently, cooking as a private chef.
His mother, who has since changed her name to Julianaa Satie, helped give the blessing that allowed her youngest son to meld his culinary and design schooling to build a commissary kitchen on wheels and launch it in honor of the family business.
As she recalled the original intent of the early ’80s business, she also noted its playfulness — with dishes such as the Rocky Flats-inspired “Hot Tuna Meltdown.” “First of all I think we both feel honored that our youngest child would take that on,” Satie said of her former husband, Bill, who could not be reached for comment. “It’s very special; it’s a nice acknowledgement.”
The 21st century RollinGreens also leans toward a bit gourmet, Mandel added, noting the mango mustard and caramelized onions that top the Coleman beef hot dog.
“We want people to resonate with the food, but not expect it — try to be a pleasant surprise,” she said.
Launched on May 7, RollinGreens is one of five food trucks to apply for a mobile vending license with Boulder, said Mishawn Cook, the city’s licensing clerk.
The city recently set regulations for the burgeoning business sector that broadened the food trucks’ operating capabilities to include locations such as some public right-of-ways. Before, the food trucks were essentially catering companies that were allowed to operate on private property for limited hours.
As of Friday, city officials were expected to have granted three mobile food vending licenses and currently are reviewing the applications for the newest entrants of RollinGreens and Heirloom, Cook said.
Cunningham and Mandel say they know the market is competitive, but express confidence the culinary approach, the 24-foot rig’s full commercial kitchen, the Cunningham family’s history and the reception thus far will play nicely for the new business.
“We’re doing restaurant volume out of a 24-foot trailer,” Ryan Cunningham said.