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‘Food truck life’: On the road with the Pink Ladies

With a wool cap to keep her head warm, Joslynn Gutierrez races to prepare orders for the day. She says she’s put her own “blood, sweat and tears into this truck.” Photo by Amy Byres.

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — A Bernalillo family drove themselves into the business of owning a food truck, learning what it means to be a part of “food truck life,” said Joslynn Gutierrez, co-owner of the food truck, Pink Ladies.

Joslynn and her brother, Richard Gutierrez, began this business with the help of family and friends in 2011, she said.

“It’s kind of funny. It started off with me and my brother driving down the street one day, and we saw a food truck. We kind of joked with each other, ‘Oh, it’s for sale; let’s buy that, bro. Let’s run a food truck,” she said. “And then we kind of just stayed talking about it.”

The pair talked to the seller and then decided to see if they could pull together enough money to buy the truck.

The same year Pink Ladies opened, the food truck broke down.

“Now, it was a blessing in disguise, but I was super devastated, like we had just put all of our time and money into it and it broke,” she said.

The Pink Ladies food truck is the brainchild of a pair of siblings from Bernalillo. Photo by Amy Byres.

Gutierrez decided to enroll at Central New Mexico Community College. She graduated from the culinary and baking programs in 2013.

In her final semester, Gutierrez enrolled in CNM’s food truck program with Street Food.

She was able to study her craft more in depth, she said.

“Because street food is all about helping people who want to, in fact, do this business, they get to come on and work on the CNM truck. They get first-hand experience, real-world experience, and see if it’s really what they want to do,” she said.

The Pink Ladies re-launched in 2015, with a new menu and equipment.

Gutierrez said what she earns from Pink Ladies is now her main source of income.

According to Statista, a website providing market and consumer data, the food-truck industry is valued at $996.2 million.

“I work with Street Food still, but if I don’t do this, I don’t make an income, I don’t make money, I don’t make nothing. So I am self-sustained off of this business. And to be able to say that is a huge blessing, because it’s not easy,” she said.

This industry has been growing at an average rate of 7.9 percent per year since 2011, according to IBISWorld, quoted in a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation report.

About half of food-truck business is lost during the winter, but the Pink Ladies stays ahead of this through catering.

“We’re usually dead by now. Most trucks have already stopped (for winter), but this year, it’s awesome. We’re still really busy; I already have caterings in January all the way up to May,” Gutierrez said.

She has notice that food trucks have become trendy, prompting more catering opportunities.

“I can’t tell you how many house parties we’ll go and cater, and people are all like, ‘Oh, my God, that’s such a good idea,'” she said.

This trendy way of business is growing, but it takes a lot of hard work, Gutierrez said.

“I have literally put my blood, sweat and tears into this truck. Obviously I am a chef, but now I am a mechanic because I have to know how to run my truck if it breaks down; I have to know plumbing because now I have to know how to do the water; now I have to know accounting. So now I wear many hats,” she said.

Recently, Gutierrez helped cater the Albuquerque Journal holiday party on two hours of sleep, after staying up all night baking a cake.

“Every intention I have is just out of pure love — literally all the food I make. Those dots on that cake, every dot I put, I said, ‘Love, love, love,'” she said.

This passion has carried her through a lot of hurdles, she added.

Gutierrez is now trying to focus more on the West Side market by becoming a member of the Rio Rancho Regional Chamber of Commerce.

She plans to do more business in this area once the New Year rolls in.



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