This is part of an ongoing series about the start up of a food truck called NaanStop. You can follow us on Twitter, on Facebook, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any feedback. Check back here for updates!
First, let me apologize for going so long without giving an update! Even after managing a restaurant and working on another food truck, I can say now that I only understood about 50% of what I was getting myself into. The first two months have been crazy busy – I’ve been getting about 4-5 hours of sleep each night. But that said, I’m loving it. I meet lots of different people every day, feed them yummy naanwiches, and get caught in the occasional crazy circumstance…
4 days into service I’m on my way to a lunch spot in Venice. My crew is meeting me on location and I’m coming behind with the truck. Driving down Lincoln waiting to turn left onto Washington, my phone rings. I answered to talk to one of my employees. “Hey Sam. I’m almost there, just turning onto Washington now.”
As I hang up the phone, I smell something strange. I take a quick peak over my shoulder to look into the kitchen, then look back to the road. A few seconds go by as my mind processes my surroundings. Something’s not sitting right with me. I look back over my shoulder again. Some smoke is rising out of the fryer. I look back to the road, wondering if I can make it to the spot and deal with it then. I look back over my shoulder one more time. In a reflection, I see orange. Flames. Still on the phone, I shout, “Grease Fire!”
“Pour salt on it!” Sam shouts back.
I throw the truck into park, hang up the phone and run to the back of the truck, grabbing a box of salt on my way. As I reach to open the compartment under the fryer oil where the burners are, I wonder, “Is this a good idea? If I open this, I’m giving the flames more oxygen. But how else will I put it out?” I turn off the gas and open the door to the burners, burning my hand in the process. Bad idea. For a few seconds – it seems like minutes– I pour handfuls of salt and throw them at the flames like an idiot. Eventually I realize that the flames are on vertical surfaces and the salt can’t smother them. So, I run to grab a towel, thinking I can stamp the fire out. Just when think I have the flames out, they spread deep into the back, where I can’t reach without burning myself badly.
Pointlessly, I keep trying to stamp the fire out with a towel. “ The oil might catch on fire,” I think. I run out of the truck with a stock pot, open the back hatch, and drain the oil out of the fryer. As I run back into the truck, I kill the main gas line. The number of cars honking at me increases. Some as if to say, “hey buddy, I don’t know if you noticed, but your truck is on fire” and others, “You’re blocking the intersection jerk!”
Climbing back into the truck, I dial 911. But, too many things are going through my mind and I throw the phone on the counter without talking to anyone. The smoke is getting thick and it’s burning my eyes. I think, “I’m on a truck with propane, oil, and gasoline…and it’s on fire. Fight or flight time. Do I run? Do I tell the cars around me to get the hell away? Why won’t these cars stop honking at me?! Why do I STILL not have health insurance? WHERE IS THE FREAKING FIRE EXTINGUISHER?!?!”
The flames leap out from the fryer and begin to spread across the back of the truck. It’s time to run. Just as I jump out the door, I see a man charging down the street with two fire extinguishers. He throws one to me. We pull the pins and douse the back of the truck, finally extinguishing the fire. With the bitter taste of fire extinguisher dust in my mouth, I step out of the truck to see the police and fire department rolling in.