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    Eat & Swig

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    Peanut butter and jelly; such a simple combination, but when spread together on the right piece of bread can conquer any appetite. Pair your sandwich with a healthy apple or banana and you’ve got a meal that you won’t feel remorseful about and your mother would be proud you ate. Now insert a food truck and you’ve got the perfect collaboration of convenience and succulence.

    Owners Shawn Arny and Katie Flack are introducing Squirrely’s to the local Louisville food truck scene. Squirrely’s will offer a variety of breads, nut butters, an assortment of spreads, healthy sides, smoothies, and treats for both you and your canine friend. Everything on their menu is NON-GMO and predominately organic. The origin of where the food comes from is important to them and you can find gluten-free, soy-free, whey protein, and vegan plant based protein powder on their menu.

    Almond Butter and Blackberry Jam, on Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin Bread

    You can view a full menu list, including their breads, nut butters, spreads, a list of their specialty sandwiches, sides, smoothies, and treats, on their Indiegogo website.

    Shawn Arny and Katie Flack have a vision of providing a location for locals to pick up a delectable sandwich with a variety of nut butters and spreads in a convenient food truck fashion. With a goal of providing a bakery type atmosphere, they are asking for help from you to make this goal a reality. They are currently accepting contributions on Indiegogo, in which for each donation you can choose a perk of your choice per your contribution. The campaign ends on February 6th. 

    I had the absolute pleasure of speaking with owners Shawn and Katie about Squirrely’s, their background in food, the challenges of starting a business, and their campaign and how we can help them make their vision become a reality.

     

    Tell me a little about each of you. What brought you to your interest in owning a food truck?

    Shawn: Roughly 10 years ago, my sister and I talked about starting an all vegetarian/vegan fast food restaurant complete with a drive-thru window. There was nothing like that here in Louisville at the time, and really there still isn’t. We settled on the name Bean Sprouts; planned out a menu, had a logo made, and were designing the restaurant décor in our heads. It sounded good, but a lack of money and more pressing life demands brought it to an end before it even began. Fast-forward about 5 years and the desire to own a restaurant was still there.  I had worked in restaurants before, during, and after college and often thought, “I could do this, I just need a little capital to start out.” More times than not, it takes money to make money, which was unfortunate for me since I didn’t have any! The food truck scene was becoming more popular around the country (at least to my knowledge), or perhaps I was simply more alert to it.  For me, it makes the most sense as a way to start out before transitioning into something bigger. 

    Katie: I am a soon to be 35 year old mom of 2 amazing kids. Since about the age of 17ish folks have seemed to place quite a bit of emphasis on the question “ What do you want to be or do when you grow up” or “What’s your passion?” I spent most of my adult life thus far trying to find the answers to both of those questions! Looked for answers in countless attempts at school and different jobs. I always come back to food. Having my own shop/bakery/cafe has been in the back of my mind for many years now. To Shawn’s credit, the food truck was his idea. From the second he brought it up to me, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I think it’s brilliant. There are so many poor quality fast food options out there that cater to our rushed lifestyles. To me, a food truck is an awesome alternative! You get the convenience of fast food, but with homemade, fresh and healthy options. It appears as though food trucks are on the rise, especially in bigger markets. Louisville needs more! It’s a great city with great people who deserve to be treated to wholesome and delicious food.

    How important was it in making the decision to provide Gluten-free, organic, and NON-GMO items?

    Shawn: I have a daughter and it’s very important for me to feed her the best food I can. I strongly believe in using food as a medicine, both to prevent as well as help overcome sickness and disease. I’m not saying our menu is the go-to as a picture of health, but I would not hesitate to share and compare our ingredients with anyone. For me, it’s the number one requirement to offer non-gmo, organic, and gluten free bread options. I know gluten free is a big craze at the moment but just because something is labeled gluten free does not make it healthy. A lot of the GF items you see in stores are no better than junk food in my opinion. We’re trying to exclusively source 100% non-gmo ingredients and would ideally like to be certified as the first non-gmo food truck in the USA. There’s a reason all of Europe, Japan, Australia, as well as many other countries have restricted or banned the use of GMO’s in their food supply. The United States is simply not up to speed in that aspect, due to the financial grip of Monsanto. We have created a family friendly menu that adults can feel good about eating, and feeding their kids too. We also hope to raise awareness about food sourcing, and get people talking about sustainable farming practices all across the board. Our menu will be 100% transparent.

    Katie: It’s very important. We only get one body in this particular lifetime and treating it well is the best gift that we can give ourselves. I really see no reason, if financially able, one wouldn’t choose to eat organic and non GMO foods. I know that gluten is one of the culprits in many health problems these days. Providing our customers with food that won’t harm their bodies is extremely important. We want people to feel satisfied and good when they eat our products

    You specified your risks and challenges on your Indiegogo page.  What has been the biggest challenge you have had thus far? And what challenges have you already overcome?

    Shawn: The biggest challenge I’ve already overcome is simply putting myself out there and going for it. I’ve let fear hold me back many times in life and I’m at the point where I refuse to give in to that fright. I’d rather fail miserably than not attempt it at all. I know it may sound cliché but it’s true. I feel that life is about taking chances, and following what you believe to be right for you. I’ve had this idea repeating in my head for far too long to simply keep trying to quell this desire and not even attempt my dream.

    Katie: It costs money to start a business. It’s scary to put your heart and soul and pocket book  into something that may or may not succeed. Like many folks today, money is a challenge. For me personally, my biggest challenge would be self doubt and fear. For once in my life I am doing something that I really want to do and it will require me to step outside of my comfort zone and really put myself out there. Working for myself and being 100 % responsible for every aspect of my part in the business is a very exciting and awesome venture, but definitely new territory for me.

    You have currently raised over $3,000 dollars. Did you expect to raise that much in one month?

    Shawn: I am truly humbled and delighted about our efforts thus far. Of course, part of me wishes we were a lot closer to our goal, but I’m thankful for every dollar raised. I’ve been through so many emotional stages since this project has begun. I really can’t say thank you enough to everyone who has donated money, shared our Facebook & Twitter posts, helped with technical aspects, and had kind words to say overall. This is truly a grassroots effort and we could not succeed without the support of the community.

    Katie: I honestly had no idea what to expect. I am so incredibly happy and grateful for all the kind folks who have supported us and believe in our vision. It’s pretty amazing really.

    I can picture your team in your truck, on a beautiful spring day, with customers whom want PB & J for themselves as well as a Peanut Butter dog biscuit for their canine friend. How do you imagine Squirrely’s when you think about your future as a business?

    Shawn: I would like to always have the truck available for events, parties, etc. but I know for a fact that I don’t want to only do that for the rest of my life. My long-term goal would be to have an established location in the near future, where we can do a little bit more than we can do on a truck. I envision a bakery/café type atmosphere with a dog friendly patio, of course. I want to have our small batch nut butters and jams available for purchase in stores across the local area, eventually expanding across the Nation. Having a brick & mortar space would give us dedicated shelf space for our products as well as giving us the opportunity to offer even more delicious menu items. Katie has a lot more baking experience than I do and I’d like to see what she comes up with in a bigger space.

    Katie: I imagine so many things! I definitely see customers ordering all sorts of yummy nut butter sandwiches and treats. In my work in the food industry in the past, I always loved getting to know all my regulars. I want Squirrely’s to be a laid back, friendly and homey type of establishment.  I want our customers to know that they will always be getting food prepared with love and healthy intentions. It would be super awesome to have our nut butters, baked goods and jams sold in other establishments at some point in our future too!

    My life so far has always been changing as far as future predictions go. If you would have asked me 5 years ago if I’d be starting a food truck with a guy named Shawn, I would have thought you were mistaking me for someone else. I do know that Squirrely’s has a future and I believe in it. I can’t wait to see what happens!

    What is your favorite item on the menu?

    Shawn: I’m a big almond butter fan, and I have to admit that I make a pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good almond butter with vanilla, maple syrup, & Himalayan pink salt that would make Larry David come back for more. Something I have almost every day though is a smoothie I make that consists of: banana, blueberry, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, chocolate whey protein concentrate, ground flax seed, and blended with almond milk. We want to have fun with our menu. It will evolve as necessary and we promise to keep it pushin’.

    Katie: Hmmm…that’s a tough one. They really are all so delicious, but I have to honor the King. My daughter was going to be an Elvis if she was a boy! Peanut butter, banana and honey for sure.

    How can readers and the community help in the success of Squirrelys?

    Shawn: The community and everyone reading this can help by simply spreading the word of our vision, both in person and online. If you have an event you think we would be a good fit for, please contact us. We love hearing from friends and strangers alike. Oh, and please donate before our fundraising campaign ends on February 6th.  Every little bit helps!

    Katie: Tell your friends and family about us! We are just getting started and need all the support we can get. Our indiegogo campaign is going for another 17 days and any contribution would be amazing! I think with any new concept, patience is needed. We are still trying to figure out all the odds and ends of this and ask that our supporters stick around to see how fantastic Squirrely’s is going to be!!

    For more details on their campaign, visit their Indiegogo page and for more information on Squirrely’s and to keep up with their progess, check out their Facebook.

    Photos courtesy of Squirrely's Facebook.

    Alexis Messmer's picture

    About Alexis Messmer

    2015 University of Louisville graduate. All things social media, marketing, writing, sneakers, photography, music, and a whole lot of coffee.

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