Milk Cult: Unplugged (Part 1)
Posted: December 19, 2013, 12:31 PM EDT
Clovest recently interviewed us about our background in starting Milk Cult, how we moved to Union Kitchen, and finally how we came to opening the Sanctuary.
Read part one of the interview below and share it with your friends and family to help us get our loan! We've got 2 days and $1500 left to go!
Milk Cult: Unplugged (Part 1)
By: Karan Jain on December 13, 2013
Pat and Ed after a long day selling tacos out of a food truck at Union Kitchen– one of the many hustles undertaken by the formidable Milk Cult.
Clovest: How did you guys get started in the food industry? What were your backgrounds before the Milk Cult?
PG: Ed and I both have extremely into food, the culinary world, and all that stuff. Its one of those things we bonded over and continuously bond over. Him and I both did a lot of private catering events growing up and I've always had the pipe dream of us both working in food. My uncles have a pretty successful bar/restaurant Brooklyn and I’ve just respected the hell out of them for that and how well it went for them. I just saw that they were doing what they wanted to, they were doing it well, and they were being recognized for it. And they were working their asses off, but they're living the dream.
I had a bunch of random jobs, never any serious ones in the food industry. I eventually found myself working at Takorean– one of pioneers of the DC food truck scene. I remember when I was working for Mike, the owner of Takorean, I made it more than a job– I decided to soak up as much as I could from him because he had a very successful food business in the same kind of framework that I would like to have. He does it very well and very intentionally– and he wants to make good food but he's not so romantic about it. He’s making high quality food, but also runs a very successful business.
So I soaked up as much as I could and then that job ended. During that time, Ed was in Indonesia teaching English. So when he came back from Indonesia, I wasn't working at Takorean anymore and we both kind of were like, “What are we doing?” And while he was away, he would send me photos of motorcycles rigged into food carts and say like, “Look how crazy this shit is”, and I'd say "That's awesome!". So when he got back we were both pipe dreaming about "What if we did something like that?"
Started from the bottom– or a motorcycle. Pipe dreams (pun intended) have created some of DC's best handmade ice cream sandwiches.
Clovest: Right the never-ending question of, “What are we doing with our lives?” So, ice cream sandwiches? Was that the obvious answer?
PG: Well, Ed has a reputation amongst our friends as the guy who makes really good ice cream. He got pretty much the best home model ice cream maker a long time ago and since the day he got it, he's been making crazy awesome ice creams– he made a fried chicken ice cream one time, which was disgusting and he'd trick people into eating it, but then he'd also make up for it by making like the best blackberry ice cream you've had in your life. So when we got talking to what would we do (food wise), Ed was like "Ice cream", and I was like "Yes, but...what could we add that would make it a bit more interesting?" and we both were like "ICE CREAM SANDWICHES!".
Really like from there we just both got so excited about the idea– the idea about a motorcycle, a food truck, a store, none of that existed. It was just about making ice cream sandwiches interesting and different, but still accessible.
So we talked about it a bit more seriously and Ed drafted up a business plan, which was really helpful because it made us both realize that this could actually happen. Then the idea came one day of getting an old cafe-racer style motorcycle with a sidecar and turning the sidecar into a freezer and selling ice cream sandwiches out of it. And Ed, who has a lot more experience driving motorcycles, was like "That'd be so cool, but logistically it can't be done." But an hour later, he called me back and said, "Let's do it."
Clovest: So you got started on the motorcycle?
PG: Actually, the motorcycle came much later– we started with the product first. I was reading the [Washington] City Paper and I read the article about Union Kitchen and I thought, this looks perfect. So we visited Union Kitchen and from the moment we were there and explained to them everything we wanted to do, they were very excited to have us join. They were so great– they really could not have been any more helpful with kind of holding our hands through the whole process of getting our business off the ground.
Clovest: How much did the growth for your business come out of the opportunities provided to you by Union Kitchen?
PG: Just about everything. Whether it was other food businesses, whether it was Cullen or Jonas, or just people in the Kitchen who heard about things that were going on. We did a couple of things on our own and our first couple of events were disasters, but you know, good disasters! Very important lessons learned.
As we continued to deliver, Union Kitchen started to develop a little more trust in our product. From there, they would help promote us to some marquee events around town. And it all came with the hope that one day we could be one of the bigger success stories.
Watch out for Part 2 of this exclusive interview with Patrick Griffith, owner of Milk Cult, and Jonas Singer, owner of Union Kitchen.