Last Updated: 01 April 2015
El Taco Truck – street food with love
Food trucks have in a short time become a common feature in the streets of Stockholm. Nikola Adamovic and Niklas Bolle at El Taco Truck were among the pioneers – and their genuine concept and personal commitment has given them an ever-increasing customer base.
“Most important is the grub,” says Nikola. “The base is barbecue and texmex, but we can call it an American fusion of food from all possible cultures.” It just has to be a little rock’n’roll, practical and simple.
Both Nikola and Niklas have a sound experience from the restaurant scene in Stockholm – and they’ve also both lived for periods in USA, where Mexican street food was part of everyday life. That’s the two main ingredients in their success story.
“We started small-scale,” Niklas says. “We had an oil drum made into a grill and we made food for private parties, weddings and bachelor parties. We gradually noticed how much our food was appreciated and we started getting bookings for large corporate events.”
Soon they understood that they were ready to take the step toward a genuine food truck. This led to a great deal of to and fro between different officials, who wouldn’t take the responsibility of issuing a permit.
“But we realized that we weren’t breaking any concrete rules. ‘OK, let’s get going,’ we said. We found an old van from 1967 and totally rebuilt it to work as a mobile kitchen. This was about five years ago,” says Nikola.
Pulled pork pioneers
With this venture, Nikola and Niklas were probably first in Sweden with a food truck in the style of the American concept. At the same time they also started the pulled pork trend.
“It was really interesting. Very few things in the world of food get such a breakthrough,” says Nikola. “It shows that you can actually find something new.” Perhaps it’s like tacos and Thai food – things suddenly appear that are just what people have been waiting for.
Food trucks grew into a big thing in the media, and suddenly everyone wanted to buy food on the street. Local politicians realized it was something they could get credit for by supporting – and this led to Stockholm City finally issuing licenses to 10–12 food trucks.
Today, El Taco Truck has two vehicles, one big and one small, and one waiting to be ready. There is also a permanent food truck standing inside a shopping mall.
Getting it to work all year
Right now we’re at El Taco Truck HQ, which their newly opened lunch restaurant in Stockholm is called. It’s lunch hour, and as they’re one man short in the kitchen today, Niklas keeps getting up from our table to serve food.
The restaurant is, together with the almost just as new ‘tacqueria’ in the City, one way of operating all-year-round. For their customers, it’s not very attractive to buy and eat food on the street during the winter.
“We have refined our way of making food and serving it so that customers recognize themselves irrespective of whether they visit the trucks or our restaurants,” says Nikola. “We’ve actually not changed the menu since we started, it should be simple but really good. And no one tires of this food.”
The big challenge for Niklas and Nikola is that they do everything themselves. Now they have around twenty employees, but they are both buying the food, cooking the food, making sure everything is going well, going out with the truck serving and doing the dishes. In addition to this you could add economy, repairs on the cars and janitor duties.
Nikola points to a wall he tiled just outside the room we’re sitting in. “One day you’re a chef, next day you’re a handyman, third day something else. Today we started at 7 by handing out flyers in the metro.”
“We don’t have any large investors behind us like many others,” says Niklas. This means we can do what we want, but with a staff of twenty comes also a great responsibility. Our ambition however is very high, we want to make our mark,” he concludes.