How Good Spirits Helped D.C.’s First Women-Owned Distillery Risk it All
Meet the women behind D.C.'s first women-owned distillery that is on a mission to build the community.
Ten years ago they barely existed. Now, food trucks are an enormous industry bringing in $2.7 billion in sales, according to the “Food Truck Nation” an annual study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. In honor of the report, and the brave and bold purveyors of flavor bringing their tasty food to the streets every day, we’ll be highlighting five innovative, cool and above all delicious Food Trucks across the country, living their entrepreneurial dreams.
Next up, Washington D.C.’s Peruvian Brothers, powered by a sibling duo who immigrated to the U.S. in 1997, and now run one of the area’s tastiest and most recognizable Food Truck brands. They’ve modeled their flavorful cuisine on family recipes passed down from generation to generation, and the region has taken notice, allowing them to grow to three trucks and putting them in the planning stages of opening up their own brick and mortar institution. Take a look at what they have to say:
Location: Washington D.C.
Operated by: Giuseppe and Mario Lanzone
How did you come up with the name of your food truck?
We are two brothers from Peru. It just made sense. Plus, we ran a few names by people like Peru Fresh and a few others I can’t remember, and no one liked them that much. We decided to keep it simple, and s it’s worked out. So here we are!
What does your average day look like?
We start at 8 a.m., picking up the truck from the catering location. in Alexandria, VA. We load it up with all the food we prepared the night before. We are open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. We come back to the base, deep clean all of the food trucks and get ready for the next day. We are finished around 6 p.m. It’s an all-day affair. But it’s worth it.
What inspired you to get in the food truck business?
We always knew we wanted to start something together. For a long time, we had our own things going on. But we always missed the good food we grew up eating in Peru. My brother is a chef and has been cooking his whole life. When the idea came to us, it just made sense. He handled the cuisine and I handle the business and marketing side, and it has worked out great.
How did you finance your start?
We went deep into our savings. It makes you feel sick to your stomach when you are doing it. It makes you want to crap your pants. It’s very stressful. But we believed in ourselves. We are in the process of opening a small brick and mortar shop here in DC next year, and it feels like we are going to crap our pants all over again. But that is the price of seeing our dreams come true.
What’s the craziest thing that has happened to you or your business?
We represented Peru at a Folk like Festival, where we served 35 thousand item in 10 days. Oh, and there was the time we were asked to come to SXSW is Austin. We drove the Food Truck all the way from D.C., served food for a few days, and drove back. It really can be a lot of work. And driving across country in a food truck isn’t anyone’s idea of fun. But it felt great being a part of something big.
Everything is hard in this business. But the hardest thing is not serving food. The hardest thing is creating a great team. We do weddings and concessions stands and a number of other events. You really have to have great people around you if you want to be successful.
Oh, and parking. Permits and parking can make or break you in this business. The sheer number of food trucks have exploded, and suddenly you have to think and strategize about parking every single day. You have to really learn your local laws and advocate for yourself. If you don’t figure it out you could be out of business before you sell anything.
What gets you up in the morning?
Our clients trying Pan Con Chicharron for the first time, and then them turning into familiar faces who now have a favorite sandwich. It’s a special feeling that is hard to replicate from anything else. And every time it happens it feels as good as the last time it happens.
What’s your number one piece of advice for aspiring Food Truck owners?
“Persistence. You have to have persistence because running a company is a lot of work. There’s just no way around that. And you have to treat your employees like you would your own family. You will only go as far as they take you. And working in this business, you will be working closer to them than you know. Plus,