When we last left Jen Mindell, she was facing the tough decision to close Cafe Gutenberg, and we were treated to her fresh perspective on running a restaurant in Shockoe Bottom. It was full of lessons for reactionaries in the media and the food world alike.
Since moving on from that restaurant, Jen’s been hearing from fans of her tofu banh mi and spicy mock-duck “rooster” sandwich. Although brunch was always Gutenberg’s biggest shift of the week, it’s those vegan creations that seem to inspire folks to follow her around like puppy dogs. So, now Jen’s bringing those vegan treats back in mobile form, and it’s called the Rooster Cart. But, to start this new biz, she needs some seed money for expensive equipment and various down payments. That’s where you come in.
There’s a list of things that Jen needs to get her cart rolling, and you’ll find those on the Rooster Cart Kickstarter page (along with a bunch of exciting menu items). But there are also intangible challenges and barriers in Jen’s path. Your donation will translate into moral support that can make all the difference when battling bureaucracies, working to balance business and community interests, and navigating a new terrain to find her niche.
In short, it’s hard out there for a cart. Just ask Nate or Patrick at BokaTruck, two of Jen’s closest allies (and previous employers). Sure, every business starts as an underdog (under-roos..ter?). But when your food and your concept has to make inroads from outside the mainstream, you need backers. Heavies. Cheerleaders. And generous investors. Each will get their name printed on the cart, by the way (or tattood on Jen or her brother Luke, depending on how much you donate).
THIS IS WHERE you step up to pitch in. But don’t doddle. The Kickstarter has to make it to $6,000 by January 18th.
ps: If you can’t give money, maybe you know people who can. Share the kickstarter on your blog, Facebook page, tweet it, etc.
UPDATE: I’ve been trying to figure out how much I’m going to give to the Kickstarter. Birthday banh mis would make sense. A recipe card, almost essential for anyone excited about home cookin and Richmond’s indy food scene. But, what’s this at the $100 level? Jen’s brother Luke featuring me (or you) in one of his Rooster Cart promoting short films that he’s posting on their Facebook page? Even though I’m camera shy, I know what a thrill this would be. Luke is obsessed with the art of motion pictures, be they big screen, TV, or web-based. Talk to him about The Wire, Miranda July, Dead Wood, or the ridiculousness that Dexter has become. Hopefully, Luke wi’ll wind up with a movie review and analysis type show and be the next Roger Ebert (one of my all-time idols) or Spike Jonze (everybody else’s), but in the meantime, you really should seize this opportunity to be in one of his films, support his effort to throw in on this cart thing with his sister, and take part in a somewhat random act of generosity. Here’s a taste: