I was never a big breakfast fan growing up. As I got older, my breakfast substitute was often a cold supplier of caffeine on the way to work. That was until I began working with a certain group of people who enjoyed gabbing in the company cafeteria each morning. It’s amazing it took a southern boy so long to discover grits!
Then there were trips to Pensacola with my life partner, Jim, trips which always required stopping at a local diner called the Coffee Cup, with potentially the best biscuits and grits ever. What had I been missing all those years?
Nicole Goodman, owner and operator of the Local Yolk’l food truck since last September, has always been a breakfast fan, not just for the food, but for the common time with family. “For us, breakfast was like – when you’re so busy during the week and everyone’s doing this and doing that – on the weekends I would cook a huge breakfast for the family and we’d invite friends and family over. So it was our way of spending time together. So we thought, these food truck events are similar to that in the sense that they all come together, like hanging out with their families. So I thought, what a nice way to mix the two, bringing together the breakfast that we love with the friends and family that we love.”
I caught up with Local Yolk’l last Friday morning at their usual stop at Dwell Apartments behind the RDV in Maitland. Nicole is there with her father, Marty Goodman. A steady flow of customers approached from all surrounding points as Nicole greeted many by name. She explains that she often sees the same customers each week, and makes a point to ask for a name and remember it. “The biggest joy I get is when we’re at a place and we have repeat customers over and over. You know there’s a couple of people who – if we’re in the downtown area, in a three-mile radius – they always come and they always order the same thing. We have that type of following.”
Learning and using names, she says, is “definitely something that I’ve thought to myself, when I go someplace, how would I like to be treated? So that’s how I want to treat them. Since we’ve been coming here,” she notes of someone she just helped, “he’s usually our last customer each Friday. I’m learning their names, I try to get to know them, try to make a point of asking them their name so that the next time they come I do remember them.”
Nicole laughs when she notes her son, a Winter Park High School student, member of its football team and newly recruited potato peeler for Local Yolk’l, once remarked “We’ll never own a food truck.” But while she was helping with a political campaign last year, she and her husband, who works for Disney, “had gone to food truck events and we thought it was so cool. It was one of those things, we thought, well, what if we did this? And if we did it, we thought, what’s missing? Breakfast, no one’s doing breakfast. We like breakfast for dinner.”
“It’s so big now,” she remarks of the food truck phenomenon. “I remember when we were just getting started, we’d watch that Eat Street show all the time and think, oh my God, that’s so cool.”
Her father, Marty, who’s there with her, renovated the one-time Tennessee fire truck that became the Local Yolk’l food truck, and has since launched his own business doing the same for others. “I took the idea that Nicole had for a food truck, found out what kind of equipment she needed and put the whole thing together for her,” he says.
I ask Marty about the smile that seems to be on Nicole’s face constantly as she deals with customers. “She’s the happiest kid in the world,” he says. Does it have anything to do with what she’s doing now? “Maybe especially, but she’s always been happy, always been a happy person.”
Nicole works the truck constantly, but Local Yolk’l is a family affair. Her husband, who works at Disney, designed the graphics on the truck. “He’s a bus driver,” she said, “but we’d contacted several graphic designers with our vision was for the truck, gave them colors we like, websites and they all kept coming back with things we didn’t like. So he just said, I’m done,” did it himself. Him being a Disney bus driver, I tease her about creativity obviously being dispersed from Disney water fountains.
Local Yolk’l offers certain staples, she explained, “We always have the burrito, the scrambled egg bowl, and the bagel sandwiches, because those are things we sell no matter what. We just recently added a sandwich called The Twisted Elvis, which is French toast with peanut butter, banana, honey and bacon,” noting that last one with a laugh. “That has been a really popular item for us now, so that’ll probably be a staple for us now, too. And our red velvet pancakes is another thing we always have.”
Nicole and her husband both grew up here, attended Winter Park High School, and wanted to use as many local food sources as possible for Local Yolk’l. “We decided that local eggs were a must, so we go pick up our eggs from a farm in Ocoee every week and while it’s a little more expensive, the taste and the quality is something that you cannot replace buying store bought eggs. We also get our bread locally from Olde Hearth Bread Company in Casselberry and our bagels from Bagel King, which I’ve been eating at since I was a little girl.”
Having previously worked in education, she’s still a bit surprised she’s doing what she’s doing. “A year ago if you’d told me I was going to be cooking for other people every day, and that they were going to love it and enjoy, I never would have believed it.”