Oak Parker Renee Estese-Long has been working on her Mojo Express food truck for over six years. Last July, she just showed up at the Oak Park Farmers’ Market and starting serving.
Though she has her sanitation certification, she’s currently selling only Danishes, cocoa, soda, lemonade tea and, of course, coffee. Her coffee is fair trade from Uganda, which means a portion of sales go back to farmers.
Estese-Long wants to offer vegan products in the future. “I’m going to be a very healthy bus,” she told me, “I’m not going to be selling crap.”
I asked Estese-Long if there were any restrictions on her movements (as I’m guessing Starbucks would prefer she not park in front of their store), but she assured he that “I can go anywhere. I have a bus.”
Mojo Express, according to Estese-Long, is the only licensed mobile vendor in Oak Park. She plans to expand operations into River Forest, Forest Park, and even parts of Chicago (which may be tricky as Chicago has some fairly restrictive rules regarding food trucks).
For the past two years, food trucks have been a hot topic in Chicago, with some brick-and-mortar restaurants expanding into mobile operations to extend their brand and introduce more people to their food (frequently at prices lower than would be expected in their regular restaurants).
One big difference between Chicago food trucks and those that may open in Oak Park is that many in the Chicago fleet seem focused on serving either lunch or the late night bar crowd who may crave a little something before heading home. Oak Park may not have the downtown population to support several food trucks during lunch time, and we definitely don’t have enough of a late night bar crowd.
Aside from setting up by the Oak Park Farmers’ Market, Estese-Long’s renovated Pace vehicle is frequently found at the Oak Park Public Library, and she plans to show up at games and other public events during the fall season.
As with most mobile food vendors, you can follow Mojo Express on Twitter @mjexpress14.