The green-red Burger Truck of Ulrich and Mario is parking between greengrocer and meat seller. I visit the two on the organic market in Cologne. The weather today is hazy and grey, but some people are out to have a delicious vegan lunch at “Bunte Burger”. The founders of the mobile restaurant are chatting with guests and colleages from the neighboring stands. The atmosphere is relaxed and familiar. Exactly what Ulrich had wished when he gave up his job: "I was tired of communication over the internet and wanted to work with real people."
Vegan and sustainable
Ulrich was the founder of an internet business and Mario worked as a manager for Deutz AG. Both have impressive CVs but they could not silence the idea that was buzzing around in their minds: Let’s do something completely different. In May 2014 they cooked on the road for the first time. Initially it was difficult to find appropriate stands. “Public places are taboo, some companies and individuals responded with rejection.", says Ulrich. “It took quite a lot of persuading."
Although they fry one burger after another there is never meat on their grill. Everything is vegan and organic, everything as sustainable as possible. A philosophy that both live and cook now. With this concept they found a business niche - at least in Cologne. The vegan offer is generally not large and they are currently the only ones on the mobile market. But that does not mean that the customers knocked their doors down right from the start. "Many people are still very sceptical when it comes to vegan products.", says Ulrich.
To promote organic products, they first had to be certified. "We wanted more than the EU-label for organic food. It is important for us to be certified by private organizations, such as “Bioland”, because their criteria are more severe." That means that all delivery notes and invoices have to be collected and filed away neatly to be presentable in case of an unannounced inspection.
From truck to restaurant
The concept fits to the new generation of mobile catering. The phenomenon food truck is the further development from the ordinary taco truck to higher quality street food. According to a recent enumeration of a german street food blog there are nearly 80 mobile restaurants in Germany - and this figure is increasing.
The popularity of the food trucks may arise by the lower financial risk than by investing in a restaurant. One reason for Ulrich and Mario to start with a truck and dip a toe in the water. By now they are ready for more: They want to open the first pure organic vegan burger restaurant in Germany with the help of crowdfunding. The money will primarily go in a sustainable interior: a ground floor made of natural caoutchouc, lamps made of recycled disposable glasses, all materials from the region if possible. Obviously an expensive project: The fry cooks want to collect at least 45,000 euros. By now they gathered "only" 32,000 euros, deadline is on the 16th of March.
And to oppose the prejudice of “grain feed” of vegan food: the colourful burgers are really delicious - even for meat eaters.