In the hopeful pursuit of a Times Square food kiosk offering artisan quality hand-held food, Nuchas owner and creator Ariel Barbouth was concerned how to expand his business to reach more people. His customers loved Nuchas’ traditional Argentinian food and Barbouth wanted to extend the Nuchas name and create a brand that would be readily recognized as a provider of high quality food made with innovative flavor combinations.
Following two successful years in business selling items such as both meat-filled and vegetarian empanadas and sweet croissants, his initial idea was to open some retail outlets. However, he eventually realized that a mobile food truck was the most economical way of expanding the business.
“I wanted to prove a concept and so I found the path of least resistance to my goals, and that was a food truck,” Barbouth said.
It was his good luck to attend a Brooklyn Hispanic Chamber of Commerce meeting where he met NYBDC's President and CEO, Pat MacKrell. After talking with Barbouth about his goals, MacKrell encouraged him to submit his business plan for consideration. NYBDC Vice President, Tara Caroll, then got involved.
“As a food lover, I was excited to read Ariel's business plan,” she said. “When I met with him I saw the incredible passion he had for his product and the idea of taking it to the streets of New York City in a brand new, custom built food truck. From the recipes to the packaging, you can see his attention to and love for every detail.”
Caroll connected Barbouth with the Brooklyn Small Business Development Center to get help refining his business plan and adjusting his projections. Once that was done, he applied for a loan package valued at $345,500 to support construction of the custom-made truck, the kitchen equipment housed in the truck that enables it to be a mobile eatery, and marketing and public relations efforts to promote it.
“A food truck is not a common use of proceeds for a small business loan,” said Carroll. “The idea may seem too trendy to a conventional lender, but Ariel showed NYBDC that it was a way to expand his brand, create jobs, and have a little bit of fun while doing it.”
Since the loan was made, Barbouth has grown the business several hundred percent. During the spring, summer and fall when the weather is warmer, he employs about 30 people; during colder months -- when business is slower -- he has about 15 people on staff.
The truck is out now traveling the streets of New York’s five boroughs every day and as a result the Nuchas brand is gaining significant name recognition. The Times Square kiosk, now open, continues to do well, especially with tourists, Barbouth said.
Barbouth considers Caroll to be “an unbelievable resource.” He said, “She has helped us since day one when it was clear she really liked what we were doing. She immediately saw something that had potential and took a chance on us. I still talk to her every month. She makes sure I don’t go in the wrong direction.”
With the success he’s seen with the food truck, Barbouth has even bigger plans for Nuchas, including his original idea for opening some retail outlets and introducing a frozen food line that he would market nationally. Whatever the future holds for Nuchas, Barbouth said NYBDC is certain to be a part of those plans.