In celebration of what we thought was a wonderful end to ONE phase of our business, Team Manila Machine took some much-needed time off to spend with our loved ones. Nastassia went to Disneyland with her boyfriend. And I spent some time in Santa Barbara with my wife while our 19-month old son was with his grandparents.
The past 10 months have been grueling for both Nastassia and I. Our home relationships were often strained while we tirelessly worked on a project we passionately believed in. Luckily for us, we both had the support and understanding of our loved ones. Unfortunately though, everyone else in the world is not as supportive and understanding. And now we are ready to move onto the next phase of our business.
After barely returning home from our respective mini-vacations, we were greeted by an inbox full of emails in regards to a story written by Zach Brooks of Midtown Lunch. The emails we received were from concerned fans, as well as concerned clients. All of these concerns stemmed from Mr. Brooks’ “article” in which he implies that we The Manila Machine somehow lied about our business and our business plans. Although he tries to soften his implications with a few complimentary words about our food, the fact of the matter is that the damage had already been done.
Although the “article” in question was both surprising and hurtful to us, we wanted to take the time to thoughtfully respond to it. Afterall, we spent a year of our lives working hard to build a brand we were proud of, and we want to make it clear that The Manila Machine was a labor of love. We are passionate about our Filipino heritage and we want nothing more than to CONTINUE to share Filipino cuisine with the hungry masses. Our truck may no longer be roaming the streets, but the Manila Machine is still fully functioning. We are simply focusing on private catering.
Mr. Brooks writes:
“[The Manila Machine implies] that the truck is closing because they’ve achieved all their goals- one of which was to make it to the 6 month mark. Sorry, but I call bullshit. And if they are completely satisfied with what they “accomplished”, they never should have opened a food truck in the first place and teased us with their delicious Filipino treats- only to pull them out from under from us once the very first “possibilities beyond the realm of food trucking” presented themselves.”
OK, we’re not going to argue about what our goals were and were not. We stated our goals long before our previous blog post, so you can choose to believe what you want. But to say we shouldn’t have opened our truck in the first place if we were only going to move on to better things is ridiculous. Really? We can’t explore other opportunities? Can we likewise assume then that you will forever write for Midtown Lunch? We call bullshit.
He goes on to write:
“…I think it is more likely that Manila Machine is closing because they weren’t making very much money, and running a food truck is a ton of work and a huge pain in the ass. And their letter really bothers me because nobody ever wants to talk about this.”
Firstly, who is anyone to say that we “weren’t making much money”? How would anyone other than Team Manila Machine be privy to this knowledge? And regardless of how much or how little anyone thinks we made, we can assure you that we are in a much better place now than when we first started The Manila Machine. Are we millionaires? Of course not, but we didn’t start The Manila Machine for the money. I’ve been writing about and promoting Filipino cuisine and culture for over four years now, and representing our culture is something that is very very important to both me and Nastassia. Is it really so hard to believe that we started The Manila Machine because we first and foremost wanted to create awareness for our cuisine, rather than wanting to create cash flow? We have nothing but integrity and passion for the brand we have created.
We also can’t control how the media chooses to portray food trucks, but we can tell you that we ourselves have never played “into the stereotype of the happy owner operator.” In fact, I’ve written a few pieces for Serious Eats in which I tell the less-than-glamorous side of food trucking. This particular story isn’t particularly happy–it’s actually kinda depressing. And how about this piece in which I specifically advise people to NOT start a food truck because it’s a terrible life to live. Nobody wants to talk about the difficulties of food trucking, Mr. Brooks? We’ve been talking about it since day one. And we are not arguing with the lesson you want to share about the food trucking industry we just do not understand why we had to be the focus of your argument.
Now let’s just cut to the really questionable parts of Mr. Brooks’ “article”:
“I don’t actually know the real reason Manila Machine is closing up their truck. They say they will continue to do catering, and that they’re not necessarily going away permanently. But my sense is that that is a cop out, a way to lessen the impact of their closing.”
Hes doesn’t actually know the real reason why The Manila Machine closed, yet that didn’t stop him from making up his own reasons and posting it on the internet and having that misinformation tweeted and retweeted?
He then goes on to say:
“I emailed them and urged them to go public with how difficult their journey has been, because as a very popular food truck run by two influential bloggers Manila Machine had a chance to turn this into a teachable moment. Use their disappointment to warn other would be entrepreneurs about the perils of running a gourmet food truck. I got no reply.”
Hmmm. Let’s take a look at this so-called “urgent” email:
We received the above email 2 DAYS before we made a public announcement about our future plans. We were aware that word had gotten out to a select few people, so we weren’t surprised that it somehow made it to Mr. Brooks. But we wanted to share some good news with our fans and followers on our own terms. Why on earth would we want to disclose private information to anyone else before we were ready? And how is the above email at all urging us to go public with how “difficult our journey has been”? Is it the sad-face emoticon? Is it the extended “boo”? We aren’t sure either.
Despite the false reports and misinformation, Team Manila Machine will continue to be HAPPY for our accomplishments and for our future endeavors. Was it easy getting to where we are now? No. But we never said otherwise. We spent the last year working on creating our brand and running our business a certain way, and we’re not going to let one false story take away from our success. If we were supposed to be dead broke and in shambles after all of this, well, we’re sorry it didn’t happen that way. We are still around just not in truck form.
The truth of the matter is, we did things on our own terms, with integrity, and we decided our own fate. And we’re happy about that.