Posted: Mon 25th Apr 2022
Monaghan based business owner Seány McCleary tells Enterprise Nation about setting up his food truck empire.
And from getting involved in drone food delivery to future proofing the business.
A six-month stint of bartending in New York with his partner Nikita, turned into a five-year journey through America, New Zealand, South America, Australia and the Caribbean.
During his time working in kitchens in Australia where he was developing dishes and creating menus in Melbourne, Seány got involved in the gourmet food truck industry.
Bringing it home
As their trip was nearing its end, the couple got to thinking about what they would do when they returned to Ireland. Food trucks seemed like the obvious choice, it was 2017, better to be ahead of the curve, so they brought back their experience.
“On the way home to Ireland, we spent time in South America again, just kind of learning, seeing all the different street food cultures and putting all their pieces together. We had no idea how to set up a business because we had no clue what we were doing ourselves,” says Seány.
A lot of food, sweat and trails later and Blasta Street Kitchen was born in February 2017 with just a starting fund of €600 to get them to a farmers market.
“We now have three Blasta Street Kitchen operations. We have one covering our home region of Monaghan, there is one permanently in Balbriggan in Dublin, which does only drone delivery, and we have a third unit which is used for weddings and corporate events,” he says.
After learning what they went through setting up their own food truck business in Ireland, the pair decided to make a business out of sharing that knowledge.
“Two and a half years ago, I set up Streat School. It was the idea of ‘franchising’, but not franchising my own brand, so setting up a ‘business in a box’ for other people,” he explains.
“We do workshops, one on one, with street food enthusiasts or start-ups. We tease out the ideas they have and the foods that are passionate about, and then teach them how to turn it into a feasible street food business,” he continues.
“We cover the branding and the design and connect them with our growing network. Once they come to the street food community, it's more than just selling them a trailer and equipment, it’s selling them the know-how and the connections too.”
Originally Seány imported his food truck from China, but he has worked over the years to manufacture a solution here in Ireland to sell through Streat School.
There are many food trucks, in a range of designs taking to the nation’s roads and festivals but Seány believes his concept allows for a light weight, ‘tow by all’ solution, using fiberglass.
“Recently we got a nice bit of investment to start manufacturing these from start to finish here,” he says.
“Fiberglass is so important to this whole operation,” he continues. “Our food trucks are 580kg, not far off a third of the weight of a horse box.”
“Now we are building them from start to finish. This means we can offer a set price, we are not reliant on the fluctuating price of shipping, and we are keeping our carbon footprint as neutral as possible,” he explains. “We can also offer a longer warranty.”
Blasta Street Kitchen is also currently involved in a done delivery pilot operating in Balbriggan, Co. Dublin. Manna drones are delivering food from Blasta Street Food to customers within a 3km radius.
“We’ve got up to close to 70 deliveries a day,” he says.
So, if you are in the area and fancy a taco via drone, you can find out how to make that happen here.
One thing that Seány has found when looking for investment throughout his street food businesses is that some investors have suggested that food trucks are a fad.
To prove that his business is a versatile model, in the last year he has set up another arm to his offering ‘Pods to Go’.
“We use the same pods are we are manufacturing for the coffee and the food, but we lease them out to corporates. Things in stores are cancelled for 2022 so we use the pods and brand them for whoever wants to use them,” he says.
A success story
Blasta Street Kitchens in indeed a success story. The business was started with a €300 BBQ and €300 of groceries, it started off at a local farmers market and has now, five years later, growing into so much more.