Marty’s Vegan Fast Food on the Move
It’s been a couple of months since Marty Krutolow was active on the fundraising front. Marty successfully raised a $2,500 Kiva Zip loan for his vegan fast food business last December. This month I had the opportunity to meet with Marty and his business partner/chef David Silver and see how things were going.
A Dream for Change
The official launch of Marty’s Vegan Fast Food was at the New York City Vegetarian Food Festival only one short year ago. It became a test market/proof of concept for vegan fast food service for both vegans and omnivores. “In my former job as a pilot, I saw so many great vegan restaurants that were empty, and so many medium so-so venues with large lines. I realized I could fill the gap in the foodspace for fast vegan food and do it better,” said Marty.
Marty and David currently sell their food at pop-up markets throughout the New York City area, such as the Brooklyn Pop-up Market, the LIC Holiday Flea market, Brooklyn Night Bazaar, the SEED Market at the Altman Building and the 2015 NYC Vegetarian Food Festival last weekend! Selling items ranging from vegan “Drum Stix” to “mac-n-cheeze” and even Korean BBQ, their food represents their mission of creating delicious food while helping the world. When asked about the best part of his business, Marty stated his pride in their ethical and animal welfare practices. “Every time someone eats a burger, we save an animal.”
The Breath of Fresh Air
Marty’s Kiva Zip loan spurred major growth. The $2,500 purchased a second griddle and a second panini press, successfully managed the cash flow of the operations, and ultimately built out the groundwork for future growth.
“We have become a lot busier and now have the infrastructure in place so when we need it, it is there,” Marty said. “Now we can do stuff every weekend!” That includes running two separate markets at the same time! Marty says the Kiva Zip loan was a “breath of fresh air” for a small business owner set on driving change within his community.
Facing the Challenges
It isn’t always easy. Dealing with the insurance, unemployment, and workers compensation forms are just a few of the problems that pile on to Marty’s desk. He’s also working to line up new markets and develop the menu with Chef David.
In addition, Marty faces the added challenge of running a pop-up store. The pair comes prepared: checklists are in hand and prepackaged boxes ready to load in order to meet the realities of the unique business model.
“It is hard to be an entrepreneur in this country. There are always hurdles you must pass.” - Marty
Despite these obstacles, Marty and David are not looking back. The two are confident they will expand and revolutionize the vegan industry. “We are going to get traction one of these days and we are going to launch and go so far,” Marty said.
Marty aims to expand and develop relations with other markets in the NYC area, spreading his knowledge and expertise in creating tasty vegan food. He also hopes to build a commissary kitchen which can also serve as an incubator for other vegan restaurants and vegan food production companies. He and David have already met with over 25 chefs in the area who have expressed interest in this model and the pair is in discussion with city officials to determine the feasibility of this goal.
As big as his dreams will get, he remembers the small moments as well. Marty shared about a simple interaction at the Brooklyn Night Bazaar. “It was so loud we wore earplugs. I remember we sold our burger to someone who then went over to his friend. Obviously, we couldn’t hear exactly what was said but... He told his friend that it was good and then next thing his friend comes over and buys a burger as well. From our end it is always nice to see non-vegans enjoying our food and the favorable response we have received.”
To back other dreams like Marty's in the U.S. and across the world, check out www.kiva.org/dreams.