Food truck Flam'n Moes is gaining a reputation in Rukuhia for delivering the goods. Tracy Green tells Kashka Tunstall about her high-flying clientele and business taking off.
Just around the corner from the Hamilton airport, tucked in neatly by industrial warehouses and the CTC Aviation flight school, the Flam'n Moes food truck is serving the tail end of the mid-morning rush.
Owner-operator Tracy Green greets her customers with a smile, serves up their orders quickly and farewells a trio of foreign trainee pilots happily munching on her most popular menu item - the brekkie wrap.
Flam'n Moes is Green's latest venture. The Rukuhia local had been in the food industry for 22 years before moving into her mobile eatery parked in Boyd Rd.
She first set up in a coffee van, serving simple foods, in July last year after talking to CTC about opportunities, and business quickly flourished.
Within four months business had doubled and Green and husband Steve decided there was enough of a market in the area to take the venture seriously.
"It was a bit of a gamble, I knew I couldn't do it alone after a while," she says.
"It got too busy and I started to pull my hair out thinking I can't do this all by myself, the hours were getting too long and I'm getting too old.
"So we started gentle, then I saw what the neighbourhood had to offer with the mobile competition that was around and I thought I can do this and I can do it a lot better." Green has never looked back.
She's taken on another staff member and upgraded to a bigger food truck to deal with demand.
Classic car enthusiasts, the Greens named the truck after an episode of The Simpsons purely so they could justify incorporating flames on the body design. At least 60 customers call in at Flam'n Moes every day, from businessmen to warehouse workers, and Green is particularly fond of the young international pilots.
"It's actually really exciting to see some of the changes in the students," she says.
"Sometimes they come hardly speaking any English and then they improve and it's exciting to see . . . I've probably got about 10 sons now, I could claim some of these boys are mine."
And she's popular among the students, too, with her food gaining an international following.
Pilot intakes from the United Kingdom have told Green that the brekkie wrap, a toasted combination of chicken, bacon, egg, barbecue sauce and mayo, was recommended as a must-have from students who had returned home.
"It's just like one big family," she says of the area.
"The relationships are massive out here and every day is so different. There's always something new happening, something to talk about."
Her goal in the first 12 months in Boyd Rd is to get the basic upgrades sorted. Money has been invested in upgrading the power and making the surrounding area a little more comfortable.
"The money's going straight back into the van itself and we're just getting to the point this year that we can do extra renovations," Green says.
"The way we look at it, all our customers pay our way in every business we have.
"We're firm believers . . . [in] a smiley face and everyone is treated like royalty as much as we possibly can, even when we are busy.
"We're doing our best to make it pleasurable for everybody, including ourselves."
In the next few weeks Green will start a $3500 renovation, building a wooden deck in front of the truck as well as sides and a roof to make the area more permanent.
But she says she's happy in the mobile unit and isn't looking at going back to four solid walls.
"I don't think we would go into a building if we can avoid it. It just becomes real commercial whereas here we have so much fun.
"Every day is fun at work. We don't get into this grumpiness at work. We spend so much time here so we've got to be happy and our customers help us do that."