Ninja Shaved Ice – Food Truck

Me and my wife had come down to southern California to visit with her parents and sisters.  On one of those days, we went to get shaved ice.  Shaved Ice seems pretty generic right? Like a snow cone, or maybe like Hawaiian Shaved Ice that has a bit of ice cream at the bottom.  To my surprise, taiwanese shaved ice is nothing like those.  NOTHING LIKE THEM!

Taiwanese shaved ice is looks like you’re making extremely thin pasta, except that pasta noodle is really a flavored ice.  Top it with fruit, crazy jelly/bean toppings, and condensed milk and you have this magical creation.

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The whole Food Truck scene was really hot at this point, and we were in the mecca living in San Francisco (Walnut Creek). So my brain started churning:  How much does a machine to make this cost? how much can we get a truck for? how much to renovate the truck? how much are licenses? how much could we charge per shaved ice?

So while sitting in a Los Angeles shaved ice shop, I’m craigslisting looking for food trucks, ice cream trucks, and any other cool big truck I could convert. I found a mail truck that they had turned into an ice cream truck that was about $5k. It was ugly, but I saw the vision.

When I got back to the Bay Area me and my brother inlaw went to go check it out.  Oh I forgot, at this point we had told the idea to our sister/bro inlaws that live in the Bay Area as well, and they decided to go into the business with us as well.  So anyway, we roll into the ghetto to take a look at this truck.  And when I say ghetto…I mean holy crap ghetto.  We get out of the car to cross the street to look at the truck, a car rolls up to me (2 dudes inside) stop the car in front of me, and just stare me down.  They literally just sat there for like 15 seconds…and I just walked off and went around them.  Then they burned off and never came back.  Anyway that was pointless info, but both me and my brother thought I was about to get shot up.

So this is the truck we went to look at:

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Me and Kevin (bro-inlaw) are pretty creative guys.  He’s big into building things and renovations & I’m good on the graphics and crazy ideas.  So we had some grand plans to fix this bad boy up.  Those dreams ended up costing way more and taking way more time that we both thought.  But after a summer of renovations in his driveway this is what Ninja Shaved Ice’s truck looked like:

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The inside got the real deal treatment as well.  Here’s the nasty grease fest that it was before:

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So as you can see from the photo above, this truck was disgusting.  We had to totally strip this thing down to the bare walls.  We built a brand new inner structure, rewired the whole truck safer than a house, put in some extreme electrical convertors, shelving, fridge & topping station, and a sink with a tankless hot water heater. Oh and we put a whole new window in the side of the truck.  It was a massive project.

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So WHAT happen?

Well what happen was that we all had full time jobs, we both had a new baby & another on the way, and no time to work the truck.  We tried hiring a friend, but he went home for the holidays for a month, and the truck just sat there.  So rather than continuing to lose money, we decided to put the now finished truck up for sale.

What did I LEARN?

I learned that anything dealing with food, there is tons of red tape.  And customizing is probably the worst idea for “any business”. If we would have just got a truck that was ready to go, we would have saved months of rebuilt time, and would have had more time to sell product in the truck.

Start with something simple that can just get the job done.



8 Comments

  1. Felix Tejeda

    Is the truck still for sale? If so, how much are you looking for?

  2. larry

    thank you for that inight i want to open a shaved ice truck in my area. Then if it goes well maybe a shop. Thanks again.

  3. Jim Byrne

    Ray, I have a 12′ snowie kiosk that we do fairs and other events.
    I just bought a “Short School Bus” in really good shape, and a cold plate freezer. Going to start converting it soon.
    Would you mind, if I have any questions I could contact you for your advice?
    Thanks,
    Jim

  4. Jim Byrne

    By the way, you did an awesome job!

  5. Ray Hernandez

    Felix. Sold the truck awhile back

    Jim. A short bus would be a really cool food truck. I’m always around for any advice.

  6. Casey

    We just finished gutting and renovating an old handicap bus into a rockin’ food truck but are stuck at plumbing! I’m curious what type of tankless water heater you used… I don’t see a vent in the photo and that’s ideally what we’d like to do too! I’d hate to cut into the beautiful side of this baby. Thanks!

  7. jim

    Casey, our hot water is a Bosch US3.

  8. Dennis Harris

    What ice machine did you use for Taiwanese ice.


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