Carlos Muela '09 opened the SoMa StrEat Food Park three years after graduating from USF, where he studied entrepreneurship.
Carlos Muela '09 was chewing over an idea: If one food truck is
good he thought, then a bunch of trucks with a bunch of different cuisines, all
in one place, must be great.
Boy, was he right. His SoMa StrEat Food Park is booming, hosting 26
trucks and about 1,500 diners every day.
"This business isn't going anywhere but up," says the business and entrepreneurship alum proudly. Since opening last June, sales have jumped 70 percent, and truck
owners who are lucky enough to score a spot at the food park are thrilled; there's
a waitlist 90-trucks strong. Word has spread quickly among tastemakers and
high-profile clientele, too. The Food Network stopped by, and Muela’s food park
has served CEOs Marc Benioff (Salesforce), Jeremy Stoppelman (Yelp), and Max
It’s a win-win-win: Muela profits by renting space to the truck
owners; truck owners no longer have to jostle for scarce parking spaces on city
streets; and customers enjoy mouth-watering diversity because he switches out
the entire lunch bunch for a new set of trucks at night.
After a rough start
The food park draws many more customers than the trucks would draw
individually, and diners love the bar, Bay Area sports-viewing parties, and
musical entertainment Muela has added.
But things don't always start well when you're a visionary
entrepreneur. City officials didn't understand the idea when Muela started
pitching it in 2009. Others were perplexed by the location: the corner of 11th
and Harrison, then a gritty, abandoned U-Haul lot and homeless camp. “It was a
complete eyesore," Muela remembers. "But I loved the location for its
proximity to many different neighborhoods, its visibility and sunny
microclimate." Perhaps the only thing sunnier was Muela's visionary outlook,
and now, his future.
The family business
Muela put himself through college
working at his parents' two restaurants in the Mission District, Picaro and
Esperpento. He currently manages them both, in addition to the food park, but
he doesn't run an actual truck.
"The last thing I need is
another restaurant," Muela says.
by Ed Carpenter | Office of Communications and Marketing »email firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter @usfcanews