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Exploring Life & Business with Phillip Newman and Amanda Morris of The Tree Hugger Truck

Today we’d like to introduce you to Phillip Newman and Amanda Morris.

Hi Phillip and Amanda, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
Our names are Mandy Morris and Phillip Newman and we’re a husband and wife team and the owners of The Tree Hugger Truck, a vegan food truck in Kansas City, MO. We have been in the food truck business for six years. We began our journey in Los Angeles opening a Hawaiian-style shave ice truck through the Tropical Sno brand. We had three great seasons slinging shave ice amongst the palm trees in LA at food truck events, movie studios, birthday parties, work events, etc. We decided that we wanted to settle down and buy a house so it was time to move back to our hometown of Kansas City, but not time to say goodbye to the shaved ice truck! We hitched that sucker up and drove it the 31 hours back to Kansas City. Don’t worry, we only had to replace one tire and ran out of gas only once. Back in KC, we had another two good seasons before 2020 hit. All of our regular events were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We knew we needed a change. We decided to sell the shave ice truck and use the money to upgrade to a new fully-fledged food truck. But what to sell? Well, that was obvious. We’d been vegan for three years and had become quite good at creating new vegan recipes for friends and family. Let’s put our skills to the test and see if a vegan food truck could take off! That’s when The Tree Hugger Truck was born! We opened our truck in August 2020 outside of The Black Box Theatre in the West Bottoms. We’ve now been there for almost a year and continue to grow. We love getting to introduce people to our delicious vegan cuisine and cannot wait to see what the future holds!

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely been a struggle for everyone. Luckily, we created a business for ourselves with plenty of outdoor, spaced out seating, curbside pickup options, and agreements with delivery services (DoorDash, Postmates, Uber Eats, etc.). These options made our food truck an attractive option to those looking to go out but not wanting to put themselves at risk of infection. Another issue was the economy. Unemployment was higher than ever so spending money on going out was not something people were willing to do. Another big struggle was the Winter season. We knew that if we had closed during the winter months, we would have stopped our momentum. We had to stay open. We did what we had to do. Bundled up in layers and hunkered down. Now with the CDC regulations lifting, people getting back to work, and the sun coming out, we’re busier than ever!

We’ve been impressed with The Tree Hugger Truck, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
We’re a vegan food truck. We know that vegan food can have a reputation for being healthy and flavorless. We set out to squelch that reputation. We make food truck street food. Nachos. Tacos. Sandwiches. Burgers. We’ve set out to prove to people that being vegan doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice flavor or cheat days. One of our top sellers is our Loaded Tater Tots. Bed of tater tots topped with housemade “nacho cheez,” bac’n bits, jalapenos, scallions, and our housemade cashew sour cream. In the colder months, you can get our signature chili on top to make it that much more decadent! We call ourselves The Tree Hugger Truck because we like to create an inclusive environment. Veganism can be intimidating for some people, so we wanted to show that we poke fun at ourselves. We’re just a bunch of tree huggers! 🙂

So maybe we end on discussing what matters most to you and why?
Above all else, we believe in having compassion for all living things. We believe that every soul deserves a chance. We have committed our lives to putting our money where our mouth is (literally) and proving to our friends and loved ones that you can live a happy, healthy life without consuming animal products. We want to lead by example and inspire those considering the switch to a vegan lifestyle.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Seth Jones Phil Licata Zach Faust

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