Winter weather has proven a little too wild for Christine Clutton’s coffee camper, the Wild Way founder said, revealing an indoor, seasonal home for the mobile coffee shop.
“We are in a warehouse, but operate in a camper still,” she said of the Wild Way Winter Warehouse space at 708 E. 19th St. “We just now offer a place to sit, have WiFi, and relax.”
“It fits our vibe,” Clutton added. “I really didn’t want to go too far away from Midtown because that’s where all my people are and this isn’t that far.”
The 13-foot, retro-tinged Wild Way coffee camper opened in April at 31st Street and Gillham Road, in a parking lot north of El Torreon.
It’s been a challenge to navigate the conflicting worlds of food trucks and coffee, Clutton said.
“Coffee needs consistency. Coffee needs to be the same every time,” she said. “You want your customers to know where to find you. They want their regular [order].”
The food truck industry is totally opposite, she added.
“It’s like, ‘Come find me,’ because they just show up at places you need food,” Clutton said.
The mobile coffee concept was brewed from a desire to start small, not take on debt, avoid needing investors, and planning for sustainable growth, she said.
In her previous home base of Austin,Texas, it’s common for chefs with great talent but little money to start small, Clutton said.
“As we became more entrenched in the KC culture and the coffee shops world here, I just wanted to do something super, hyper local, to use local roasters,” she said. “The coffee I’m using for my espresso and drip is a woman-led business, like myself, and I really wanted to support that kind of business. She focuses on sourcing, and also sources a lot of her coffee from other female-lead businesses. Essentially it’s woman-to-woman-to-woman business.”
Most of the coffee brands used by Wild Way originate from companies in Lawrence, Kansas City and St. Louis, Clutton said.
“You just have to be on your toes. Food truck world: It’s not a joke. It’s not a breeze by any means, but it’s an adventure,” she said. “It’s why we named it the ‘Wild Way.’”
“Any business you start, no matter what it is, is scary,” Clutton said. “The trailer had its own scares, because ‘What if it falls off my truck?’ There’s all those little things, like you don’t want water damage. What if you’re driving in the rain and a bunch of water damage happens?”
The stationary location has proven much more convenient to Clutton and her husband, Jon, she said.
“We used to have to move the trailer everyday, and it would take an hour to set up and about an hour to tear down,” Clutton said. “Now I just open the door, make sure everything’s in order. I save myself a lot of time. It’s amazing.”
Though she hasn’t determined an exact timeline, the coffee camper is expected to return to the road after the weather warms, she said.