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WHY THAR SHALL BE NO MO NAPKINS ON THE TRUCKS!!!

As you all know and are privately weeping about, gas prices are kinda high these days.  So much so, that anything below $4.11 a gallon is pretty much a bargain.

¡BARGAIN!

We’ve been praying for quite a while now that gas prices would go down, but it doesn’t look like it’s gonna go down to $3.50 a gallon anytime soon.  (WHICH IS STILL FRIGGIN EXPENSIVE!!)

Unfortunately, gas is a pretty important cost to factor in when running a food truck.  Especially if you’re traveling from downtown LA to places like Rosemeade, Rowland Heights, Orange and Irvine.  A dozen times a day.

THAT’S A LOTTA GAS.

Up until now, unlike SMART business people!, we’ve been shouldering the cost of the hike in gas prices, assuming like hopeful idiots, that the high rise in gas will come back down to something a lot more reasonable.

…but that doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon.  On top of that, the cost of food has also been rising.  So it’s been a little tight for us lately and has been for a while.

So it’s almost come to a point where we either shut down, or hike our tacos up to $3 and our burritos up to $7 to break even.

I’mma tell you, though.  I don’t want THIS:

...to get in the way of all THAT:



So when it came to crunch time and paying off all them bills, bills, bills we tried taking on for the past few months, it was suggested that we raise our taco prices to at least $2.50 a taco, if not $2.75.

…to which I said, “NEVERRRRRRR!!!”

But we had to cut costs somewhere.  So. It was decided.

EVERYTHING YOU SEE HERE AT THE CHEGO STATION:

…napkins, forks, sporks, plastic bags, aluminum foil, etc.

GONE.

THESE ARE MERE LUXURIES, MY PRETTIES.  LUXURIES!!!!11ONE

We figured that we sell tacos — not utensils, not bags, not napkins.  So we’re gonna continue to sell tacos at $2.10 for as long as we can.

PLUS — maybe it’ll push some of you to be a little more sustainable.  (YOU PEOPLE, WHO TAKE HALF THE NAPKINS PER ORDER, I’M LOOKING AT YOU!!)  I mean, I know our food can be messy, but maybe you don’t need 40 napkins to wipe the sauce from your face.

Also, we’re going to declare a moratorium on our extra fixings for the time being — so no mo oranges, limes and radishes until gas goes down to $3.25 a gallon.

Cutting these little things from our trucks actually make a BIG difference when it comes to the bottom line.

PLEASE, PLEASE REALIZE — WE’RE DOING THIS FOR YOU!!!!111

::shakes customers::

And let’s see if this works!  Let’s see if our immigrant, ketchup-packet-stealing parents had taught us well when it comes to economics.

Of course, if there is a big hoopla about the lack of extra amenities and people really ARE okay with paying $3 a taco, WE WILL BE MORE THAN HAPPY TO COMPLY.  🙂  It’d definitely make it easier on us to run things the way they are.

Anyways, I just want to encourage y’all to be a little more self-sufficient for the time being when you’re getting down to Kogi.

See this dude, here?

RESOURCEFUL.

Now that’s a good Kogi customer.

So feel free to come with your own tupperwares, paper towel rolls, actual towels (for the crunchier folks out there), sporks and grocery bags.  Especially as we’re running low on our final supply of napkins for the good folks of LA and Orange County.

(( H U G ))

WE CAN DO THIS.  And we’ve fought the good fight for too long and too hard to say uncle and jack our prices up to $3 a taco.

Love you!

Love and tacos,
Aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiice

52 Responses to WHY THAR SHALL BE NO MO NAPKINS ON THE TRUCKS!!!

  1. Darkflight says:

    Times are tough, sucks. But I can definitely understand the challenges brought forth by the crazy world we live in. Appreciate keeping the costs reasonable. Keep the food quality up and all the extras, we’ll find a way to improvise.

  2. panda says:

    Send an army in to Burger King, Taco Bell, Mickey D’s, etc. to steal napkins from them!

    /problem solved

  3. Joel says:

    Never really saw the company situation from this angle, but I think I speak for kogi lovers when I say we REALLY REALLY REALLY appreciate the fight to keep prices down. Sure some people can whine about not having the other stuff, but c’mon now! Customers should be fine just by having what keeps up returning to the trucks: THE FOOD! Keep fighting the good fight on prices. I hope gas/food prices go down so we can al continue to have delicious cheap food to enjoy whenever you guys roll by! =]

  4. wendie says:

    brilliant. well done. i love you.

  5. John says:

    A fork and napkin at minimum should be provided. We are all suffering the high cost of gas, not just Kogi. For the price I paid at your truck the other day, I could have been waited on at a resturant that will provide napkins, utensils and service. You guys are good but many will draw the line if prices rise.

  6. Bullwinkle says:

    I think this is a load of crap. How can you serve food without napkins. Especially since your food isn’t exactly grease free. The real street taco trucks haven’t raised their prices in many many years years and still remain to offer napkins , a variety of salsas and condiments. The funny part is they sell their food for a buck to a buck fifty if that even. So don’t try and pass off cutting costs to a customer base that pays twice as much for presumed higher quality food. If you saw the last top chef masters, the chefs were tasked with an appetizer for under a buck and needless to say they created some pretty awesome food. So you’re telling me that the actual cost for per taco is higher than that?

  7. Mang says:

    I would pay $2.75 a taco without hesitation. I do need napkins, though, your food is messy. Oranges limes and radishes, eh, whatever, either way.

  8. Alice Shin says:

    Darkflight — thank you! You’re awesome. You’re why Kogi fans are awesome.

    panda — PLEASE TELL ME THAT YOU’LL BE LEADING THIS ARMY.

    Joel — (( H U G )) I know, me too!

    wendie — it’s always nice to be loved. good to hear you’re not too put off by going napkin-free.

    John — since this a common American mentality, I can understand the faulty logic. We’re cutting the extras so that we don’t have to hike up our prices by a lot. And have been shouldering extra costs the past few years. Something needs to get cut, and lord knows, we don’t want it to be the quality of our food.

    Bullwinkle — what the chefs on that reality show probably doesn’t take into account is labor, insurance, gas, utensils, napkins, tickets, tax, etc. If our cooks worked for free, our utensils, napkins, bags, sporks, foil, gloves, hairnets, tshirts, gas and insurance were for free, I’m sure we could charge less for our tacos. So yes, the actual cost of a taco is higher than that, in a nutshell.

    On an average lonchera, a taco will consist of tortilla + meat. And you are free to add whatever condiments on the side they have. You don’t know where the meat comes from, you don’t know where the tortillas come from.

    Our tacos come on 2 five-inch rounds of handmade tortillas that are lightly griddled and topped with double caramelized, all-natural meats from Rocker Brothers. The meat is marinated in a special marinade that has 20 different ingredients, including pricey items like toasted sesame oil, fresh fruits and maple syrup. The meat is then topped off with our salsa roja, which is made from 22 raw ingredients made from a painstaking layering of flavors, like Korean and Mexican chillies, sesame, ginger, lime, onion, Kikkoman, etc. The salsa is then topped off from a fresh slaw made from produce delivered daily consisting of Napa, Romaine and green onions that’s tossed in a chili-soy vinaigrette that’s also made fresh and raw daily.

    There’s a lot of prep work involved in our tacos, especially since we don’t buy premarinated meats packaged by some factory the way some other trucks HAVE to (understandably) in order to keep their costs down.

    You get a whole lot more in our taco than you’ll get anywhere else, especially for that price. In fact, we barely break even on our tacos because of the cost of all the labor involved in creating them.

    We care a lot about our food quality, and can’t really budge on meat quality. Because you can taste the difference between factory-farmed, antibiotic-laden meats and all-natural, antibiotic-free meats.

    And if you think $2.10 is too expensive, like I’ve said in the past, and I’ll say it now — get thee to another taco truck.

    For John and Bullwinkle, it sounds like you want it both ways. It costs more today for us to continue to make our food, so in order to keep running, we need to cut costs somewhere. But you want the same quality of food, and not want us to cut any of the amenities. EVEN AFTER WE’VE BEEN SHOULDERING EXTRA COSTS FOR TWO YEARS NOW.

    I know as Americans, we’ve been trained to gun for bottom-of-the-barrel prices, but we’ve got to draw the line somewhere if we don’t want to compromise the quality of the experience.

    If people come to us because they think our tacos are great, I’mma focus on keeping that taco consistent. People can bring their own napkins.

    Also, it’s a taco, but at the same time, there’s a whole lot more going on in there than the average taco. Like getting a steak at Sizzlers and a steak at Taylor’s.

    The price points will be different, but the meat will also be in two totally different categories.

  9. Dee says:

    Real Kogi fans understand and appreciate the quality of Kogi food. I say if Bullwinkle wants to go to the taco stands and enjoys getting the hershy squirts after, let him go. Thank you for thinking of us first and keep the tacos coming, even without the napkins.

  10. Mike says:

    What you’re saying totally makes sense, however at the very least a container with a lid of some sort would be appreciated (if you’ll no longer be providing aluminum foil) so I can transport your awesome food back to the office without needing my car detailed afterwards. That costs money, too… 🙂

  11. Reecie says:

    I love Kogi and lord knows I spent an absurd amount of time (and while we’re on the subject gas) traveling to the different areas to get Kogi.

    To piggyback on what John said…I spend an average of $13 (plus a $1 tip) everytime I go to the truck so it seems a bit over the top to not even get napkins included. Especially considering that 90% of the customers (if not more) eat in the car or on the sidewalk.

    If times are that tough why not buy those napkin/utensil prepackaged sets and sell them? That way people can choose whether or not to bring their own napkins/utensils/etc. or just pay an extra 10, 25, or 50 cents.

    I’m a diehard Kogi fan so I will come prepared…but I think you guys are seriously overestimating how many people will be ok with not being provided basic utensils for eating (call it “faulty” American thinking if you want, which I don’t agree with, but that is the average consumer mindset).

  12. Daniel says:

    To be honest, I really wouldn’t mind that much if the price had to be increased. The food trucks that come to UCLA campus are selling their burritos at like (at least) $7 and tacos at $3, and they don’t even taste better than Kogi. I figured it would only be a matter of time before you guys had to do something about the skyrocketing gas prices.

    I appreciate your effort on keeping the price down so I don’t have to spend too much every Thursday (Wednesday for this week)!

    No napkins? No prob. I can always wipe it on my jeans afterwards anyways 😛

  13. Bullwinkle says:

    The Simple solution seems to just provide A napkin or two per order from the crew depending on whats ordered. That way there is the “rationing” of the napkins. Just to simply say sorry were not providing a means to clean yourself off after eating our possibly messy/greasy food.

  14. LD says:

    No worries from this loyal customer. The amount of meat plus the quality plus the flavor in each taco is, IMHO, worth more than $2.10. other GFT’s charge more per taco, and aren’t up to par. i live in the OC, so i definately know that your trek down here every day is an expensive one. keep the food good. keep the prices the same. and i’ll keep coming back every week.

  15. Dave says:

    First of, really enjoy your food. I also get that gas is really expensive right now. If it ever does drop again, you may want to check out a website called mygallons.com. Might help you lock in gas prices in the short term, they even have a commercial site too. I don’t know what your operating budgets are but its something I’ve explored for my personal consumption as well. Hope it helps!

  16. Eric Shin says:

    Got some awesome suggestions, love, and support from you guys. It really means a lot. We’ll see what we can implement and try to give back as much as we can to you guys. No promises, but we’ll try our best!

    -Eric Shin

  17. DodgerDDog says:

    Alice and Eric,

    Hello, I am a relatively new follower of the Kogi truck in my area (only three visits thus far). Last night, I found out by first hand experience that other peoples food from their trucks just does not even come close to the flavor and quality of food that is prepared on your trucks. I hope that you see this reply. I wanted to quickly tell you of the experience I had last night.

    First of all, Thanks for thinking of the customer in regards to keeping the prices as they are for as long as you can. But, please do not let it get to the point where you would even consider having to shut down. It would be a shame not to have such a wonderful choice for food around. I definitely will be coming prepared when I visit your truck with containers to safely transport the items home.

    Ok, So, on to what I discovered yesterday evening… I had arrived about ½ hour early for the arrival of the “Verde” truck last night at the “Chatsworth” location. Across the street there were already a number of “other” trucks near by. One of them was a competing Korean BBQ truck whose name will not be mentioned here. There already was a line that was forming waiting for the Kogi truck to show up. That line eventually grew very big. I am a diabetic (no, not sumo sized 🙂 ) and have to eat on a fairly regular schedule. I waited as long as I could hold out for the Kogi truck last night (absolutely NO complaint here) but at 6:15 pm with no truck in sight I could not wait any longer and decided to give the “competitor” a try. I want to be very honest here, that was a mistake! Although they offered a comparable menu and prices, their food did not even come close to the taste and quality of yours! I did not get sick or anything like that but, this just confirmed to me that you are the BEST in my opinion! I will not make that mistake again. I apologize for cheating on you! One must learn from their mistakes and I sure did. I will try again tonight at the Northridge location and hope that, traffic willing, they will be on time. Thanks for offering such a great menu and wonderful tasting, high quality food in a mobile platform!

  18. patrick says:

    http://www.losangelesgasprices.com/index.aspx?fuel=A

    Try using this app to search cheaper gas…

    Also Costco gas is fairly cheaper…

  19. Shonna says:

    Your food is soooo yummy! Please come back to visit us in Santa Barbara :-))

  20. Sleepyhead says:

    No problem, this is why I have t-shirts.

  21. Errrr says:

    Costco gas is arco gas. Not good for your pocketbook in the long run :).

  22. FatCat says:

    Maybe you need to think outside the box on ways to lower your fuel costs.
    Convert your trucks to run on compressed natural gas or CNG. A lot of the new busses/ taxi s are running on CNG, not just because it’s cleaner, but it’s also cheaper. The equivalent price for CNG is around $2.50 per gallon. Checkout this website tracks CNG prices. http://www.cngprices.com
    Lets see if I have a correct understanding of how trucks operate. Por ejemplo, both the Rosita and the Naranja stock up at Chego in the morning and then drive the 50 or so miles to the OC for the al muerzo run, return to Chego and re-supply. Back to the OC for la cena, then return. And out and back again for le snack? Something like 600 miles a day between the two trucks. Reduce your fuel cost by reducing your miles driven. The other day you were thinking about opening a Chego East?
    Open, a Chego in the OC and supply your trucks from there, which could reduce mileage to maybe something like 150 miles a day or less.
    Keep la Rosita and la Naranja in the OC. Shuttle the food supplies and staff using a more fuel efficient minivan between Chego and the OC.

  23. Matt Lacsun says:

    heh, something had to happen, but we’ll find a way to deal with this in the mean time

    thanks for keeping the food good and priced alright!

  24. Huey says:

    @ FatCat. Now you got me all worked up. Just ate at Chego for the first time recently and am hooked. Chego in Costa Mesa would do well. As far as the napkin thing is concerned, I would gladly pay $3 for a taco as long as I get limes, radishes, and a napkin. I understand the costs of the little things nonbusiness owners take for granted. Anyone seen the price of good limes lately? Eat off the truck 1-2 times a week here in OC. Open a Chego down here and I will be a weekly guest. Expand your empire. See you at HiTimes for Rapture fix(it will be my 2nd time this week).

  25. Huey says:

    Note to people who will whine. Go to $0.99 store and buy tinfoil, paper towels/napkins, and forks. Put them in your car. No more than $3.30 and you have plenty for several trips.

  26. Lisa says:

    I can certainly handle my own foil and bags….Thanks for the wonderful food!!

  27. Trish says:

    No problema, Kogi! Hubby and I are more than happy to bring our own napkins if it means keeping the cost of the best damn tacos anywhere at $2.10 a piece. Ya’ll have the best food of any of the GFTs out there, and I’ve often wondered how you serve those big fatty burritos for as cheap as you do. Hell, I almost feel guilty, like I’m robbing you…(OK, maybe not), but I do understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. (-:

  28. Patrick says:

    I am a loyal customer and I’m environmentally conscious….and I only take two napkins with my order. I also bring my own bags to the market, rarely use a paper towel at home, and I save water. And I understand your dilemma. But to not even provide one napkin with an order, if I’m understanding correctly, is kinda weird! A bit too much, guys…

  29. David says:

    Love you guys. But as another poster said, you can’t seriously believe people will want to or remember to bring their own utensils. Charge whatever you need to for a pack of napkins and forks. I’ll skip them. ( I eat your food at home. )

    Thanks again!

  30. Sleepyhead2 says:

    Ah ha! What about trucks on napkins?!!!

  31. Mike says:

    As I (and most other customers, from what I observe in line) take your food to go – whether it be back to the office, etc. – it would be appreciated if your container at the VERY least had a lid on it. Especially if you will no longer provide the foil to wrap it up. (And honestly, that would be something to look into regardless…) Thanks!

  32. Maguadog says:

    Cool by me. I’ll just bring my own napkin or something. You guys still rock.

  33. narkspud says:

    I vote for higher prices, with napkins and forks included. These items are not optional for a food service business in the U S of A. Being the only food truck in California that does not provide these basics will be a stain on your reputation … far worse than a price hike would be.

    Besides, how many people are going to read this blog and show up pre-armed with utensils and such? Presumably some percentage of your business comes from casual walkups. They will be unimpressed by, and unlikely to return to, a napkinless food truck.

    Inflation is here. Like it or not, it’s time to price accordingly. Best of luck (to all of us).

  34. Jay says:

    I say keep the prices low! I can remember to bring my own napkin or something like that. I’d much rather be able to get food for less and be messy than pay more to be clean! Im not too proud!

  35. Littlejoe says:

    First things first, KOGI IS THE BOMB!!! Me & the boys from NBCUNIVERSAL have been hitting the truck by UNI for a few weeks now. I hadn’t been able to get off the chicken tacos cause the’re sooo good, but now I’ve tried the blackjack quesadilla and WOW!!! The sliders and burritos are great too. Trust me, I am the KOGI spokesman at NBC, and my group of guys looking for KOGI is growing weekly. Now yesterday we were a little surprised about not getting napkins. forget the foil and radishes and all that but, say two napkins per order dished out by your crew should be doable. FATCAT above had some pretty good ideas. Even if you went to $2.25 a taco for now, that should pay for a couple of napkins. Do what you think is best, we’re still gonna come. And THANKS SO MUCH for bringing us this taste sensation!!! Oh, and keep sending the trucks to Newhall and Granada Hills because thats my late night fix. Also, how about NBC and THE POINT building at Bob hope and Alameda in Burbank? Some other trucks are setting up there on Tues. and Thurs.

  36. Clint says:

    What if somebody brought a big platter of limes and a couple rolls of paper towels to share with everyone? The tacos will unite us! Look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others right?

  37. Rob says:

    Koji ROCKS!
    There have already been some great comments, I wont spend all day typing stuff. I’ve cooked professionally so I know what you are talking about with the prep and the higher quality ingredients. To compare your prices to a regular taco truck is reDICulous. I LOVE taco trucks too, but they are a different thing. Your prices are great. Whatever compromises you have to make are ok with me. I agree you might get some lame-ass backlash, but you’ll figure it out. Keep up the excellent work and let NOTHING get in the way of culinary excellence and quality! I’ll pay a little more if I have to (I hope I don’t)

  38. Rob says:

    Come back to Claremont !!!!!!!!!

    please !!!!

  39. nick m. says:

    So were not going to have napkins or utensils on the truck ever again. Don’t expect gas to lower, in Europe they’ve been paying double what we do for years. Get used to being messy

  40. Dusky says:

    I think it’s a bad idea from a business point not to at the very least offer napkins. If you don’t offer forks, people are going to use their hands, and as sweet and awesome kogi food is, it is pretty messy and people are not gonna be happy if they don’t get napkins. And if they have to go to nearby businesses to bum napkins, THOSE businesses are not gonna be happy either. I think it’ll make a pretty bad impression on first time customers. Maybe a compromise is to distribute napkins yourselves instead of letting them be free for all? And seriously, some of us really do not mind shelling out more for delicious kogi food. The whole point is the food itself, not the cost of it… I’m sure if you put a sign that said ‘rising costs due to gas, it’s either a couple quarters or no forks or napkins!’ People will agree the lack of napkins would be pretty silly.

  41. JK says:

    just provide 1 napkin per person…

  42. Debbie says:

    I agree with Dusky. A sign about “due to rising gas/supply costs prices are up a quarter or no forks & napkins” make a lot of sense.

    I haven’t had an opportunity to try Kogi yet and would be one of those 1st time customers. Not a favorable impression to a newbie to not at least have a napkin or 2 available. I like the idea of them being handed out instead of it being a free-for-all.

    From the experienced people, it sounds like it can be pretty messy so a basic napkin would be appreciated. Remember not everyone has been to a Kogi truck yet. How would they know to come prepared with foil, napkins etc?

  43. SNOWY says:

    Yes, hold the line on ingredients quality.
    Maybe charge higher prices in farther zones from your base?
    I went to Guitar Center a couple nights ago for a big order to bring home to family. No bags was a bit harsh, but then I think I ended up using extra foil then I would have cuz I would try to make one foil work on 2 trays and so on.
    I like the idea of server offering extras, or just charge a nickel for a bag or napkin?
    Some supermarkets and TJ’s are encouraging bring your own bag, and now that I know, I’ll be prepared.
    So that’s the thing, past wasteful habits can change once the life line is cut, then servers can help in an emergency “oh I forgot” just this time.

  44. josh says:

    i have a solution… have a sign that reads: “Times is hard.. napkins and or utensils are .25 cents. Thanks for not being a doucher!” perfect..

  45. bartron says:

    no brainer. Roy’s tacos are EASILY worth $3 per taco regardless. One can TASTE how much love and passion goes into each one. That’s why we all flock to them. Need the napkins at least.

  46. TSue says:

    I know it seems like an inconvenience and we all want things our way… but i’d rather keep Kogi prices low for now.. so i’ll bring napkins… maybe even a roll and leave to share… it’s all about people sharing a love for good food with fellow Kogi lovers. Do what you must Kogi… good things always come at a price! This is why Angelina Jolie makes more money per movie than Lindsay Lohan.

  47. lamo says:

    Seriously just give everyone one or two napkins we wait patiently in line for our food and when we are done eating there is nothing to wipe our hands and mouth with that’s just sad.

  48. Jonny says:

    Americans for the most part are spoiled. There is nothing wrong with eating cheap delicious food with your hands and then wash them or just lick them off.

  49. Jacques says:

    Charge what it costs. You can’t expect us to eat this without napkins and forks (or sparks) too messy. It’s a false economy and a bad decision; how can you expect to cut costs if you lose customers?

  50. Jacques says:

    Why thar shall be no mo customers who don’t like being told they needs ta lick the food drippings of thar fangers and eat Morrocan style. Cuz when confronted with stupid decisions, they pack up and go elsewhere!

  51. Eric Shin says:

    @Jaques Issue has been resolved a month ago with the reintroduction of napkins on the trucks on request.

  52. KW says:

    Have you guys thought about veg conversion? A lot of the trucks up here in PDX are converting to veg oil. Just a thought. I can put you in touch with the right peeps if interested.

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