Food trucks doing business outside Aspen City Hall | News

Aspen may not be known for its mobile food scene, but that could change in the near future now that two local food trucks have opened up shop outside Aspen City Hall on Rio Grande Place.

The Dreamery, an Aspen-based ice cream trailer, and Chamo’s, a Mexican-style taco truck, were selected by the city to park outside the former Taster’s restaurant location and offer service to locals and visitors for the duration of the summer season. The project was given a thumbs up by Aspen City Council in May, and the two vendors have been open for business since the Fourth of July weekend.

“I’m really excited with what we ended up with,” said CJ Oliver, director of environmental health and sustainability, who oversaw the vendor selection. “We’ve got the heartier Mexican tacos, and the ice cream I think is a nice complement to that, and it’s also relatively affordable.”

The city opened up the application process in late May to food vendors who were interested in the space, with the goal of finding two affordable, diverse options with sustainable best practices. The Dreamery and Chamo’s were the only two applicants that fit the bill and submitted complete applications on time, Oliver said.

Megan Thomas, owner of the Dreamery, and Carlos Hernandez, owner and operator of Chamo’s, both said that they are happy with the set-up and that business has been steadily picking up over the last few weeks.

“I am really happy to be in my little space down by the Rio Grande,” Thomas said. “I’ve always been interested in food trucks in Aspen, so I got on it right away because I thought it was an amazing opportunity. I wanted to be a part of the city’s growth in that area.”

Thomas has 25 years of experience in the food-and-beverage industry from New York City to California and in between, including Aspen. As a bartender and level two sommelier, she worked her way around the area’s finer establishments, but ultimately followed her dream of working for herself. She a small horse trailer in December and refurbished it earlier purchased this summer, and has since taken it to private events and parties across the valley. Now it’s parked outside of City Hall almost daily.

“I initially thought about building a mobile bar out of a vintage trailer, but being a mom and thinking about how I wanted to run a business, I got excited about ice cream and how I could vend in a way that could really make people smile ,” Thomas said. “It’s for all ages. The kids have just as big of a smile as the grown-ups do when they have a cone full of sprinkles.”

Thomas offers soft-serve cones with a variety of sprinkles, as well as a selection of ice cream sandwiches ranging from a rotation of classic flavors like chocolate and strawberry to more complex tones like salted caramel and pistachio.

Her new next-door neighbor, Chamo’s, satisfies a different kind of craving. Hernandez said his menu focuses on traditional Mexican-style tacos, tortas and quesadillas with various Latin-American influences and vegetarian and vegan-friendly twists. Any item on his menu can be made vegan, and all of his ingredients, with the exception of the meat, are plant-based.

A native of Nicaragua, Hernandez has been cooking Mexican food for 31 years, the past six of which he’s spent in Colorado, most recently in Rifle. The opportunity to bring his business to Aspen was a dream, he said.

“Everybody wants to have a business in Aspen and be successful,” he said. “Aspen is a gem in the mountains, I would call it, and I think there is a lot of opportunity and we are thankful to be here.”

The food truck is a dawn-till-dusk job for Hernandez and his assistant, Omar, and Hernandez said support from the city and local residents have been great so far. He and Thomas both reach the end of their contracts on Sept. 30, at which point the city council will discuss what worked and what didn’t determine whether to continue the food truck project or go in a different direction.

Hernandez said he would love to be able to keep his business in Aspen whether he continues to work out of the truck or finds a permanent space.

“We are here, hopefully we do a great job, and people like us and we can come back for the next season,” Hernandez said. “We are very grateful for the support from the locals and the city. They have been very kind to us.”

Chamo’s is open from 11 am to 6 pm daily, and the Dreamery is open 1-6 pm every day except Mondays, unless Thomas has a private event booked. Both trucks can be found outside of 455 Rio Grande Place.