Saturday, October 29, 2016

Eugene Gochenour's Memoirs: Running a Coffee Truck

In this installment from my dad's memoirs he talks about running a side business, a coffee truck in Lockport, NY.
Gene Gochenour

"A few years after we opened the station a friend talked me into going into the coffee catering business with him. His name was Sam Letcher and he had worked for a coffee catering service so he had some knowledge about the business. Since neither of us had established credit we asked my father to cosign for a loan at the bank for us, which he did. The loan was for two hundred and fifty dollars. 

"We bought an old truck and I painted it green, built shelves for the coffee and donuts, and had our name painted on it. We called our business “S & J Coffee Service” When Sam applied for our business license, he put down Jean, instead of Gene, on the form. I was not about to go to the trouble to change it. We decided to run the business at Lockport, a town about twenty-two miles away. There were several coffee catering businesses in our area, but none there. We rented the second floor of an existing business on Market Street in Lockport. The second floor had not been used years so we had to clean it up, then install our coffee urns and supplies.

"Every morning, Monday through Saturday, I got up early, and went to Gallager’s Bakery at the city of Kenmore where I picked up about twenty dozen donuts, then drove to Lockport. I drove a 1950 Dodge sedan then, and I filled all the seats with trays of donuts and on the way I would eat one. But after a week or so, I did not eat any, and I would open the car windows, because I didn’t even like the smell of them! 

"When I arrived at our building in the morning I made about sixteen gallons if coffee, and then loaded the coffee urns and donuts on the truck. After I had loaded the truck Sam would come in and drive to various businesses to sell the coffee and donuts, Then I would go back and work the rest of the day at the station. On Sundays I drove to Lockport to get the truck and bring it back to the station to wash and service it. Then I drove it back to Lockport so it was ready for the next week. Each day the unsold donuts were dropped off at the station, so our customers always had free donuts. Of course we had a coffee machine at the station also. 

"The vehicle we used for our coffee business was a step van that we had paid one hundred and twenty five dollars for. We decided we needed another vehicle so we bought an old Ford panel truck. It had been used by a paint contractor so it needed a good cleanup. I painted it, put in shelves, and had it lettered with our business name. On the first trip to Lockport, Sam flipped it over on a curve, and totaled it. Luckily he did not get hurt in the accident.

"I stopped going to Lockport when we hired a lady to work for us a few months after we started. I never made any money from that business, and after a few years I sold my part of the business back to Sam for the original amount I had invested. I never should have been talked into getting involved in another enterprise, because I had all I could handle at the station!"