Sweet success for smoothie operator
Food and drink taste better when served from the side of a retro truck.
It’s a scientific fact – or at least it should be, according to 27-year-old entrepreneur Matt Lockwood.
The construction worker by day has created a burgeoning afterhours business blitzing smoothies for Auckland’s summer crowds.
Lockwood’s firm, The Beverage Boy, appeals to nostalgic Kiwis who remember scrabbling around in the depths of the couch for coins as the notes of Greensleeves float down the street and the salty tang of hot chips smothered in that special tomato sauce.
While the beauty of a good hot dog hasn’t faded, a new generation of trucks is popping up around the country, serving food with the same cheer but with a new healthconscious twist.
Lockwood watched the rise of the truck and noticed one thing: The salads, bagels, tacos, gelato and sushi were mostly served with a stock-standard soft drink.
His love of food simmered away and, despite working 9am to 5pm in his day job, he had an idea for a deserving beverage.
Smoothies came up during a conversation with a friend and within a week (and without a business plan) a 1974 Bedford Cresta camper van had been purchased from elderly owners in Mt Maunganui and was sitting on a side street in Grey Lynn.
As a child Lockwood had dreamed of being a pizza delivery boy. Now as The Beverage Boy he creates fresh, 100 per cent natural smoothies and juices, serving summer crowds at events and beaches.
‘‘My dad has a joinery company in Palmerston North, so I decided to head down there for three weeks.
‘‘Five months later ... it was a long project. I looked back at my original budget recently and laughed – it was a bit silly.
‘‘I could have cut back, but I knew I would be spending so much time in there that I wanted it to be right.
‘‘It’s probably nicer than my kitchen at home.’’
With the truck sorted, next was learning the art of making smoothies and juices.
‘‘I went out one weekend and purchased $200 worth of produce. There was a lot of trial and error, a few interesting experiments that ended with curdled milk and funny textures, so I worked out the do’s and don’t’s.’’
The Beverage Boy and his mintgreen smoothie machine made their debut at the homecoming of Team New Zealand in September 2013.
Although not the happiest of occasions, at least the crowds had fresh, made-to-order smoothies in which to drown their sorrows.
It’s the perfect summer job. During weekends between December and March Lockwood parks at selected events in Auckland and further afield.
Friday nights mean Silo Park, where movies projected on to the side of concrete silos provide entertainment for thirsty crowds; Saturdays and Sundays are a mixture of markets, festivals and private events.
His office changes daily, the view offering anything from beach-front paradise to people-watching at a food festival.
Not that he has time to take it in; a normal night sees about 300 smoothies and juices made from scratch.
‘‘The biggest learning curve for me was the amount of preparation and organisation involved.
‘‘It takes about two days to get ready for a big event and half a day for Silo Park.
‘‘I have something like 50 kilograms of bananas to peel and slice and 100 kilograms of apples to juice as well as various other fruits. Having only one fridge and freezer means being well prepared.’’
It’s a one-man show, from purchasing the ingredients at Art of Produce in Ponsonby to prepping to blending the drinks and cleaning up.
‘‘I sometimes have friends or family helping out but you can pay people with juice only for so long. My partner Steph has been amazing; she’s the best nonemployee I’ve got.’’
With only one pair of hands and a line of waiting customers, it’s lucky that Lockwood is used to speed.
The sedate pace of his current ride is a surprise to those who know him as a podium-placing, nationaltitle-winning V8 SuperTourer driver.
His success on the track led to another personal victory: becoming an ambassador for Arthritis New Zealand, having lived with arthritis since he was eight. It doesn’t slow him down though; he can whip up a smoothie in 40 seconds.
It’s a necessary skill with festivals such as Splore and Wanderlust requiring 18-hour days.
However, with the truck giving him the freedom to explore wherever the road may lead, it’s not exactly a chore.
‘‘It is hard work but it’s more a hobby than a job. It’s fun and it’s worth it.
‘‘There is a special cocktail list for private events like birthdays and weddings. I’ve been finding that companies are hiring us for the morning after as well – apparently a fresh smoothie or juice can ease the pain of the previous night.
‘‘To be classed as 100 per cent natural we have to juice all the apples then bottle and refrigerate the juice.
‘‘We can’t use any preservatives, but we discovered while doing research – Googling – that cinnamon is a natural preservative and will make the juice last for about a week.
‘‘It tastes great too; apple, ginger and carrot with a hint of cinnamon is delicious.’’
One-man show: It’s a one-man show, from purchasing the ingredients at Art of Produce in Ponsonby to prepping to blending the drinks and cleaning up.