Wander into any food festival or farmer’s market in the capital cities and you see them; vintage caravans set up as mobile cafes, food stalls and bars.
Now Narrandera has one of its own. Former cafe owner Trent Light has spent the last year refurbishing a caravan to make mobile coffee shop, which made its debut at the Narrandera Farmer’s markets on Sunday.
“It’s built in a 1960s caravan. So it’s kind of retro. It’s really awesome, it’s not like your average catering trailer out there,” Mr Light said.
“The van is something I’ve always wanted to do; even when I had the cafe, it was a dream to do a van like this. I think it’s where everyone going these days, because you can go anywhere. It’s a mobile bar and coffee trailer. I had the cafe in Narrandera for about three years; I’ve been working as a barista since I left school. I put a lot of time and effort into this and try to get it right all the time,” he said.
With the van, it doesn’t matter where we are, we can pump out really good coffee.
“Lately I’ve been using a blend from Canberra which is award winning for the past two years. Last year they got Australia’s best roast, but I’m thinking of making a big change back to somewhere local, which is the Blessed Bean in Wagga. I’ve used their coffee in the past.”
The van can also be used as a mobile bar.
“The way that works is that we can use it anywhere as a bar. For instance, at a wedding, the bride and groom actually buy all their alcohol, and then they hire the van and my services, and I’ve got RSA training and bar staff. We come along, they give us all the alcohol, and we just take the worry away from them for the night. We serve everyone drinks, we can mix cocktails; we just keep everyone happy basically.
“You don’t have to have licenses for BYO, so we treat this like that. As long as I’ve got RSA trained staff, we’re good to go. Down the track maybe we’ll look at a liquor licence because it allows us to buy and sell alcohol.
“It’s a little bit harder to get a liquor licence, because usually a liquor licence is for a fixed premises. I have done a lot of research into it – and trust me, there is a lot of research involved – that you can get a liquor licence for a particular business and that business doesn’t have to be fixed. It’s designed for things like this. But that’s down the track a little bit, at the moment we’ll just stick to what we’ve got.”
Mr Light is looking forward to the opportunities the van will present now that it is finished.
“Already I do all the farmer’s markets without the van, I’ve been doing that for the last two and a half years. But the set up I had was just very time consuming; I’d pack it all into a trailer the day before, wake up really early the next morning, arrive early to where I have to go. It took me two hours just to set up. With the van, you pretty much drive it, take it off the car, plug it in and you are good to go.
“This month, every weekend’s nearly book-ed for coffee anyway. This weekend I’ve been booked for the Coleambally Vintage Rally, the third week I’ll either be at the races doing coffee or I’ll be at the Ganmain Show making coffee, so this month’s pretty much taken up. Then the NSW Rural Women’s Gathering has booked me in October to do 350 cocktails in a night. Don’t ask how, but I’m going to do that.”
The van goes by the name of Vincent, although Mr Light isn’t quite sure why.
“It just works. I got the van in Narrandera. It was a funny story; I needed this van because I’ll fit in it. A lot of vans are too short and I’m six foot five, so I had to have the right van. I was probably looking for about one and a half years for this particular van. I found heaps of vans around the area; they were either beyond repair or people wanted too much money for them.
“One day I got a phone call. My brother, who’s a plumber in town, was on a roof and he said two houses over he could see the van that I wanted. So I got in the car and we went to see this guy. It was an older bloke and he said he’d had plans to do it back up into a caravan, but he’d had a few medical issues, and he said he couldn’t get around to it.
“So I got the van off him, as long as I take it back to him and show him when it’s done, he said all will be good. He was pretty attached to it as it went through the family. For him to pass it on was a big deal. But he was pretty happy that it was in safe hands and he knew what I wanted to do with it. I said, do you know that I’m going to completely change the whole thing? I mean, I gutted the inside; I cut out half the wall. He said, as long as you take care of it.
“I think that’s another good thing, I picked it up in Narrandera. I love Narrandera and I try to keep everything here.”