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‘Latte run’ has a new meaning

Paula Kresser with “Lucy,” the truck that takes espresso everywhere.  - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
Paula Kresser with “Lucy,” the truck that takes espresso everywhere.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

There are a lot of coffee shops on the island. Only one has bright chrome spinning rims.

The shop in question is currently parked in the Yaquina Avenue yard of Paula Kresser, a standard looking ice cream truck aside from the paint job (stripes around the bottom with wild swirls of color around the top) and of course, the gleaming set of spinners.

The exact date has yet to be set, but sometime in the next two weeks the truck will begin scheduled service at the Aquatic Center and Battle Point Park, selling espresso, beverages and locally made food.

Kresser and her recently formed Treeroot Edibles company have signed a contract with Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park and Recreation District to serve both parks until the end of the year.

Recreation Services Director John DeMeyer, who handled the search for a vendor, said it is the first long-term concessions agreement the district has made.

“At the Aquatic Center people are always asking when we’re going to have coffee available and when we’re going to have a beverage service beyond just the soda machines,” DeMeyer said.

In response to that common demand, the Park District put out a request for concession stand proposals in the spring of 2007.

The original idea, DeMeyer said, was to have an indoor concession stand at the Aquatic Center with a more mobile solution at Battle Point Park, perhaps from two different contractors.

But by mid-summer the Park District had received no proposals for either park.

“We were going to give up,” DeMeyer said.

The idea for a mobile stand came to Kresser in June when she was in Connecticut for a nephew’s graduation. The caterer for the event had a scheduling mix up and never showed, but a friend of the family came to the rescue with an ice cream truck, which was received gratefully by both children and adults.

The flexibility of a mobile platform intrigued Kresser and on Bainbridge she began to develop a plan for a food and drink stand that could serve kids and parents at gatherings and soccer games. When she learned the Park District was looking for a similar service, it all seemed to click.

Kresser went online to find the right truck and ended up winning an auction on eBay for a Chevy milk truck that had been converted for selling ice cream in Reno, Nev.

When her husband Craig flew out and drove the truck back to Bainbridge, it was still coated in ice cream stickers and had the external speakers for playing music.

“He was stopped several times by people looking to buy ice cream,” Kresser said.

Kresser, who works as an interior designer, wanted the business to have a strong aesthetic appeal. Freelance auto painter Jim Davis of Port Orchard, with the guidance of Kresser, transformed the truck with bars and swirls while island artist Sally Prangley helped design a tree logo for the side.

“I’m totally focused on aesthetics and function,” Kresser said. “I wanted something that was fun but tastefully done.”

Inside the truck was outfitted with an espresso machine refrigerators and food warmers, all powered by a generator, making it a self-contained unit on the job.

Kresser said the stand will offer re-usable bags for collecting cups and food containers at the park.

Behind the window trained baristas will serve up a full line of espresso drinks alongside juices and teas. As for food, the stand will have the usual standbys of cookies and breakfast bars from Bainbridge Bakers but Kresser is planning a heartier fare as well.

Park goers will have a choice of beef mushroom burgundy, chicken pot pies, panini sandwiches and mini pizzas. When the weather warms the stand will have cool drinks and ice cream.

“Honestly there are so many options for things we can do, it really depends on what the public demands,” Kresser said.

In January, the Park District tested the waters, giving the mobile stand a one-day trial outside a swim meet.

The reception was warm enough that the district accepted Kresser’s proposal and a deal for service was signed early this week. Under the agreement, Treeroot Edibles will pay the Park District a percentage of its sales.

Hours of operation are still being worked out, but DeMeyer said the schedule will be on a month-to-month basis.

If the concessions program goes well, DeMeyer said the Park District will be interested in continuing and possibly expanding food services.

“Especially through the spring time they’re going to learn a lot and we’re going to learn a lot about demand,” he said.

When not at the parks, the mobile stand will be available for community and private events Kresser said. She has already scheduled a number of appearances for the truck, beginning with the Chinese New Year celebrations Feb. 10.

Kresser said Treeroot Edibles will also be open to helping nonprofits with special fundraisers.

“We’re really looking for ways to give back to the community,” she said.

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Espresso lane

The Treeroot Edibles truck will be at the Chinese New Year celebration and the Island Center Native Horsemanship Concert Feb. 10, and the Chilly Hilly bicycle ride Feb. 23. Contact Paula Kresser at (206) 963-1842, and look for park hour updates at www.biparks.org.

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