Cantina Q&A

Cantina Q&A

The team at Impos, our excellent register provider, had a Q&A with our Cantina Amigos about the delicioso HQ vs the Truck and the role of social media.

Impos Q&A

Following the Food Truck revolution over the past 12 months and the launch of Cantina Mobil, Cantina HQ opened in August on the Cnr of Crown & Oxford Streets, Darlinghurst. The site was initially leased to provide an off-premise for Cantina Mobil Food Truck. After the positive response to Cantina Mobil, the fixed site accommodates the Cantina offices, kitchen & a place for Cantina’s Amigos to enjoy their addictive Mexican Street fare anytime! It enables the Cantina crew to be more omnipresent and get their delicious food out there for those who really love it.


Cantina Mobil was the first truck to hit the streets of Sydney and has fared well given the new fascination not only with the Food Truck concept but with Mexican cuisine! Mexican has come a long way in recent years, no longer the wet, cheesy dish smothered in sour cream but a much more modern take, offering fresh and light seasonal ingredients. Diners are treated to their choice of soft or hard tacos, burritos and fresh chilli corn with their choice of fillings including Chipotle beef, slow roasted and shredded with red cayenne chilli sauce and fresh lime or Achiote chicken, marinated and slow cooked with green jalapeno chilli sauce and fresh coriander…


Now that your mouth is watering, today we chat to co-owners Rode Vella & Stephanie Raco, hospitality veterans with a combined 22 years’ experience and former owners of ‘in situ’ Manly. The pair decided that if they returned to the industry, takeaway food would be the way forward. They’re now enjoying a life on the road rather than the confines of the same 4 walls and are bringing their unique Mexican Street Food to their growing legion of Amigos to Sydney landmarks, parks, beaches and events throughout the city.


Cantina Mobil was the 1st to hit the streets of Sydney, how was the reaction?

Overwhelmingly positive. Sydneysiders and travellers alike, all have stories to tell about their Food Truck experiences around the world and there was a real sense of joy that Sydney was now embracing this informal dining style.


How does Cantina HQ’s cuisine compare to Cantina Mobil’s?

The two are one of the same, what is served from one can be enjoyed at the other. Cantina HQ is quite simply the engine room where we slow-roast and prepare all our food, stock and unload Cantina Mobil and where we are also able to greet & serve our Amigos who enjoy the ease of a fixed premise, when they’re not in the mood to roam the streets tracking our truck! Cantina HQ also enables us to experiment and fine tune our offerings, essentially keeping the wheels in motion.


The hospitality industry has embraced social media like no other with Cantina Mobile/HQ communicating to your consumers via FB & Twitter, do you have someone dedicated solely to this?

FB & Twitter are essential for our brand awareness and location communication, Lucy Kate is our visual marketer & Stephanie provides the voice of Cantina!


I read somewhere you were surprised by the challenges involved with launching a Food Truck including the height of staff! What have been some other challenges?

Undoubtedly the building of the Food Truck. To avoid excessive power usage and noise emissions from the generator, Rode researched endlessly and even replaced heating elements to reduce our power consumption and keep Cantina’s usage to 3600watts..Challenging considering 2 household kettles generate more power!


How does this compare to running your previous venue In Situ? Easier, harder, different?

Equally challenging within a slightly different playing field. At ‘in situ’ our focus was on live music, cocktails, al la carte breakfast, lunch & the majority of time is spent event managing, negotiating traffic and large scale cooking!


What have you found to be the main benefit of the ImPOS system at Cantina HQ?

Love that it has simplified our payroll system and enables us to assess trading trends, popularity of dishes etc anytime we need to. The simplicity of using the system has also been great especially when training new recruits, as we all know the hospitality industry is largely made up of transient workers and staff turnover can be high.


Does Cantina Mobile go out rain, hail or shine or do have to call your movements based on weather?

We definitely draw the line at hail and torrential winds! Being unprotected from the elements really ensures that we consider our movements and remain realistic as to whether customer patronage is likely or not. We’re looking forward to a sunny, balmy Summer ahead.


Is there a healthy rivalry between the Food Trucks?

There’s camaraderie amongst us. We all want the Food Truck Trial to be a success, so we work together as much as possible, scouting sites, recommending each other for events and so on.


Does Cantina HQ have a signature dish?

Cantina’s slow-roasted succulent meats, however you’d like to enjoy them, burrito, taco or nachos are the real stars. Chef Simon Livingston reached new heights in creating the recipes for them and they’ve been fantastically received.


Finally, how does Stephanie Raco relax after a long day’s work?

A tequila usually begins the wind down process!