Luana’s Coffee Yard takes off as mobile coffee cart
After quitting his job in corporate sales, a failed iPhone App and a trip to the East Coast, Aaron Schofield was inspired to create Luana’s Coffee Yard.
Schofield’s personality shines through Luana’s with the bright turquoise mobile cart, its funky drinks and the unpredictability of its next location. His posts on Instagram are the only way for his customers to know where Luana’s is headed.
The unique concept of a mobile coffee cart has attracted businesses and people from all over the Valley. One day Luana’s will be parked outside the Film Bar in Downtown Phoenix and the next day it will cater a wedding in Scottsdale.
The 2-year-old mobile shop may be small, but Schofield does not work alone. His friends, family and girlfriend are all a part of Luana’s and make an espresso when they need to.
Although working with friends and family is often frowned upon, Schofield’s dad, Rex Schofield, disagrees.
“If you can’t do business with your friends and family who’s going to want to do business with you?” his dad said.
Kylee Roberts, his girlfriend, pointed out the reality of what it is like to build a company like Luana’s.
“The public doesn’t see all the work that it takes to just set up in different locations every day,” Roberts said. “It’s a lot of work, especially when it’s hot or cold. Also, people don’t see the reality of thinking of new ideas and then actually [executing them].”
Luana’s schedule is booked for the next three months and although it may seem Schofield has it all figured out, he gave an insight into the reality of what owning a business is really like.
Q: How did you get the idea to create a mobile coffee shop?
A: I got lucky because I was able to find the cart that I have now for a really good price. It was in my friend’s grandmother’s backyard and they used to make snow cones in it. The cart was sitting there for like 10 years and I got my hands on that. Over the course of a year, I spent some money on it and a lot of elbow grease with my dad just trying to clean it and figure out a way to put an espresso machine in it. We worked on it until we finally got it going on the road.
Q: What are some of the difficulties you have encountered because Luana’s is mobile?
A: When I first started, we were going out every day. It was really hard to find a space to go sell coffee. In my head, I was like, “Oh this will be sick. I’ll just drive around everywhere, stop at a corner and then the line will start, and I’ll leave and go have a beer and be happy.” I realized quickly you can’t do that. It’s not permitted. So, I found a couple places that would let me set up. One was on 67th Ave. and Thunderbird, right where I went to high school. I figured that would be the best place to start because everyone there knows who I am. I then just set up on the parking lot of a bicycle shop. And then we just took off. I was making more money than I had in three years and then the city of Peoria was like “Yo, you can’t be here.”
I had to leave that spot and it would cause a problem I had not planned for according to my business concept. We would piss off our customers because they would go to the location and we were not there. So, our biggest asset became our biggest negative because I wasn’t there every day and I couldn’t be there all day long to serve the same people. We were constantly building up followings but also constantly losing them because we’ve been gone for three days. People are creatures of habit, especially with coffee, so when you build a following and leave it, it takes a long time to regain their trust that you will be there again.
Q: You are an advocate for local businesses, but how difficult is it to keep it local?
A: It is a lot harder. It would be way easier for me to go to Costco or Amazon and buy everything I need. Instead of getting coffee from one place, milk from another, honey from another, and all that jazz. It also costs you more money than sometimes it’s even worth. But when I started Luana’s I told myself I would spend a little more money to stay local as long as they’re not screwing me. Which you have to be careful with too, and it sucks but sometimes you have to bite the bullet.