TAMPA — Personnel working at MacDill Air Force Base will have another way to get a morning jolt starting Monday, when Buddy Brew Coffee rolls its new truck onto the base for service.
The truck adds to the growing fleet of local mobile food vendors invited by MacDill in recent years to increase the number of dining options on base.
Buddy Brew’s 24-foot box truck is outfitted with a Simonelli espresso machine, Curtis coffee brewer, bean grinders and refrigerators for selling bag lunches.
Company co-owner David Ward said the truck will serve from 6:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., starting out at the parking lot of the Surf’s Edge Club on Bayshore Boulevard. The coffee truck then could travel to spots near U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command buildings later in the day.
Built by South Florida food truck manufacturer Miami Trailer, the 1999 Chevrolet once was a Lance snacks delivery vehicle. It was gutted and renovated for coffee service with all new equipment, including a 60-gallon freshwater tank for the espresso and brewing machines, a 30-gallon tank for two sinks and a 42-gallon waste tank.
The truck is the latest expansion for Buddy Brew, which earlier this year opened a larger, renovated coffee shop on Kennedy Boulevard and began selling roasted beans in several Whole Foods groceries in Florida.
“We spared no expense on the truck,” Ward said. “It’s a full-blown coffee shop on wheels.”
Three years ago, MacDill officials invited Bryan Goodell to bring his Wicked ‘Wiches sandwich truck to serve on the base. He now operates two Wicked ‘Wiches trucks and two Slow & Low Barbecue trailers, and he has plans to add a Five Buck Truck serving grab-and-go lunches.
Building a consistent customer base was difficult at first because military personnel tend to follow strictly regimented schedules, Goodell said. But having a steady stream of weekday patrons is the goal of almost every food truck.
Serving mobile food at MacDill can be a challenge, he said. First, parking spaces are limited, and few service personnel and civilians want to surrender their spots to go look for food.
Also, Centcom and Socom workers sometimes lack the flexibility to leave their desks. When they do, they must go through security checks to re-enter the buildings.
When conflicts flare around the world, such as in the Gaza Strip or Ukraine this week, Goodell sees sales dip as workers stay in their offices to deal with crises instead of heading out for lunch.
“We have to remind ourselves that we’re not serving at some office building on West Shore,” Goodell said. “We’re only yards away from people making worldwide decisions. You can see on their faces the kind of day they’re having or the day our country is having.”
Goodell predicts Buddy Brew’s truck will do well on base because the only coffee vendor now is a Dunkin’ Donuts in the MacDill AFB Exchange.
“Once you’re through the gates, MacDill is like its own city,” Goodell said. “They’ll be the only hand-crafted coffee in a city of 15,000. It’s a smart move all the way around.”