by Steven Doyle
After winning Gordon Ramsay’s Masterchef, Luca Manfe launched The Lucky Fig in Houston serving more than 7,000 meals and catering 26 events. The concept was to deliver farm-to-street modern Italian cuisine. The truck‘s menu offered shareable starters like meatballs and stuffed riceballs as well as sandwiches on homemade bread and a rotating pasta special. It’s hearty, satisfying stuff, particularly the properly al dente rigatoni with bolognese sauce and the bison short ribs on ciabatta bread.
The gourmet food truck scene in Houston was all but nonexistent. The Lucky Fig was the best example of a very tiny niche—so tiny that “wildcatting” wasn’t a sustainable business model on its own. The corporate catering market, the primary driver for the food truck business, took a big hit due to the slump in the energy sector last year. Throw in some expensive mechanical issues and frustrated investors and Luca faced the perfect storm—shutting down on New Years Day this year.
Reading an article on Luca’s decision to close The Lucky Fig on New Years Day, Alexander Muse of Sumo Ventures contacted Luca and proposed a solution. Muse suggested creating a new company with Luca to buy the truck, the brand, and the concept and relocating it to the hot Dallas food scene with a laser focus on corporate event.
That’s just what the Luca and Alexander have done. Launching in the Spring (Dallas permitting willing), The Lucky Fig will continue to make the same great food it has always made, but focus on the production of self-contained corporate events to include a motivational-style speech, book signing, and catered meal from the truck.
The plan is to focus on producing events for the 20 or more Fortune 500 companies based in Dallas as well as over the Fortune 1000 companies based here as well. Luca will continue to set the menu and the truck’s culinary direction, but a yet to be named chef will take his place in the kitchen.