Alcoholic popsicle truck finds fast acceptance in Florida, adds franchisees
Jan. 6, 2020 | by Elliot Maras
Joseph Isaacs serves samples of Buzz Pop’s alcoholic popsicles at a festival.
Editor’s Note: This is part two of a two-story series on Buzz Pop Cocktails.
When Joseph Isaacs started getting requests from people who wanted to know when and where they could get his all-natural, alcoholic popsicles, he knew he needed to broaden his marketing strategy.
Partners Joseph Isaacs and Juan Sastre have established a strong following for Buzz Pops among foodservice and hospitality clients.
His company, Buzz Pop Cocktails, built a strong following among foodservice and hospitality accounts in a two-year period, as described in part one of this two-part series. But consumers who came across Buzz Pops at foodservice and hospitality venues wanted more opportunities to buy them. The popsicles were not available at traditional retail.
Rather than expand into the retail market, which would require supplying retailers with freezers, Isaacs and his partner, Juan Sastre, opted to launch a food truck.
Modest requirements for a popsicle truck
The partners spent about $60,000 for their truck, a Ford Transit 250 equipped with cold plate freezers. Since there is no cooking on the truck, there are no sinks or fire extinguishers, and no need for a Florida safety inspection.
“It’s so simple, it’s ridiculous,” Isaacs said. “I don’t have that hassle and aggravation that most food trucks typically go through when they’re doing their event.”
Because the truck sells alcohol, it must serve at locations that allow alcohol, which precludes serving on neighborhood streets at random.
Buzz Pop Cocktails has a branded trailer for larger events.
The truck features Buzz Pop branding and can hold around 1,200 Push Pops. It carries five or six different Push Pop SKUs at a time selected from more than 100 flavors the company produces.
Between one to three people work the truck, depending on the event.
The order-takers use the Square POS, and accept both cash and credit cards. About 60% of the sales are paid in cash.
The partners also developed a branded food trailer to serve larger events.
Customer acceptance came fast
The brand was already well known in Florida before Isaacs launched the truck, so it wasn’t hard to gain customer acceptance. The company relocated its manufacturing operation last September from Las Vegas to Delray Beach, Florida.
The truck was an immediate hit at its first selling event in February, a chocolate festival. Close to 400 popsicles were sold in the first 1 1/2 hours, and there was a line 40 to 50 people deep for the duration of the four-hour event, Isaacs said.
The truck sells Push Pops for $10, which is a few dollars less than what customers pay at foodservice and hospitality outlets.
Because the product is made ready-to-serve, the truck — which presently serves around 80 events per year — can be set up in 12 minutes at an event, Isaacs said.
“We have so many events reaching out to us to be part of, that it’s hard to keep up with them all,” he said.
The truck has done about $150,000 to $170,000 in sales since February, working mostly on weekends.
Growth through franchising
Given the fast customer acceptance of the truck, Josephs decided to offer Buzz Pop Cocktails franchises.
The company has been offering truck franchises since July and already has four including one each Sarasota, Florida, Columbia, South Carolina, Austin, Texas and Denver. The goal is to have around 12 by next year and 25 by the end of the following year.
Franchisees are responsible for getting their own liquor licenses where the documents are required, Isaacs said, although the company does provide assistance. Franchisees are also required to have their own freezers for storing inventory.
In exchange for the franchise fee of around $150,000, the company provides the truck, marketing materials, a website, social media support, two days of training and some product inventory. The franchisees are required to book their own events.
The franchisees will also have a chance to offer new flavors, which the company is always developing, Isaacs said.
While the food truck is fairly new, Isaacs thinks the franchise business will eventually surpass the wholesale business. Isaacs did not want to reveal a revenue figure, but said the company now has 23 mostly full-time employees and makes millions of popsicles per year.
Photos courtesy of Buzz Pop Cocktails.
Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Equipment & Supplies, Food & Beverage, Franchising & Growth, Health & Nutrition, Independent Operators, Marketing / Branding / Promotion