A new food truck featuring upscale cuisine makes its debut Friday in Kennewick.
Gourmet Grub Bus, helmed by operator Zac Mason and chef Andrew Grassick, is launching with a $50,000 investment by Steve Lee, co-founder and owner of Green2Go, one of three licensed cannabis businesses operating in Benton County.
Gourmet Grub Bus will offer casual fine dining on wheels and promises to serve fresh-cooked, gourmet meals on a fixed weekly schedule that will include stops at Hanford, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and other Tri-City locales.
Beginning later this month, it will cater brunch at The Local, 8530 W. Gage Blvd. in Kennewick. Brunch will be available on a pre-sale basis to start.
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Lee, who founded and co-owns Green2Go with his wife, confirmed profits from the Finley business are funding not only Gourmet Grub Bus but other local businesses with no direct ties to cannabis.
Lee said he has little other choice when it comes to investing Green2Go profits, since most investments are regulated by the federal government and cannabis remains a Schedule 1 drug under U.S. law.
“Diversification is the only option for expansion,” Lee said.
By investing cannabis profits in start-ups, Lee and similar entrepreneurs are providing an intriguing new avenue for local entrepreneurs to secure startup capital.
The legal cannabis industry reported more than $1.3 billion in revenue for the fiscal year that ended June 30 and paid almost $305 million in excise taxes, according to figures compiled by the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board, which regulates the industry.
Carl Adrian, president of the Tri-City Development Council, said efforts to create a seed capital fund have fallen short. He credits Lee with putting his money where his mouth is.
“You’ve got to hand it to Steve. He’s in it to make more money. That’s what he should be doing,” he said.
Green2Go’s connection to Gourmet Grub Bus ends at Lee. The food truck doesn’t sell marijuana, Mason and Grassick said.
Mason is a Tri-City native and Pasco High School graduate known locally for fronting the band Run From Cover (now Indo Lux) and more recently for managing Tri-Cities Tap & Barrel at Queensgate.
Grassick is a self-taught chef from Tampa Bay who moved to the Tri-Cities last fall to work in the wine industry. He’d sold his restaurant interests in Florida and was looking for a break from the kitchen business.
The two met when Grassick visited Tap & Barrel. Mason spied a talented chef in his new friend. Grassick missed the creativity of the kitchen setting and began offering cooking programs for members of his winery’s club. Mason was none-too-subtle about his interest in a joint business.
“I kind of romanced him into my creative world,” Mason said.
Mason likens Gourmet Grub Bus to a record label. He’s the producer and promoter, while Lee is the financial backer. Grassick, the chef, is the main event.
“Andrew is my rock star,” he said.
The duo contemplated a joint venture, including a brick and mortar restaurant. Their thought turned instead to food trucks. Both admit they knew little about the mobile dining concept, but devoted months to learning, planning and securing regulatory approval. They’re working with Pasco Specialty Kitchen and its education platform for mobile vendors. They’ll use the Pasco kitchen as their commissary.
They approached Lee about investing after a chance encounter at a sandwich shop. Mason, an old friend, pitched the idea and Lee was sold.
The team acquired the truck in March and Finley-based Western Equipment equipped it with a full commercial kitchen.
The grand opening will be Friday and Saturday at D’s Wicked Cider, 9312 W. 10th Ave. in Kennewick. Hours are 3 to 10 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday. The schedule is still a work in progress and the truck is available for special events.
Follow its progress at facebook.com/GourmetGrubBus/
New Roasters Coffee location
Roasters Coffee opens its ninth location July 14 at 300 N. Ely St., at the corner of Highway 395 and Clearwater Ave. To celebrate, it will sell drinks for $1 from 5 a.m. to midnight and other specials.
Wes Heyden, founder and operator, established the first Roasters in 2009 in Pasco, using credit cards to fund the startup.