The day before its new permanent food stand was set to open last week, the Angry Line Cook announced they would not be opening inside Graze Provisions + Libations food hall in Minneapolis after all. In a social media post, the owners of the popular truck said that the push for permanence wore them too thin, and they knew it was time to walk away.
"We were really excited about Graze and get to Minneapolis and sell some burgers," said co-owner Mona Negasi. "Ultimately, it wasn't right for the business or our bodies."
The Angry Line Cook was founded by Negasi, Colby Swanson and Jesse Hedman with the belief that anger can serve a good purpose and change the world for the better. Negasi and Hedman had worked together at Just/Us, an innovative St. Paul restaurant that was determined to operate in a way that didn't burn out its chefs and staff, but ultimately shuttered during the pandemic.
"Jesse and I coming from Just/Us — we were the only members remaining of those of us that opened it, and had to do 90-hour work weeks, and we had an investor calling the shots," Negasi said. "The food truck was built to be the answer to that."
The food truck launched in March, and the initial business plan was to operate the truck this season and then secure a commissary space in the fall to ride out the cold months and supply the truck. Things were going according to plan, with ample positive support from followers. Then, a little more than a month ago, the opportunity from Graze came about and seemed, at first, to be a way to accelerate their business plan.
"When Graze reached out, we thought we could make that work. We hoped to secure a commissary space in the fall — and [the stand at] Graze could cover the overhead and we could use it as a commissary space for the truck," said Negasi.
The deal moved quickly, with an offer to open, lease signed and public announcement made all in a matter of weeks, Negasi said.
The reality and pressures of the fast-moving timeline ultimately proved to be too much for the small crew, who said two weeks before the planned opening was the first time they could begin to move into the space. Time was spent cleaning, ordering and installing equipment and addressing soaring food costs.
Bottom line costs quickly soured their initial math. The more they visited the numbers, the more the impending reality of cutting staff down to just the owners and ramping up to 90-hour workweeks illustrated how far the Angry Line Cook was deviating from its initial goals.
"We didn't want to succumb to the pride of 'Oh, we can do this.' We couldn't do this without the sacrifice," said Negasi, who also said it was a tough decision that comes not without guilt over the investments made both on their part and on the part of Graze.
And with that monumental decision, The Angry Line Cook took a breath, made the public announcement they were walking away and are now loading back into the food truck.
"We know that things only stay buzzing for so long. How do we capture lightning in a bottle," Negasi said. "We'd love to buy houses and stop renting — or have families and not work everyday. Some day."
Graze Food Hall did not respond to request for comment for this story.