Youth is not wasted on Ben King and Miguel Bencomo. The two friends and Boulder High grads are taking advantage of the relative freedom being in their mid-20s provides, launching Kingcomo’s Quesadillas, a funky food cart selling unique versions of the handheld treat.
It’s a sensible business. King and Bencomo, who have both worked in restaurants since their teenage years, prepare food in a commissary, then roll the cart out to breweries, parks and wherever they can find a spot to cook the quesadillas on an open-air grill. The cart was cheaper than a truck, and the ingredients are streamlined — they always need tortillas, always need cheese, and they have enough room to source one-off ingredients for pad Thai, tuna melt or s’more quesadillas.
Before launching Kingcomo’s Quesadillas, King and Bencomo recognized the growing number of traditional Mexican carts, trucks and restaurants in Boulder County, but thought they could find a niche with just the one food item. So far, they say, the response has been encouraging.
“It’s been actually really great,” Bencomo says. “Even with COVID, people are coming out and supporting us. We’ll land at a dog park or brewery and people are super positive.”
“There have been challenges,” King adds. “We were kind of hoping to do fairs and events; obviously, all of that kind of stopped. It has been a bit of struggle finding where to park and where people will be. All things considered, we’re finding our niche.”
About that pandemic. King and Bencomo launched the business last July, figuring even though the permitting process was slow and the world had come to a relative stand-still, better to start building a brand and learning the ropes of the mobile food world instead of waiting idly by. It wasn’t a clear-cut decision, though.
“I was definitely on the side of we should wait. We should be patient,” Bencomo says. “But Ben drove the permitting forward and got us licensed and we kind of went forward.”
“From my perspective, we’d already spent money to do applications. I think given just how lean our setup was, to me it made the most sense to go through with it and see how it worked,” King says. “If there were some problems we’d be able to iron it out so when COVID stopped, we’d be more experienced when there’s tons of people out and about.”
Their underlying friendship has allowed them to sort out those initial problems and myriad other issues that come with launching a mobile food business, from finding a spot to set up operations to accommodating property managers to dealing with weather. When it’s windy, for instance, parts of and pieces on the cart might spontaneously blow off into the distance, like an umbrella shooting off into the air “like a stomp rocket,” King says.
“But it’s been good,” Bencomo says. “We’ve talked to a lot of people about having to iron stuff out in terms of when the business grows, making sure everything is safe for both of us. Other than that, we’re still good friends and have a good time while working, and it makes it a positive experience.”
“I thought Miguel was going to trash me for a minute,” King jokes. “We might get into a somewhat intense discussion about the vision of the company or what the plan is. Ultimately, I think the best thing is we can hear the other’s points, be over it and move on.”
The plan, by the way, is to launch more food carts, with one person operating in one spot, the other in another. Maybe find a spot for a cart in Fort Collins. Then, hire employees to operate others.
But the driving force behind it all is the quesadilla. Through trial and error, and some customer suggestions, King and Bencomo came up with Tex-Mex, mac and cheese, hot dog, hamburger, traditional and other versions that make sense and taste good inside a quesadilla. Though there are failures and revisions along the way, just as in the business itself, King and Bencomo seem prepared to find a way forward.
Find Kingcomo’s Quesadillas at Uhl’s Brewing on Saturdays and the Valmont Dog Park on Sundays, both in Boulder.