About a year ago, Stuart Campbell and his girlfriend decided that downtown didn’t have enough healthy and indulgent food—“something that fills you up but still leaves you clean,” as Campbell puts it. Armed with a food cart and a dream, the two set up Happy Go Lucky Veggie Cuisine on the corner of Eighth and I streets and bestowed vegan goodness onto the hardworking folks of downtown. Their “meatball” sub is the messiest, most amazing loaf of grub downtown, served with the biggest smiles and best attitudes.
State workers and government officials don’t seem like the stereotypical vegans.
We are bad right in the middle of government buildings. Oddly, we find a lot of our clientele to include a lot of lawyers and judges. For whatever reason, those people prefer to be on a little cleaner diet, probably because they need to stay mentally sharp all day.
What sort of food do you guys have?
Amazing subs, gourmet salads and rice bowls from some of our favorite vegan restaurants, Au Lac Veggie and Sugar Plum Vegan. They specially crafted some awesome takeout-friendly dishes for us. It’s all about the Bona Fide sub and Bliss Bomb salad.
Will you be unveiling any new dishes soon?
We are working pretty closely with the Sugar Plum Vegan team and creating some fantastic new eats. Stay tuned.
Some people are timid to approach a vegan establishment because of that whole “pretentious vegan” stereotype.
Yeah, that [vegans] are self-righteous and such. Honestly, you do get that in a lot of places, but by no means do you get that here. If someone comes up to me and says, “Man, I need really meatballs!” I’m more than happy to recommend Sampino’s [Towne Foods] right down the street. No judgments at all.
How many pay you a visit each day?
We plan on 35 a day, but sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on multiple factors. We usually sell out before 1 p.m.
How did you decide on this specific corner?
Basically, we scored this corner through a lottery where people threw their name in a hat and can pick the corner they want to operate on when their name was picked. We were picked third out of, like, 175 people! That’s why we named our service “Happy Go Lucky.” We picked this prime location because it is a block from Cesar Chavez [Plaza].
What’s your favorite part of running a lunch cart?
The schedule is amazing, being outside is amazing, and bonding with all of our regulars. We even have a frequenter’s card now, with over 100 given out in only a few weeks. They make us feel like we are part of something, even though we are doing a very simple job. We love our customers.
Any interesting characters ever stroll on by the cart?
Tons! What’s interesting, though, is that they all have our back. When we have extra food, we hook them up and have formed a friendship. We’re all people here. We have never had anything stolen or anything.
How do you get the cart to the corner?
We hitch it to our 89 E-class Mercedes. It is quite a sight. We looked all over the country for a tow hitch, and found only one, and it was in Maine. We totally lucked out, and it was meant to be.
You’re such a nice dude. How do you handle the nit and grit of “business”?
When we first started this business, my girlfriend and I were in need of funds. And so we started the cart with a sort of desperate type of mentality, where we were really wanting to find customers so we can continue to operate the cart, but what happened was that people could see that selfish element inside of us and made us realize that was a problem. The food cart changed our whole outlook. You have to be committed to the gift of serving people good food and enjoying their company and thinking about what we can offer them rather than ourselves. After this, business completely changed. Serendipitous things would happen where money would start to flow from different places. We are here because we love the people; we are not here for ourselves.
So you are no longer going to be running the cart?
I’m passing on the food-cart torch to my good friend Patrick [Maguire]. I’m embarking on different endeavors, and my girlfriend, Stephanie, will be doing some traveling. I run a philosophy club out of my house, and I will definitely be part of it still, but not as much as I have been. It’s all about evolving. Patrick has been working the cart for a while now, and he will make us proud.