Mac ‘n’ cheese goes mobile

While cooking 30 to 40 pounds of pasta a day is a feat in itself, Brian Arnoff is making a living off the dish.

Arnoff has been running CapMac, one of D.C.’s newest meals-on-wheels trucks for the past three months, and has generated a stable following of hungry fans, ready for a cheesy lunch.

The truck owner said he always loved pasta and knew he wanted to go into the food industry for years. He decided to set up shop in the District due to his family’s affinity for the location – both his mother and older brother are GW graduates.

But starting a food truck in D.C. isn’t as easy as boiling macaroni. Arnoff sailed through the food preparation side of the operation, but was surprised by the amount of paperwork that goes into starting a small business.

“I’ve worked in restaurants since I was 14, so I knew it was going to be a lot of hours,” he said. “Doing all the cooking is easy, but it’s doing all of the management stuff and the accounting… figuring all of that out on your own is not that simple.”

Once the paperwork was solved, Arnoff focused on his real passion. With the help of Victoria Harris, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and Arnoff’s only employee, the two give special care to each item on CapMac’s menu. They often work 12 hours a day, six days a week.

“We house grind all of our meats,” Harris explains. “The Bolognese, for example, probably takes six hours from start to finish.”

When they’re not spending time preparing food, Arnoff and Harris are reaching out to potential customers via social media sites like Twitter. CapMac has embraced the site as its main form of advertisement. Harris’ interest in food marketing has been helpful in maintaining CapMac’s tweets.

“The first day we were on Twitter, we got 400 followers. That was back in August, before I even moved down here,” Arnoff said. “People were like ‘When are you moving down here?’ and I was like ‘I don’t know!’ “

With over 3,500 followers,@CapMacDC provides customers with menu updates and truck locations on a day-to-day basis. The popular new risotto rice pudding with roasted banana and nutella cream has been a big hit, he said, and customers can find out via twitter when the dessert sells out, which it has done every day since it was introduced.

Arnoff says he has some concern that food trucks will become outlawed in the area, as many local eateries are fighting to ban the business-stealing trucks from D.C. streets.

“I’m trying to open a retail store. We’ll see if the political situation works out. In retrospect, I think I was crazy to do this in the first place,” the 23-year-old said.

While CapMac is Arnoff’s treasure, the owner doesn’t have a problem trying out food from other food trucks or getting to know his competition.

“One day, we were parked next to the lobster truck and they brought us a couple of lobster rolls. Basically, I think we’ve met everybody that’s out by now,” he said.

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