A few years ago, Pink Tank's David Mueller was working sales, doing well and able to pay all of his bills -- but he wasn't satisfied. "I was really unhappy not spending time with my family, so I decided to get out of sales and start a business," he explains. "I wasn't sure what, but I wanted to set my own hours, and I decided to chase the dream, do what I love, and sacrifice money for happiness."
That dream turned out to be a gourmet food truck -- and after convincing his wife, Lisa, to chase it with him, they sold their other business and bought an old bread truck.
But that was just the first step, because Mueller had to rebuild the truck inside and out, including the plumbing, the wiring and the electrical; he also had to install the concession windows. But along the way, he forged a bond with the truck.
"I built it," he says. "We came a long way -- and we have a relationship because of it."
Lisa Mueller had an equal hand in the development of the Pink Tank. Using her background in marketing, she focused on the design of the truck as well as the feel of the entire Pink Tank experience. The goal was to make people look at it and say, "What is that?" -- to make a truck that would be the life of the party.
Developing the menu was just as involved. "Most people start with a menu in mind -- they say, I'm going to build this truck and sell this food," says Mueller. "When we started, I had no idea what we would sell."
In fact, Mueller had never had a job in a kitchen before, but he knew he wanted to make traditional street food with an emphasis on confort fare, but with a twist. And after playing around with all kinds of dishes, the couple decided to focus on breakfast. "We basically wanted breakfast for dinner," he says. "I have specific breakfast items that I love: pancakes, french toast, weird combos. I tried a stuffed french toast, then had a hamburger idea. When we tested and felt they were perfect, we didn't touch them again."
Pink Tank opened for business with a whopping two menu items in the spring of 2011.
Now, with a couple of years under their belt, the Muellers -- including their daughter Jaidyn, who often works in the truck -- have produced several must-have items, including "The Benz," an eggs Benedict-inspired burger that is served on a fresh, toasty croissant, and the sought-after chicken and waffles, which are fried chicken legs topped with crispy bacon crumbles, caramel-maple syrup and hot sauce ice cream. And then there's the "F-Bomb," a hot dog smothered in eggs and cheddar atop buttery, caramel-laden french toast. That food was enough to earn Pink Truck the Best Food Truck award in the Best of Denver 2013.
But Pink Tank's most interesting feature is the party that comes with it, a fiesta that includes blaring music, a bullhorn and flame-throwing mechanisms that launch fireballs from the roof -- all created as a way to bring in people during the colder months. "The need to attract the late- night crowd made us turn into party animals," Mueller says. "We knew we had to find new ways to captivate that audience."
The end result is that Mueller feels like he's living the dream -- and in turn, he has a new philosophy. "Find what you want to do, and do it right," he says. "Make yourself happy."
To find out where Pink Tank will be, visitpinktank.co. (It's set to be at Civic Center Eats on Tuesdays, but not Thursdays.)
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.