Have Booze, Will Travel
After only a year in business, Tap Truck NOLA has become the latest must-have for any event.
When Lenaye Doussan moved to New Orleans from California five years ago — her wife’s family has lived in New Orleans for seven generations — she said she was struck by the cookie-cutter, “one size fits all” bar options at weddings and events.
In an effort to bring something new, and eco-friendly, to the festivities, she partnered with a restaurant she loved, Crescent
City BBQ, in January 2019 to launch Tap Truck NOLA with the goal of offering a movable celebration with (liquid) fun on tap. Owned by CCBBQ, Tap Truck NOLA serves as the official beverage provider for the restaurant, but is managed and operated by Doussan who has been working hard to spread the party around the city whenever and wherever she can.
Like a food truck, but for alcohol, Tap Trucks (there are currently two) are specially outfitted antique trucks that arrive to any event stocked with high quality, high-end alcohol — and some booze-free options — served in an eco-friendly way.
“New Orleans is a city that is always looking to party,” Doussan said. “We wanted to bring something to the city it had never seen before and do it in a very eco-conscious way. Pouring draft allows us to leave practically no footprint; our kegs are reusable, we pour with compostable cups and we don’t require a generator or power to run the system.”
The idea has been a fast hit. After only one year in business, Doussan is currently booking events one year out that range from local weddings to corporate events in the greater New Orleans area and as far out as Lafayette. The trucks rent for a minimum of three hours for $250 an hour if alcohol is purchased separately through Tap Truck, or $350 an hour if a customer chooses to provide their own.
But what about the lines? How can one truck serve a large event in a timely manner? Doussan said it’s all about the taps.
“Speed of service really sets us apart,” she said. “The last thing anyone wants to do after sitting through an hour [wedding] Mass is wait for a drink. Pouring from taps allows us to serve faster because there are no wine bottles to open or bottles to pop — we just keep pouring. There are almost 2.5 cases of wine per stainless keg; that’s a lot of cork, glass, and cardboard we’re saving from the landfill. Plus, draft tastes better and you are going to have the same taste from the first to 100th glass.”
While the beverages are great, it’s the trucks that sell this concept.
“We have two trucks, both are 1951 panel trucks, but one is a Chevrolet and the other a GMC,” Doussan said. “‘Sandy,’ our original, is a neutral tan color, and ‘Beau’ [added in August] is a flashy, two-tone of pearl and cobalt blue. Both have fully restored V8 engines, air conditioning, and a special suspension designed to withstand the weight of the kegs and survive our local streets — the latter two being absolutely essential.”
According to Doussan, no age or gender is immune to the trucks’ charms.
“Pouring from a beautifully restored, antique truck brings such a blend of emotions from people. Most are just in awe, and some have strong nostalgia, while others have never gotten to see a car this old. You’re not just walking up to a bar, you’re having an experience. We pride ourselves on being a business for everyone. Women love the trucks just as much as men,” she said.
Each truck is specially outfitted to provide as many options as possible for any type of event with 50 to 1,000 guests — even ones where no alcohol is desired. Tap Truck is fully licensed and insured, with the proper ATC permit, allowing the company to source all kegged beverages distributed in Louisiana.
“The trucks have six taps from which we can pour any beverage: beer, wine, sparkling wine, craft cocktails, nonalcoholic options like cold brew coffee, kombucha, lemonade, soda, and tea,” Doussan said. “We love to feature local breweries as well as zero-proof options from French Truck Coffee, Big Easy Bucha, Citronola and Abita.”
Craft beer tops the list of most requested tap options, so Doussan works a lot with local breweries.
“Because a lot of our guests are from out of town or may be new to the craft beer scene, we offer tastings to help make the tap selection,” she said. “It’s our twist on the classic ‘cake tasting.’”
Tap Truck caters an average of 10 events per month, with seasonal fluctuations. The company saw its biggest demand during the past fall and spring.
In a kind of “come for the truck, stay for the service,” the company currently employs a staff of six, part-time “taptenders” trained to go above and beyond the call of duty.
“All of our employees are knowledgeable professionals who have worked in hospitality for many years,” she said. “We don’t just pour you a drink; we are there to talk about the trucks, local breweries and even join in on the dance party.”
Given the great photo opportunities, it’s not surprising that weddings have provided the largest portion of the company’s business.
“A favorite addition is a tap handle we customize with NOLA Boards, which is perfect to pull the couple’s signature cocktail,” said Doussan.
In addition to memorable wedding events, Doussan and her team have put together made-to-order corporate events across the area. The ability to literally drive the bar to almost any location has made for some especially interesting set-ups.
“One of my favorite events was a corporate event in Jean Lafitte National Park for the Sacramento Kings organization,” she said. “Sandy was pulled right up to the swamp and we were pouring beer, wine and hurricanes as the guests returned from a swamp tour. There was a huge crawfish boil going, and it was just so cool to be pouring in such a remote location. I get asked all the time, ‘Does it drive?’ ‘Do you need a generator/power?’ and it’s so fun to watch people’s faces as I tell them, ‘No. We just pulled right up here!’”
New Orleans is a city that is always looking to party. We wanted to bring something to the city it had never seen before and do it in a very eco- conscious way. Lenaye Doussan, co-founder and manager of Tap Truck NOLA