Ever since she was 18, AndraLea Mack has wanted to open her own food truck, an idea that for the longest time she passed off as nothing but a fun idea, a dream.
“I didn’t think I would ever actually do it,” Mack said.
But then a few years ago, while snowboarding in Alaska, Mack ran headlong into that dream. And suddenly, it didn’t seem quite so improbable.
“We were up in the mountains, and there was really nothing to eat, except if you went to the fancy restaurants,” Mack said. “But then I went down to the parking lot and there was a waffle truck there.”
A smile washes over Mack’s face as she tells the story.
“I thought that was the coolest thing ever,” she said.
Flash ahead to August when Mack opened her own food cart, one that specializes in breakfast burritos. The Mack Shack can be found at 108 E. 7th St., in Vancouver. It’s part of the fledgling Columbia Food Park, Vancouver’s only community-based food park.
The Mack Shack has been a hit since it opened. In fact, on a chilly Saturday last month, Mack’s offerings sold out before closing. If you’ve had a burrito from the Mack Shack, you might know why.
Mack, who turns 24 next month, picked up her cooking skills from watching and later working with her mother, Cindy Mack, the owner of As You Wish It, a local business that specializes in catering, lighting and décor.
“My mom, dad and brother each own a business,” Mack said. “So, we’re a very entrepreneurial family. I guess I learned the cooking side and business side from my mom, and the business side from them (father and brother).”
It was Alex Mickle, a friend of the family and the co-founder of the Columbia Food Park, who first nudged Mack toward opening a food cart specializing in breakfast burritos. Mack did the rest herself, though she had to swallow hard when it came time to sell her 2002 Subaru Forrester for a different set of wheels – her own food cart.
“I loved that car,” Mack said. “But (selling it) helped me be able to buy a lot of the things I needed, including the cart.”
Mack was on her way.
“Part of it is personality,” Mickle said. “She (Mack) delivers a great product, she meets a need that didn’t exist in the marketplace, but she does it in such a way that people want to come back. She creates repeat business. That’s just her personality. People flock to that.”
The Mack Shack offers four breakfast burritos that range in price from $9 to $9.50. There’s the Couve Delish, ABQ, Bleuy Gooey and Vegan Bean. Mack said that her most popular burrito is the Couve Delish, which is packed with eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, garlic and spinach. You can get either the rosemary steak sauce or the Shack Sauce, which is a tangy and spicy sour-cream based sauce.
Mack can also make corn taco versions of any of her burritos, and there are also quesadillas on the menu for kids, and coffee from Brewed Café and Pub.
To be sure, breakfast may never be the same – and quite possibly lunch, too. The Mack Shack, open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., is actually at its busiest during lunchtime.
“I have a really solid set of regulars, people I know who make the effort to come down here once a week to support me. And they love my burritos,” Mack said.