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New food truck brings coffee, baked goods, and message of regrowth

Sarah Renner is hoping to open the Little Tree Wandering Cafe by mid-June
The Little Tree Wandering food truck

When Sarah Renner moved into her Cambridge family home 13 years ago, there was a distinct lack of trees. After living there for a few years, they decided to plant a Japanese Maple in their yard.

The tree grew steadily at first, but eventually stopped growing altogether. Not dead, but not growing, they wondered if they should remove it since it wasn’t thriving. 

“Well, apparently the tree heard us, because it almost immediately grew an enormous single branch pointing right up to the sky. It was as if the tree wanted to tell us that it wasn't done yet; that we should give it time,” Renner said. 

Today the tree is still there, thriving, and “serving as a reminder that sometimes growth isn’t immediately obvious, and that good things take time.” 

The food truck Renner plans to open this summer is named The Little Tree Wandering Cafe in honour of their Japanese Maple, reminding her to “to keep reaching, even when it doesn't look like I'm getting anywhere.”

The story behind the name paints an accurate description of her current situation: opening a new business in the middle of a pandemic.

She was initially supposed to get the trailer in April, and planned on being up and running by the middle of May. However, because of shipping delays, she still hasn’t received the trailer, and is now hoping to open in mid-June. 

For nearly two decades, Renner has worked as a librarian, though owning her own business is something she’s always dreamed of. 

Unable to work during the pandemic, she found herself having a lot of free time -- so she began to take online courses and started seriously considering opening a food truck. 

A lifelong lover of coffee shops and baking, it seemed only natural for Renner to sell a variety of coffee, tea and baked goods.

“I'm excited about it, and I think it's the right choice for me. But I left a job that I've been doing for a long time, so it's definitely scary to just take that leap,” she said.

In the meantime, she’s been selling her baked goods online, working out of a rental kitchen. 

“That's kind of this one nice thing, that I could do the baking before I got the trailer, because all the baking is going to be done off-site,” she said. 

While the pandemic has been difficult for food truck owners since their main sources of profit, like festivals, have been non-existent, Renner believes she has an advantage coming into the industry right now. 

“I think it's probably easier knowing what I'm getting into,”  she said, noting that she knows some people who opened restaurants and food trucks prior to the pandemic, and have had to scramble to change everything.

“So I think being in the middle of it and starting with those restrictions is a lot easier. There will eventually be more festivals and more things that I can do, as opposed to all of a sudden, there's nothing,” she said. 

Renner also said that she thinks she will be in a better position than some other food trucks because of what she sells. 

“Because I sell baked goods and coffee, I can sort of go all day, as opposed to a lot of places that are just a lunch and dinner kind of thing,” she said. “I'm hoping that I'm going to be able to do lots of festivals in the future, but really it's the day-to-day coffee service that I'm hoping will be my main source of income.”

She’s working with a coffee roaster in Hamilton and tea company in Kitchener, and is trying to keep all the ingredients for everything as local as possible. They will have iced tea, hot tea, drip coffee, and espresso-based drinks. As for baked goods, expect to see varieties of muffins, scones, and cookies. 

When the truck opens, she’s planning on hitting up businesses for breakfast and staff appreciation options, and will be on the KW Food Truck rotation. 

To order baked goods or stay up to date on when the truck will open, you can visit The Little Tree Wandering Cafe’s Facebook page

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