Stony Plain couple's food truck called up to join the NHL bubble
'We’re on day five now and every day has been getting busier and busier'
Charles and Brianne Roberge were supposed to launch their Guilt Free Eats food truck this past spring, but COVID-19 put the brakes on that.
After waiting for months, they finally got their 2006 Freightliner Utilimaster on the road and began taking it out, mainly to events around Stony Plain.
"The beginning of March we picked up the truck before everything hit," said Brianne Roberge, who is a registered nurse and nutrition coach.
"We opened up in mid-June and we'd only been open for about a month when this opportunity struck, so it's been kind of a crazy whirlwind."
That opportunity came via a phone call last Monday. The NHL looked into what was available in Edmonton for vegan and plant-based options, and it found Guilt Free Eats.
'Busier and busier'
The NHL contacted the Oilers Entertainment Group, which then asked the Roberges to join the bubble to help feed nearly 700 hockey players and 300 support staff.
The couple jumped at the chance, becoming one of three food trucks located in the sealed-off area beside the JW Marriott.
"We had to get some equipment repairs, so it was three very fast-paced days to get in here and parked for last Saturday," said Brianne Roberge.
The Roberges and their two employees are allowed to leave the bubble but get tested daily.
"We're on day five now, and every day has been getting busier and busier as more people know about us inside there, so we've been running pretty much for 14 hours a day."
The Roberges' menu changes daily. They offer everything from lasagne to stir-fry, a variety of muffins and healthy smoothies.
Everything is gluten-free and the ingredients are all organic and sourced locally.
Brianne Roberge has celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that prevents her from eating anything that includes gluten, and that became the vision behind the business.
"We're plant-based at home and all healthy is what we eat."
Less than a week in, the couple says the response from people in the bubble has been overwhelming.
The Vancouver Canucks, the Dallas Stars, the Winnipeg Jets and even the hometown Oilers all frequent the truck routinely.
"There's a lot of players that were looking for plant-based and vegan options," said Charles Roberge, who has been enjoying getting to know the players on a different level.
"Usually the girls in the truck are oblivious to it, because with the mask you can't tell who's who, but when they get close enough you can see on their badge who they are. After they see who it is, then they get nervous."
Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl came by on the first day. Charles Roberge said his favourite player, Zack Kassian, even posed for a picture.
For now, the Roberges are enjoying their three-week contract, which they say will help pay some bills on their $75,000 investment.
If the demand continues there's a chance they could get a contract extension all the way to the Stanley Cup final in October.
"No way did we expect something like this to hit us, especially this late in the season," said Charles.
"If you're not booked into somewhere, it's hard to get in, so this is definitely is going to save our truck because we can run next year and keep going strong."