I had the joy and honor of picking up the boxes of food from Emoji’s Grilled Cheese for the weekly pass-out for Austin Shift Meal. Emoji’s Grilled Cheese is in the courtyard on 1818 E. 12th Street.
Hope Green was in her food truck listening to old classics while flipping sizzling grilled cheeses that smelled of summertime heaven. She filled the little boxes to the brim with a fresh hot grilled cheese sandwich, blue corn tortilla chips, salsa and a chocolate chip cookie. A perfectly well rounded meal. Once I packed my car with the goods, Hope gifted me an extra grilled cheese hot off the grill. I bit into it and closed my eyes as the sound of the crunch of the grilled cheese reverberated through my senses. A symphony of flavors from the fresh sourdough lightly kissed with a bit olive oil and a bit of heat, melted mozzarella that formed a slight melted cheese crust along the edges of the sandwich, and the star of the show, bright, glorious summertime pesto of which Hope revealed she had made from scratch that morning at 5am. Complete with a few slices of tomato to bring it all together. She sent me on my way, both car and stomach happily full, ready to take on the crowds at the South Congress Hotel.
Hope is a creator and entrepreneur. “The more challenging, the more attractive,” she explained in an interview with Austin Shift Meal producer, Mandi Nelson, and myself. She worked in the Real Estate business for 16 years until the devastating economic crash of 2008. It was during these 16 years Hope established a mobile notary company to train and empower women to start their own business. Post-recession, Hope trained as a photographer for four years after which she discovered was a tough businesses to make a steady living from.
One afternoon, she was talking with her nine-year-old daughter and brainstorming ideas of a different businesses when her daughter exclaimed, “If you sold food, you would probably sell something every day!” And Emojis Grilled Cheese was born. Hope started experimenting in the kitchen finding inspiration from classic comfort foods, soul foods, and incorporating those flavors into high quality, delicious, crunchy, warm, cozy grilled cheeses. She is now entering her ninth year of business with Emojis Grilled Cheese. It is not the money that keeps her going every day. “It’s the bigger picture,” she explained. “What am I doing to contribute to the bigger picture? I want Emojis to be more than just a food truck. I want it to be a means of inspiring youth to follow their dreams.”
Hope explained her shifting focus to expand Emojis as a brand beyond the food truck. “We are looking to set up a culinary program for teens who have been released from detention centers or group homes as a means of empowerment while providing them experience to put on their resumes and self-sufficiency. These are the skills they will learn that usually get lost in the midst of instability. We are wanting to use the food truck as a revenue model of starting and maintaining your own business. We want to give these kids real world experiences such as taking phone calls, putting together events, making mistakes and owning up to them.”
It is only fitting this woman’s name is Hope.
You can find Hope and the Emoji's Grilled Cheese Truck on 1818 E. 12th Street, their new semi-permanent location where you can indulge in the undeniable comfort and pleasure of a homemade grilled cheese sandwich.