Kristine Melum has turned an old transport bus into a mobile lunch bus.
“I bought it in January. I found it on Craig’s List,” she said. “As I could afford it, I revamped it into a mobile kitchen.”
The result is her new business called Wrap N’ Roll Etc.
Melum drives the bus to locations in Waupaca, Stevens Point and Plover, where she then offers a lunch menu.
“I always wanted to own my own business,” she said.
The Iola native has worked in the food industry for about 32 years.
She has worked at businesses throughout the area and has been a bartender, a cook and a manager.
“I wanted to go out on my own,” Melum said, “but I didn’t want brick and mortar.”
She wanted the flexibility of being able to set her hours and also where she worked.
Many of her friends work in industrial parks and often tell her it is difficult to find somewhere close by to go to for lunch.
“That is kind of what prompted me,” she said.
Before Melum bought the bus, she first considered buying a restaurant boat.
That was about two years ago.
However, the restaurant boat was in Madison and was a weekend only business.
On top of that, she knew she would need a different vehicle to pull it.
The idea remained in the back of her mind.
After Melum found the bus, her initial thought was to go directly to businesses.
However, because some have contracts with specific food vendors, she decided to change her approach.
She drove around area industrial parks and counted the number of businesses in them and the number of cars in their parking lots.
Melum also paid attention to visibility.
In Waupaca, she talked to Aaron Jenson, the city’s parks and recreation director, about setting up in Riverside Park on Wednesdays. She received permission to do so.
Melum also approached the Buyer’s Guide in the city’s industrial park and received permission to be in its west parking lot on Fridays.
Wrap N’ Roll is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. both days.
On Tuesday, Melum sets up in Plover, and on Thursday, she is in Stevens Point. Monday is her floating day.
“In large cities, it’s known as a street vendor,” she said. “That’s not what I’m going for.”
Melum’s menu includes wraps, salads and sandwiches. “I have seen the trends change and how people want to eat healthier,” she said in explaining how she came up with her menu.
She prides herself on using fresh ingredients.
Thus far, her two veggie wraps have been among the most popular items on her menu.
“The ‘Etc.’ means I can adapt to other things,” she said.
Wrap N’ Roll has been at festivals and will be at auctions, too.
In the winter, Melum plans to do on-site meals for a couple area businesses.
Licensed through county health departments, Melum said the Rivers Bar & Supper Club in Amherst is her service base for any food prep she cannot do in the bus.
All of her food deliveries go there as well.
The brown 1994 Ford Eldorado she works out of during the lunch hour was most recently used by a Kaukauna band when it had gigs.
“It took all summer for everything to fall together. I needed a generator built on the back. I needed an electrician, a plumber. In mid-July, I was finally up and running,” Melum said.
She said assembling the wraps, salads and sandwiches is easy.
With four meat choices, Melum said it is basically a combination of different ingredients for each of the items.
Space inside the bus is limited.
“What I bring on board – when I’m out, I’m out,” she said.
Melum encourages people to call her at 715-412-4282 to place orders and to also check the availability of menu choices. Calling ahead is also a good idea when the weather looks questionable, she says.
Tax is included in all of her prices.
Melum hopes to be able to operate the mobile lunch bus into December before doing on-site meals during the winter. She then plans to be mobile again around March.
In addition to her new business, she also has a cleaning service, which she continues to do.
Melum appreciates the support she is receiving, including from those for whom she has worked.
She welcomes feedback.
When she is driving the brown bus, Melum often gets second looks. Her neighbors were quite inquisitive as she worked on getting the business ready.
“I love the independence. I set my own hours. I’m not going to lie. It’s been very stressful. The window was on back order. But, it’s all coming together,” she said. “I’m hoping we’re going to have a super long fall and a nice winter.”