On a spring day while Covid restrictions were still in place, Kerry Lofy was driving to the Eastern Sierra to ski. As he went through Minden, he spotted an old Model T truck on the side of the road near some farmland. The sight sparked some ideas in him.

“I talked about it with a buddy when we were hiking and camping for the week or two we were out there,” he said. Lofy, a bartender who lives in Truckee half the year, envisioned turning the car into a mobile bar so he could serve drinks at events. “I wasn’t really working that much because everything was closed during Covid. And so I put an offer on it. My buddy was getting married at the end of summer, so I’m like, ‘cool, this will be a good summer project.’” That cool summer project resulted in Stanley, the revitalized Model T that serves as a bar for his business, Tahoe Tap Truck.

While Lofy was renovating his antique car, Zoe Richards, who was born and raised in Truckee and now lives in Reno, was undertaking something very similar with a 1964 Go-lite trailer she calls The Old Fashioned. “We purchased the trailer as it was falling off the wheels right before Covid. It became an unplanned Covid project to flip it and build it into what it is now,” Richards said. “As soon as restrictions were lifted for private parties and weddings, we launched the business.”

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Similarly, Tahoe Mobile Bar owners Ashley Anderson and her husband, Porter Holcomb, who reside in Truckee, revitalized a 1981 single-horse trailer they call the Stirrup Cup Mobile Saloon. “My husband put a lot of time and hands-on effort into the trailer,” Anderson said. “He did all of it by himself, so it was a project made out of love.”

TAHOE TAP TRUCK: Kerry Lofy converted an old Model T into a mobile bar. Photos courtesy Nick Cahill

These business owners’ endeavors are definitely a labor of love, driven by the desire to put their industry knowledge to work. The mobile bars have allowed them to use their backgrounds in restaurants, bars, events, and the beverage industry to carve out a station for themselves without having to open a brick-and-mortar bar or restaurant or deal with the headache of obtaining a liquor license.

Lofy has over 10 years of bartending experience at Truckee and North Tahoe restaurants. His industry connections helped him start and grow his business. Anderson and Holcomb, who met at Caliente in Kings Beach, also worked in restaurants for over 10 years. “We started at the same restaurant. We were servers, bartenders, and managers,” Anderson said. She eventually worked in marketing for a group of restaurants around the lake, while Holcomb went into fine dining. “And [the restaurant industry] was something that we both had experience in, but we wanted freedom,” Anderson said. “We live in Tahoe and wanted to be able to enjoy where we live. And this was the next thing that would work for us.”

Richards dreamed of starting her own business after working in the event industry for over a decade. She juggles her mobile bar business with several other commitments — she is the partnerships manager for Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, among others. “That’s my full-time job,” she said. “I also ski patrol at Mt. Rose and am the executive director of a nonprofit female mountain biking collective.”

THE OLD FASHIONED: Zoe Richards breathed new life into the camper she turned into a mobile bar. Photo courtesy Allison Keasal Mock

These entrepreneurs are also motivated by the desire to provide unique and memorable experiences. “The goal of the trailer was just to do something that we enjoyed, that we had experience in, and that would give us a better quality of life and bring more meaning to people’s lives,” Anderson said. “But also, instead of just serving them a meal at a restaurant, we want to take care of people on their wedding day.”

Richards believes that the mobile bar trend is here to stay. “It seemed like there was a dip [in the wedding industry] for a while with people eloping and not doing large gatherings,” she said. “And now it feels like it’s back in full force. I think people want to get together with their community and celebrate; that just seems to be growing. So that makes the mobile bar business all the more necessary.”

TAHOE MOBILE BAR owners Porter Holcomb and Ashley Anderson work together to make unique drinks for their clients. Photo courtesy Tahoe Mobile Bars

While the mobile bar allows some freedom from working in restaurants, Lofy emphasizes that it’s not easy managing backend requirements. “It’s just a lot of work. There’s insurance, upkeep, maintenance, and permits and regulations,” he said.

Tahoe Mobile Bar, Tahoe Tap Truck, and the Old Fashioned Mobile Bar work with party hosts to create custom drink menus and add a unique touch to corporate events, bachelor and bachelorette parties, birthday celebrations, and more, with weddings being the most popular. A unique service offered by the Tahoe Tap Truckee is a mixology class, which he says is popular for small parties. He enjoys being able to give his clients an experience they may have never had before.

Because the businesses don’t have licenses to sell alcohol, clients purchase their own alcohol and pay a flat fee for the mobile bar service. “They’re hiring us as a service and then we provide all the mixers and the cocktail plan and the consultation and everything, and then the actual purchase comes through the client,” Richards said.

The mobile bars are currently booking for the summer season, with most parties taking reservations a few months in advance. But last-minute scheduling isn’t out of the question.

“Every booking is different and especially spring and summer they fill up fast,” Anderson said. “But for us, if we’re available, I’ll take it.”

Author

  • Tiffany Connolly

    Tiffany Connolly joined Moonshine Ink in 2023, six years after leaving her teaching career to focus on writing. She owns a small marketing business in Truckee and is thrilled to be writing stories that make an impact. Tiffany holds a bachelor's in art history from UCLA and master's in education from Pepperdine University. She loves fast and flowy mountain bike trails and movie nights with her family.

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