Archive | December, 2011

Meals on wheels

12 Dec

You can’t miss Lizzie’s Lunchbox. The hot-pink food truck is a bright burst of color parked between a video store and a carwash in northwest Austin, Texas.

Lizzie’s belongs to Iowa State alumni Lisa (’86 business administration) and Keith (’84 computer engineering) Allen. Keith is a lead member of the AT&T technology staff, and Lisa was a technical writer when she decided to join the Austin food-truck movement.

“Food trucks are a huge trend in Austin,” Lisa (a.k.a. “Lizzie”) said, “and it continues to grow.”

Lizzie’s Lunchbox specializes in “Tex-Med,” a healthy combination of Texas- and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine: pita wraps, hummus, kabobs, sandwiches, salads, soups, and desserts.

“We always wanted to own our own business,” Lisa said. “I was looking for a niche, and sitting at a desk all day is not my thing.”

Lisa and Keith embarked on the adventure together, starting with buying an old tool truck in Dallas, with plans for a do-it-yourself renovation.

“This was July 2010, the middle of a scorching Texas summer, and on the drive back from Dallas the engine blew,” Lisa said. “It was then we got our first reality check about what kind of adventure we were truly on. Keith and a friend rebuilt the engine on weekends, then Keith gutted the truck, designed and executed the layout, including plumbing, electric, and gas, and today I have the finest gourmet restaurant on wheels around!”

Lizzie’s is open six days a week, serving lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Lisa does most of the cooking herself in her ultra-efficient kitchen.

The former Iowans (the Allens both grew up near Oskaloosa) moved to Austin in 1995.

“We love it here,” Lisa said. “We can’t imagine living anywhere else.”

Check out Lizzie’s website. It makes my mouth water!

Other duties as assigned

5 Dec

Kara Fuhlbrugge’s bachelor’s degree in graphic design took her to Austin, Texas, immediately after graduating from Iowa State in 2003. The job – designing watches for children and adults – was with Seiko Instruments. After a few years, she moved to a marketing firm where she worked on projects for a variety of local clients.

But she wanted a job she could be passionate about. And she found it in Special Olympics Texas. As the only graphic designer for the organization that provides year-round sports training and competition for 40,000 kids and adults with intellectual disabilities, Kara designs banners, T-shirts, billboards – and just about everything else.

“I love it when I see people wearing the T-shirts I designed,” Kara said. “I went crazy one day when I was driving on I-35 toward Tulsa and saw a billboard I designed. I started screaming and turned the car around so I could take a picture.”

Kara grew up in Farmington, Iowa. “I started out at ISU as a small-town Iowa girl, but I’m proud of where I am today, making a difference in the lives of thousands of people with intellectual disabilities,” she said.

In addition to her design work, Kara’s “other duties as assigned” include working athletics competitions and other events – like the fundraiser in November that allowed participants to rappel down the side of the InterContinental Hotel in downtown Austin for a contribution to Special Olympics Texas of $1,000 or more.

Kara’s role: Congratulate rappellers. Take their pictures. Get them to act excited. Jump up and down. Meet a guy dressed like Batman.

She never stopped smiling.