The [K]art with Heart
Cyclists and coffee go together like peas and carrots. Cowgirl Bike Courier has been fortunate enough to be associated with Chromatic Cafe, home of the Bay Area’s (and now, the country’s) best coffee, and have thoroughly enjoyed the relationship and community we’ve helped foster together.
When we caught wind of KARTMA, we were intrigued, if not a bit curious. The Street Cafe That's Ending Homelessness is a humongous claim, even in the heart of Silicon Valley. Through a successful IndieGoGo campaign, Downtown Streets Team was able to kick off its first social enterprise and take KARTMA from a simple idea to a stunning reality.
Of course, running a new small business is never as simple as it seems.
We had the pleasure of talking shop with KARTMA’s Project Manager, Rob Sanchez. A man of many hats blessed with a heart of gold, Rob voiced to us the same fears and concerns so many small business owners come to realize in their first year.
“We had no idea what to expect when it came time to jump through hoops within the County Health Code.”
The Health Code for Santa Clara County is VERY strict. Street vendors are generally frowned upon, and are expected to be held to the same standards as food trucks. This includes oversized sinks connected to running hot and cold water.
“The Mayor sent a letter of recommendation to help facilitate our permit application with the City for operating as a street vendor.”
Bureaucracy is a tedious beast. Even after clearing County Health Code, you still need to schedule a review with the corresponding City Health Department.
“Even now, we can only operate on private property if we want to stay open during peak hours.”
Like the County, San Jose's food laws and regulations are not favorable to street vendors. See above mention about corresponding standards.
“I don’t want to think of what would have happened to the project if we didn’t have the support of our community.”
Despite all of the above misgivings, the people of San Jose have been VERY vocal about their support for KARMTA.
“We can’t even begin to fathom how we’re going to deliver all of our IndieGoGo rewards.”
If only there was some sort of local bike messenger service...
There is no doubt in our minds that KARTMA is creating good in the world. They will continue to fight an uphill battle in the next year as they navigate city permitting and obscure health codes. Despite these, setbacks, they are well on their way to expanding to a second, mobile cart. With a team consisting of only four individuals, it’s nothing short of remarkable what they’ve been able to accomplish in just the past few months. It’s because of this work ethic and dedication to their mission that we decided to throw our hat in the ring.
“We would be happy to handle your IndieGoGo deliveries for you.”
With our cargo bike fully functional again, we hit the road with 80 drops reaching from South San Jose to Palo Alto. There were times where we found ourselves drenched by the torrential downpour of El Niño. There were times when we were required to travel deep into the Los Gatos Hills. Through it all, we continued with grins on our faces and a fire in our hearts.
KARTMA Cafe is the street cafe that’s ending homelessness. Their mission; to create jobs for the homeless population, revitalize public spaces, and empower the community through their unique social enterprise.
It has been a pleasure and delight to partner with Ron and his team; bringing their own personal blend of locally roasted coffee to the masses of Silicon Valley. If you happen to be in Downtown San Jose and find yourself hankering for a hot cup of joe, make a special trip to KARTMA on the corner of Santa Clara and Market. Be sure and tell them Cowgirl Bike Courier sent you!
Thank you Kartma for being the #kartwithaheart.