A BOOK OF PUBLIC TYPOGRAPHY
E M I LY A U S T I N
Lindsay Larickâ€™s Fresher than Fresh snow cone truck awaits customers on a warm day in September.
typography isn’t the first element to come to mind, perhaps the aromas of the kitchen, the taste of the food, or the concern of food poisoning, but not typography. In fact, typography helps to establish the environment of a food truck just as much as the delicacies themselves. With “gourmet” food trucks continuing to be a growing trend in larger cities, the wave of good food on the go has finally reached Kansas City with trucks serving up organic snow cones and Mexican treats with a twist.
A kitchen view of Port Fonda, a KC food truck owned by chef Patrick Ryan, serves up warm Mexican treats in the Power and Light district.
But the food isn’t the only gourmet element on these trucks. According to Baines and Dixon’s article “Naming Places and Defining Spaces”, typography attributes to how we respond to environments and spaces. And this statement couldn’t be truer for restaurants on the go.
The truck’s exterior needs to be eyecatching enough to grab attention from hungry customers near and far, but clear enough for customers to order the food they want in an easy, quick, and organized way. Andbecause the food truck lacks the décor of a restaurant, the typography helps set the scene and gives customers an idea of what type of food they can expect. Word choice is equally important as it can introduce a narrative element, emphasizing the charm and individuality of each truck’s story.
N O O N E CA N D E N Y how fun it is to indulge in food on wheels.
FF R R EE SS H H
H R EE SS H EE R R TT H N FF R AN HA SS N NO OW N EE SS W CCO ON
DESPITE THE CARNIVAL FARE SERVED, THE FRESHER THAN FRESH SNOW CONE TRUCK IS NO EXCEPTION TO THE ILLUSTRATIVE AND PERSONAL TYPOGRAPHY POPULAR ON GOURMET FOOD TRUCKS. THIS IS LIKELY BECAUSE OWNER LINDSAY LARICKS IS QUITE THE ILLUSTRIOUS INDIVIDUAL HERSELF. LINDSAY RECEIVED A DEGREE IN GRAPHIC DESIGN FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS BEFORE WORKING AT THE STATIONER HAMMERPRESS AND BECOMING A KEY MEMBER OF THE KANSAS CITY DESIGN SCENE. INITIALLY, LINDSAY WAS INSPIRED BY HER OWN ORGANIC GARDEN AND BEGAN EXPERIMENTING WITH FLAVORED SNOW CONES AS A WAY TO INDULGE IN HER LOVE OF FOOD. HER UNIQUE AND ALL NATURAL SYRUPS BECAME A HIT WITH FRIENDS, SO LINDSAY TOOK HER CONES ON THE ROAD AND HAS SINCE RECEIVED ONLY RAVE REVIEWS.
In addition to the usual flavors on Lindsay’s menu, she also includes a “Daredevil” flavor for more adventurous palettes. Past flavors have included agave hibiscus.
Snowie the snow cone greets customers at Lindsayâ€™s snow cone garden, near the corner of 17th and Summit Street.
Aside from her delicious snow cones, Lindsay’s truck has also garnered quite a bit of attention. Particularly, Lindsay’s side kick and mascot, Snowie the Snow Cone. Snowie sits at the corner of 17th and Summit Street to greet customers as they enter the Snow Cone Garden. Holding beautiful and bright signs handcrafted by Lindsay, Snowie gathers the crowd’s attention. Lindsay also designed a series of pins and t-shirts with clever sayings and Snowie’s likeness that the customers devour as readily as the yummy snow cones.
A view of Lindsay’s snow cone truck from the entrance of her Snow Cone Garden in Kansas City.
Lindsay Laricks has been a major player in the design scene for years, working at Hallmark, Barkley, and Hammerpress in Kansas City. Unfortunately, the life of a designer left little time for her other passion: food. The opening of Fresher Than Fresh has allowed Lindsay to get back in her garden and her kitchen.
As one approaches the quaint 1957 Shasta trailer, a hand-written menu board comes into view.
Flavors such as Blackberry Lavender, Watermelon Basil, and Lemon Prickly Pear contrast the Blue Raspberry and Cherry sugar-loaded stereotypes one expects from a snow cone stand. Beneath Lindsay’s “core” flavors sits a more adventurous option, the Daredevil Special. For the more adventurous palettes, the flavor this week was Agave Hibiscus, sweetened without sugar. The chalkboard menu is playfully adorned with doodles of snow cones and sweet, yet clear handwriting in a variety of colors.
A visual audit of Lindsayâ€™s truck includes her menu board, all natural syrups, and details of her truck.
WHEN ASKED WHAT SETS HER SNOW CONES ASIDE FROM OTHER FOOD TRUCKS, LINDSAY DISCUSSES THE ORGANIC SYRUPS, THE BIODEGRADABLE SNOW CONE CUPS, AND THE NATURALLY SWEET FLAVORS (“HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP IS THE DEVIL!”] BUT FAILS TO MENTION HER TRUCK’S SINFULLY SWEET AND LIGHT APPEARANCE. THE SHASTA LOGO AND FOUND TYPOGRAPHY ON THE TRUCK ITSELF GIVES THE ATMOSPHERE A NOSTALGIC AND RUSTIC FEELING, WHILE THE POPPY COLOR PALETTE AND ILLUSTRATIVE TYPE OF LINDSAY’S SOUVENIR BUTTONS AND BUSINESS CARDS INDICATE TO THE CUSTOMER NOTES OF THE MODERN TREATS THEY WILL SOON ENJOY. AND IF THE TYPOGRAPHY, COLOR PALETTE, AND SNOW CONES DON’T EVOKE A SENSE OF WHIMSY AND PURE DELIGHT, LINDSAY’S HAPPY-GO-LUCKY ATTITUDE CERTAINLY WILL. “KNOWING THAT WHAT I DO MAKES PEOPLE HAPPY. THAT’S THE REALLY GOOD PART.”
HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP
W ha t ’s neve r i n my k i t c he n?
FA K E B U T T E R .
PAT R I C K R YA N
Perhaps the front-runner of the Kansas
The trailer itself is breathtakingly beautiful.
City food truck scene, Port Fonda is also the
Gutted by the co-owners themselves, the result
front-runner in typography and atmosphere.
is a beautiful stainless steel body with warm
Started by KC famous chef Patrick Ryan,
wood accents. The interior is equally stunning,
Port Fonda is most known for serving up
outfitted with a large wood table and leather
delicious Mexican delights all night at the
wrap around seating area. Several candles and
Power and Light district.
a few rooster throw pillows complete the look. One would almost think they were stepping in
M A X W AT S O N
to a fine restaurant, not the back of a trailer.
Chef and Co-owner Max Watson decided to join the Port Fonda team for the fast-paced environment and sense of accomplishment that comes along with the job. Previously, Max had worked as a chef at the River Club. How’s working with master chef Patrick Ryan? Patrick fills the roles as the face and star of the business, and Max is okay with that. “I’m not that way. I’ve only been cooking for three years as opposed to twenty.”
If the food isn’t enough to get your attention, maybe chef and owner Patrick Ryan’s celebrity status will do the trick. Though originally pursuing a degree in hotel management, Ryan eventually settled at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Portland where he discovered his love for Nuevo Latino cuisine. After working at Oba Restaurante in Portland, Ryan acquired an externship with chef Rick Bayless at Frontera Grill in Chicago. Ryan spent five years working at Frontera and learned how to manage the kitchen from Bayless. “He was a celebrity chef that never acted like one”. Ryan also had his chance at becoming a celebrity chef, thanks to the Food NetDowntown Kansas City reflects off of Port Fonda’s exterior as it sits in the parking lot of The Rieger Hotel Grill and Exchange.
work show Top Chef, but after moving through several rounds, Ryan decided the experience did not feel right and abandoned the competition.
Customers peruse the vernacular menu which features gourmet tortas, tacos, and the nightly special.
IF THE DELICIOUS AROMAS SNEAKING OUT FROM THE TRAILER’S KITCHEN DON’T CATCH YOUR ATTENTION, THE TRUCK CERTAINLY WILL. COMPLETELY STAINLESS STEEL AND BEAUTIFULLY HAND-PAINTED, THE PORT FONDA TRUCK STEALS THE SCENE. THE SIGNAGE IS PAINTED LARGELY ONTO THE SIDE OF THE TRUCK WITH A BEAUTIFUL MIX OF DECORATIVE SCRIPT AND A FUNKY SANS-SERIF TYPEFACE, HAND-PAINTED BY NONE OTHER THAN LINDSAY LARICKS. CO-OWNER MAX WATSON REMEMBERS, “SHE SHOWED US A BUNCH OF TYPESET LOGOS AND DIFFERENT FONTS, BUT NONE OF IT FELT RIGHT. SO SHE JUST STARTED DRAWING ON A PIECE OF PAPER, AND THAT WAS IT. THAT’S LINDSAY’S HANDWRITING!”
LINDSAY JUST DREW ON A PIECE OF PAPER AND THAT WAS IT.
that’s her handwriting. --MAX WATSON
Port Fonda, a KC food truck owned by chef Patrick Ryan, serves up warm Mexican treats in the Power and Light district.
P AT R I C K R Y A N
With a new child on the way, Ryan and his So how did Patrick Ryan come wife moved back to to own a 27-foot long restaurant Kansas City in 2007 to on-the-go? open a 40- to 50-seat restaurant. However with two new local restaurants opening at the same time, Ryan decided to hold off on the idea of a sit-down restaurant and began working the line at Room 39 and the River Club, allowing him to continue cooking without sacrificing his food visions. After months of scouring eBay and Craigslist, he found his dream trailer. With business partner Max Watson, Ryan began to gut and redesign the trailerâ€™s interior. The focal point of the trailer is the chefâ€™s table and booth that seats six to eight diners, located in the back end. The overall look of Port Fonda is rustic yet sophisticated with hidden accents, enough to catch anyoneâ€™s eye.
Patrick Ryan is a man of many interests, cooking being only one of them. After originally pursuing a degree in hotel management, Ryan decided to move toward cooking and discovered his love for food. Ryan even auditioned for the Food Network series Top Chef, but decided late in the game that reality TV was not his calling, and returned to Kansas City. Thus Port Fonda was born.
Even more striking and rustic typography can be found on the trailer’s open door which doubles as the menu board. Planks of wood add to the charm of the vernacular, stenciled typography that informs the customer of their tasty options. Together, the trailer’s signage and the menu board set the scene for a casual yet beautifully constructed hodgepodge of flavor that can be tasted in Patrick’s food.
The menu of the food truck Port Fonda features Nuevo Latino cuisine ranging from the average taco to elaborate dishes.
Port Fonda awaits customers in the Power & Light District of Downtown Kansas City on a Saturday evening.
Port Fondaâ€™s mirrored stainless surface exhibits the reflection of Downtown Kansas City on a Saturday night.
Though the food options vary from truck to truck, one thing will remain constant; food trucks are here to stay. With the help of social networking sites like facebook and twitter, food trucks are able to post updates of specials, new menu items, and location changes in real-time for their customers. In fact, social networking sites are likely the largest contributing factor to the success of the gourmet food truck. Food trucks have also invaded the television screen thanks to “the great food truck race” on food network and the cooking channel’s “eat st.” Both shows exclusively feature food trucks and mobile food carts from all parts of the united states. Another cause for the rise in food truck popularity in recent years may also be a combination of economic and technological factors as well as street food becoming hip or chic. Food trucks of today are sought out for their affordability, food, and their nostalgia; and their popularity continues to rise.
The Airstream trailer of Port Fonda was gutted and re-designed by Patrick and Max themselves.
Content in this book comes from various interviews and casual conversations with the owners of the food trucks and their employees: Lindsay Laricks, Patrick Ryan, and Max Watson. Research was compiled through the trucks’ websites and social media platforms. Additional content was sourced from Paul Tosh’s article, “The Un-Cultured Word: Vernacular Typography and Image” and Phil Baine’s article, “Naming Places and Defining Spaces.” ALL PHOTOS WERE TAKEN BY ME USING A NIKON D40 DSLR AND THEN PROCESSED USING ADOBE PHOTOSHOP. The book is typeset in Archer and DIN.
EMILY AUSTIN VISC 402 | Fall 2011 Patrick Dooley The University of Kansas
A look at public typography, with a focus on the typography found on food trucks in Kansas City.