After two years of negotiations and changing laws, the owners of the Rayback Collective will provide a home for budding food trucks in Boulder County.
by Claire Woodcock
It’s a sweltering afternoon when I roll up to the Rayback on 28th and Valmont.
“Let’s go inside!” says Hank Grant, President and co-founder of the Rayback. He’s offering me an early peek at the new, anticipated location.
Grant leads me into this roomy 5000 sq. ft. hall, where other co-owners are working with the guys from Elevated Design in Denver. They’re busy and pay me no mind. You can hear the saws.
The Rayback now stands on the site of the former family-owned Rayback Plumbing building from the ‘70s. Grant tells me that this was the place for your multicolored plumbing needs. The building was owned by Marion Rayback, “A veteran who really wanted to embrace being a part of the community and serving it well,” says Grant.
He wanted to honor that vibe. By that point, most people still knew this project as the Boulder Food Park, the Boulder Food Truck Park, or any other slight variation of the two. Through little undertakings like crowdfunding and changing the laws, Grant calls landing on the former “Rayback Plumbing” supply building a “happy accident.”
“We were like “Huh, Rayback, that’s kind of an interesting name…” says Grant.
So they adopted the family name, in honor of the former owner. Grant says Marion Rayback’s son was in full surprise and support of the new Rayback business, including its lofty environmental goals.
“What we’re trying to do is be the first zero-waste food park in the country,” says Grant.
In order to meet that goal, the Rayback needs to defer 70 percent of its waste from landfills. Grant can explain the methodology behind the madness better than I can:
“We’re getting all the equipment, all the utensils, all the glassware that the food trucks need to make sure it’s eco-friendly. Once we get open, we’ll call the city in and make sure we can meet that 70 percent.”
Grant believes getting that designation from the City of Boulder is something the community would appreciate and rally behind. His other big goal is to make the Rayback one of the big staples of Boulder County.
“When people come to town and they want to know what’s in Boulder that Boulder does. You go hike Chautauqua, you go to the Flatirons, where do you want to go eat and have a beer? We want to be that place that is that staple in the community,” says Grant.
Grant says that he and Matt Patrick, another co-founder, found inspiration for their zero-waste concept in cities like Portland, San Francisco and Salt Lake City. He says these cities have managed to enhance sales by about 20 percent. Think gas stations, hotels and other neighboring restaurants.
“We’re not looking to take business from somebody else. What we want to do is drive more traffic to this side of Boulder and really make it a neighborhood thing,” says Grant.
But really, with so many food trucks parked around town already, wouldn’t the Rayback Collective be encroaching on brick and mortar restaurants? Grant doesn’t think so. He actually sees the Rayback as an opportunity provider for food trucks to live out their dreams and start their own food trucks.
“It’s not just us that may be starting a business; Now we provide an opportunity for 50 or 60 other small businesses to grow their business and their brand and what they’re about. That’s just so rewarding,” says Grant.
Grant says that until the team brought their idea for a food truck park to City Council, it was really hard for food trucks to operate in Boulder. For the last two years, Grant and his team have been paving the way for Boulder food trucks to park within 150 feet of brick-and-mortar restaurants. When the Rayback opens up, they’ll house four food trucks on rotation.
“It’s not perfect, and we screwed up along the way, made some mistakes, probably made some people upset but at the core, at the heart, we want to be here, we want to serve the community, we want this to be the place that Boulder loves and appreciates,” says Grant.
The Rayback is set to open sometime in mid-July. From that point, it’ll operate from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays.