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Don & Jake McPeck, Mess Hall Canteen

Thanks to Opportunity Fund for sharing Don and Jake’s story!

Don McPeck started his business with only an idea. His gourmet food truck, Mess Hall Canteen, got started thanks to The Food Network. An appearance on the show Food Truck Faceoff gave Mess Hall Canteen a vehicle—in more ways than one.

Don and his son Jake drew on their dreams and goals of starting a business together based on Don’s military service and Jake’s expertise as a chef. They took their idea for mess hall styled munchies to Food Network’s show in 2014 and won the two-day competition against another food truck in Venice Beach.

Their prize was a one-year lease on the custom-built truck provided by the competition. After the lease was up, Don needed financing to purchase the truck. Their truck came from food truck manufacturer Kareem Carts, one of Opportunity Fund’s food truck manufacturer and vendor partners. Kareem Carts connected Don to Opportunity Fund to talk financing.

“Opportunity Fund helped us continue our business,” Don said. “We didn’t have the money to buy the truck outright. Opportunity Fund made it happen for us.”

Their loan consultant Salvador Lopez started working with Don in June 2016 to secure the $77,000 loan he needed to purchase his truck. Don and Salvador working together was the perfect pairing.

“Salvador made it really easy to get financing,” Don said. “It was almost seamless. The next thing we knew, the loan was approved.”

Mess Hall Canteen’s food speaks for itself, with loaded tater tots and stacked grilled cheese sandwiches that are almost larger than life. Don credits their success not just to Chef Jake’s impeccable palate, but also to a social media blitz that put Mess Hall Canteen on the map.

“Opportunity Fund gave us the ability to continue our business. It’s nice that organizations like Opportunity Fund take veterans into consideration and help them realize their dreams,” Don said.

With his career in public service, Don knows that it’s hard for veterans to catch a break. So he and Jake make sure to take care of fellow military veterans. Mess Hall Canteen has a priority to employ veterans and donates their tip jar and t-shirt sales to charities that support service members. Their mission is to “serve over-the-top flavors while bringing recognition to the personal needs of our past and present military members.”