Serving Up Their Passion (with a Side of Gravy). Meet Lizzie Clapp & Ronnie McClive of Le Petit Poutine

Photography by Lyndsi Stoltzfus of Lyndsi Stoltzfus Photography

* Lizze & Ronnie have a podcast called FRYDAY and you can listen to their interview there too!

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
Lizzie Clapp & Ronnie McClive. We run Le Petit Poutine, a food truck company with 2 trucks. We are a seasonal business. We run April 1st - December 1st.  We do not operate during the winter, we work during the winter, mostly on planning for the busy season. We serve poutine, a French-Canadian dish. Poutine is french-fries (which we cut by hand), fresh cheese curds with homemade gravy on top.

What are you passionate about? What makes you tick?
Ronnie: What do I think makes Liz tick? Liz is a maker. She likes to create things. All her hobbies involved starting from scratch, and working her way up.  She likes to garden, she’s a bee-keeper. She finds pleasure from starting at the beginning and working all the way through a process of making/developing something.
Liz: Ronnie is a seeker- of knowledge. I think she is looking to change the local landscape. She is seeking knowledge from books or podcasts, or people that illuminate other points of interest. I think that’s what makes her tick, seeking the knowledge, the new system. Something that brings organization to chaos.

How did you get started? What were some of the difficulties you faced in starting?
Liz: I started the truck with my brother & sister-in law.  It was really meant to be more of a hobby...  We all put in a chunk of change, and we all just did a very small scale start and that’s how we got started.   With time my interests grew more and I saw a potential for more and I think that’s when [my brother and sister in law left] Ronnie came on board.

Ronnie: I think one of the difficulties was that Liz had a following, quickly. People wanted what she was selling. I was helping when she needed help at bigger events...and at the time I was doing a different small business and I had the opposite problem. I couldn’t get enough customers...from my point of view she was saying no to jobs, and it was hard to watch! I think it came together nicely that we were able to...I was able to help until we became a partnership.


Lettering by Virginia McDonald of Designs by Vee

What is your biggest regret?
Liz: Not asking Ronnie to come on sooner. By the time she came on board, I was feeling like a pretty big burnout. I was physically exhausted and not feeling it... feeling discouraged. I had to pass up some big opportunities that maybe I should have gone for that could have changed the business.

Ronnie: I don’t think I have any big regrets. Everything that didn’t work out the way we wanted it to... but I don’t regret those things because everything that didn’t work out, we learned from.

What is your best advice to someone just starting out? What advice do you wish someone had said to you?
Ronnie: I wish people would be honest about how much sh*t costs. Especially with what we do- with having our big trucks. I tell people if they ask... I always say, make sure you have extra money your the business bank account. And I know that’ hard to do. But, have that buffer in place for when your transmission blows on your food truck. Then you can call your garage and get the work started right away. Unfortunately, things can be just painfully expensive, and you have to be ready for that.

Liz: I would say, work on a food truck.  Ask someone if you can shadow for free to find out if it’s for you. There’s so many elements to do, that even if I sat down with you for an hour to talk, I’d still be forgetting a bunch of things!  Put some physical work hours into it.

How do you find balance?
Liz: I don’t think we talk about this enough! I imagine you [Ronnie] goes home, and gets on the couch with Beth (your cat), and puts on Law & Order, and then you put a face mask on. And maybe you do your nails or something nice, and meditative, read a couple chapters from a biography you like...

Ronnie: I like to come home and chill and put a face mask on...but mostly I just like to laugh. I just like to joke around, listen to a podcast, and laugh a lot. That’s how I stay sane. Otherwise, I’d just think about poutine all the time...

Liz: Yea, I like to listen to a lot of stand-up.

What is the most challenging part of running your business?
Ronnie: I think management is hard. Learning how to manage staff, managing vendors, dealing with people... it is always different, changing and challenging.

Liz: Staff. I don’t say that as a bad thing. I think we’re finally fine-tuning the type of person we’re looking for, and getting better at describing the work we do so the job is meeting applicant’s expectations. It’s just tough translating that information sometimes.

What is your favorite part of what you do?
Ronnie: I know your [Liz’s] favorite part used to be cooking... talking to customers on the truck and cooking. Is that still your favorite part?

Liz: Yes. I love cooking during a rodeo. I like the fast pace. I like the adrenaline. Also, I like having a good time with our staff.

Liz: I think your favorite part, is seeing the results. Putting a plan in motion, and then seeing the end result. I feel like that’s where you like to be...

Ronnie: Yeah, I don’t know. Day to day, I enjoy different tasks. I do like looking backwards and reminding myself of how much we’ve grown. But I also really like the customers. It sounds stupid, but I like that we’ve seen some customer’s kids grow up right in front of us.

Name some local creatives/business owners that you really admire.
Ronnie: We both really like Marissa from Interstellar Lovecraft. What she does is so good and so unique...

Liz: We love Eatme Ice Cream. They have such a great brand and they are always striving to better their brand.

Ronnie: I think everything they do is a great idea.  

Ronnie: I also really like Mike Governale from Reconnect Rochester. What he’s doing is really un-sexy... trying to get people interested in public transportation, whoa! But he does it in such a cool way.