Most readers would argue that Pub Street already has enough tuk-tuks but Jungle Junction’s Clayton Venis begs to differ.
Clayton has just launched JJ’s Mobile Tuk Tuk Burgers and Fat Dogs – a tuk-tuk converted into a late night burger venue that can dispense food and drinks wherever he pleases.
After an inauspicious start, when the tuk-tuk was driven into a house then a bus and later caught fire, Clayton’s first few nights on the road were a great success.
Clayton plans to park the tuk-tuk outside Lemongrass Spa on Sivutha Boulevard every night after 7.30pm before moving to a spot near The Doghouse as the night progresses.
“I just wanted to get my burgers onto a mobile unit. I worked out I wanted to transform a tuk tuk. One day I was sitting at my bar eating a burger and I was thinking about a tuk tuk and I thought if you could do a little bar around it and put some seats, a grill in it could work,” Clayton says.
“So I did a hand-sketch. I did some measurements on my landlord’s tuk-tuk, then I took my drawing to an engineer in town and we started building it.
“I just wanted to get my burgers into town and I didn’t want to lease premises yet.”
As the lengthy name implies, the tuk-tuk sells a variety of burgers and hot-dogs as well as beers and soft-drinks.
“We’ve got a good dog which is a hot dog in the bun with garlic mayo and mustard and caramelised onion. Then we’ve got the naughty dog which has cheese, bacon and Branston pickle. It’s naughty because it’s a bit fattier,” Clayton says.
“And we’ve got four types of burgers. There’s the junction burger, a cheese and bacon burger, a three bean and chick pea burger for the vegetarians and the haka, the All-Black haka, which is a challenge – it’s a double burger.”
The meaning of ‘All-Black haka’ is of course also a challenge to those not familiar with arcane New Zealand-speak.
An early design of Clayton’s tuk-tuk revealed a few design glitches which have thankfully since been ironed out.
“We hit a bus in town, we hit a house where we storing it. When I designed the tuk-tuk I designed the roof so during the day time the people sitting in the seat wouldn’t be in the sun. But it was a little bit of a design fault on my behalf,” Clayton says.
“With the state of the roads and tuk-tuk drivers don’t really drive that slowly anyway, when we were hitting bumps it was like it had wings. It was sort of moving and rocking and rolling and the guy who was driving didn’t have a lot of experience with pulling tuk-tuks. So we hit the bus.
“Then we had a fire in the roof. The transformer wasn’t the right voltage for the battery we had. I had a customer sitting in the tuk-tuk and he said “Excuse me mate, have a look up there”. I went “faaark’. It was starting to smoke and it wasn’t far off going up. Imagine that.”
Clayton says the tuk-tuk is now ready to launch safely and expects the concept to be a big hit.
Eventually he hopes to expand the mobile food business, taking bookings for private functions and exploring other food options.