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Exploring Life & Business with Brian O’Konek of Auntie M’s Gluten Free

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brian O’Konek.

Hi Brian, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Our adventure began almost 10 years ago when I was diagnosed with Celiac disease. My wife would help her grandparents with their mini donut trailer. I would go out to spots and realized there wasn’t much for anyone who is gluten-free at the fairs. We ended up going to the MN state fair, and that’s when I knew I had to figure some things out. We started messing around with recipes, and then 6 years ago, I decided I couldn’t be the only one missing fair food. So I signed up for our local county fair, and we set up a tent there. Sure enough, I wasn’t alone. It went well, but my wife Myndi (Auntie M) said we weren’t doing any more events from a tent. We needed a legit trailer. So we ordered up a trailer and did the build over the winter. We contacted the Gluten Intolerance Group to see if they would certify a food trailer, and they said we would be the first. So we got certified by them to give people an extra piece of mind to know we take gluten-free seriously.

We applied to the MN state fair and the Wisconsin state fair to get in. But in the meantime, we started doing brewery pop-ups and other random events, and things were going well. When Covid hit, our graphics business was slow, so we decided to hit things harder with Auntie M’s. We were pleasantly surprised just how well it went over. Then last year, the Wisconsin state fair reached out to see if we would attend, and shortly after that MN state fair reached out. So last year was our first year at the WI and MN state fairs. So now we enjoy traveling to our fairly regular spots when it’s not the fair season. And we work crazy hard during the fair season. My wife Myndi, our daughter Abby, and I are the main three workers. Our son Cameron helps from time to time. And we have an awesome friend who helps out when we need it. We often get asked about franchises, but we aren’t sure we are ready to cross that bridge.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has been an easier start than we planned. The hardest part has been taking a small idea: trying to grow faster than we were prepared for. So the “growing pains,” as they say, have been real!

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Auntie M’s Gluten Free?
We are a mobile food unit that does gluten-free, fair food. Corn dogs, cheese curds, funnel cakes. We are the only food truck in the country to be validated gluten-free by the GIG.

Let’s talk about our city – what do you love? What do you not love?
We travel to many cities, all of which have very different things to love and not love.

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