Get to know Mark McConnell and Cecilia Rikard, the dynamic duo behind the Off the Rez Cafe, Off the Rez food truck, and most recently Seattle pizza place Via Tribulani (with locations in Queen Anne and Capitol Hill). In this week’s Q&A, Mark and Cecilia discuss serving food to inmates in a Washington prison, the vital flair local businesses offer their communities, and some of their favorite places to #SpendLikeItMatters.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What’s something your customers may not know about you or your business?
Mark: We were the first food truck to enter a prison in Washington. We were invited by the Washington Correctional Facility in Shelton and the most requested food truck among the inmates.
Cecilia: We worked with the Native inmates and Chief Seattle Club to bring the food truck there, sell food, and donate a percentage of the proceeds to the Chief Seattle Club. The Native population inside Shelton was excited to have us there and have a little taste of home.
Why is it important to you and your business that people #SpendLikeItMatters?
Cecilia: It’s really important for a city or community to have unique businesses you don’t see everywhere you go. And if you want to see unique and interesting food and handmade items made with love, attention, and care, it’s especially important now to show support for small, local businesses.
Mark: A lot of our employees are minorities and immigrants, and they’re not getting the same benefits and unemployment other people are getting. It’s not only supporting us as business owners, but it’s keeping people in jobs and putting food on the table. The people behind the food are really what matter right now.
Who is on your InTENtional List right now?
Cecilia: Pasta Casalinga. They’re in Pike Place and have handmade pasta that is super authentic and wonderful. Pike Place isn’t bustling and busy like you’re used to seeing it, so showing support for them is great, especially when their food is so delicious. Also, we love our local food truck friends, like Lumpia World.
Mark: They’ve definitely been one of our favorite food trucks since we opened. We love them and they’re Black and Pacific Islander-owned. They’re just great people.