One great thing about the world of mobile bars, and small businesses in general, is the fact that each owner and operator brings with them their own unique set of skills and experiences.
Whether they have a background in events, design, catering, or something totally unrelated, each entrepreneur puts their own twist on how they deliver their service. It’s what makes this area of the industry so diverse and ensures that no two mobile bars are the same.
Robin, owner of the San Clemente based Coco’s Cocktail Caravan, has traversed a meandering path to mobile bar ownership. Her varied career has culminated in not only the founding of a beautiful mobile cocktail bar, but a business that prides itself on impeccable customer service and the know-how to back it up.
We caught up with Robin to find out more about why she left corporate hospitality to set-up her own operation...
Hi Robin, thanks for joining us today. We love what you’re doing with Coco’s Cocktail Caravan! What inspired you to start your mobile cocktail bar?
I was inspired to start my mobile bar business because of my long history in the culinary arts/hospitality field. After finishing culinary school in my early 20’s, I took about 3 years and travelled the world. Some of that time was spent on private luxury yachts in the Mediterranean and East Coast of the US, working as a private chef.
To fund my ongoing travel I’ve worked as hostess, waitress, bartender and cook along the way. After completing a five-year stint with The Ritz Carlton Hotel chain, I quit to raise my two daughters, but I always continued with some catering and cake decorating on the side to keep a foot in the industry.
Now with grown daughters, I had the desire to reinvent myself, but I knew I didn’t want to go back to food. I loved bartending and with my culinary background, building a cocktail felt like building a main dish, balancing and infusing just the right flavors.
What an amazing journey! I’m assuming that it was starting a mobile cocktail bar that came next?
Yes, in 2019 my husband and I bought an old 1972 trailer and spent 8 months renovating it, all to open the business just in time for the pandemic. We worked one event before everything shut down.
So here we are two years later, still working hard to get this business of mine which I’m so passionate about off the ground. We’ve had quite a bit of support from our San Clemente community down here in SoCal, and have been lucky enough to work some really fun jobs since our (second) launch.
You’ve had such a varied career path within the hospitality industry, what have you loved most about starting a mobile bar business?
What I enjoy most about running this business is how fun the events are, from start to finish. From the moment we start working with the client and deciding on which cocktails they want (I come up with a lot of my own recipes), to the actual day of the event. Coco is the hub and life of the party. I’ll never get tired of seeing people with these huge smiles as they walk up to our mobile bar and order a drink. They're always in awe of what we have created and how much fun it is to have a mobile bar at their event.
Has there been a highlight event that you’ve worked since launching the bar?
One of my most favorite events we did was for The Pet Project Foundation. All the micro-breweries in our town came out and served beer tastings. Our bar, Coco, provided the kegs of 805. Everyone came with their dogs for a fun day and all the proceeds went to the pet charity.
So cool! We love hearing about the community focused events that mobile bars are such a big part of. What’s next for Coco’s Cocktail Caravan?
Our most immediate plan for the bar is to form partnerships with associated businesses. We just partnered with another wedding venue to be able to use their liquor license. So now we can offer full packages with alcohol, along with the option to buy your own alcohol if you choose.
We are currently in negotiations with our local private golf club to partner with them for their golf events and the weddings they host on their property. I’m always trying to remain open and receptive to any opportunities out there for my business. If anyone out there would like to collaborate, please let me know!
What’s availability like for Coco’s Cocktail Caravan this year?
Right now, I still feel like my business is very new, so there is a lot of availability. Our books are open for 2022 and we’re open to jobs of all shapes and sizes, so please don’t hesitate to reach out and discuss your event details with us!
I would like to point out that even though I’m new to the mobile bar business, I have 25 plus years in the hospitality industry. When you book my mobile bar, you’re also booking my many years of expertise and experience. Customer service is my number one priority along with my organizational skills in party planning.
Awesome! And finally, what’s behind the name of your mobile bar?
The name Coco is an homage to my beloved little dog and best friend who passed away the day the mobile bar was purchased. The foundation of this business was built on everything Coco the dog embodied - kindness, inclusivity, always happy and excited, and up for a good party anytime!
Well we certainly think that you deliver on all of those aspects! Thanks so much for speaking with us and letting us tell your story.
As you can see from the photos in this feature, Robin has done a sterling job with her mobile bar conversion. For eight months, she and her husband, Rey, worked day in and day out to gut, rebuild, paint and shape what is now their beloved cocktail caravan bar, Coco.
Check out their website for a closer look at the step-by-step transformation.
The makeover really is incredible. What was once a sad, gray box with peeling paint and dirty interior has flourished into a beautiful bar on wheels. The huge(!) serving window surrounded by wood trim and propped-up wooden cover is the centerpiece of a seriously pretty mobile bar. Matching smaller windows, a dark wood belly, white walls and a classy logo complete the stylish, contemporary look.
More dark wood and an eye-catching tile trim continue the tasteful theme inside. This bar really does have the aesthetics for any occasion.
So, if you’re searching for a photogenic bar with the industry experience and hospitality knowledge to back it up and ensure your event is a hit, look no further than Coco’s Cocktail Caravan.
Servicing all of Orange County, you can contact Robin and Coco’s Cocktail Caravan here.