Community breathes new life into coffee truck
The Pony Espresso food truck is an original model, and it's been owned by Bruce Lindner since 1994 when he started serving coffee from it.
Lindner said he's replaced truck part after truck part numerous times, but the vehicle — which he calls his trusty steed — has continued to thrive for nearly 24 years, becoming a food cart icon in an area famous for them.
"This is the oldest continuously operating food truck in town," Lindner said, "until yesterday."
Last Wednesday morning, Lindner, after a quick trip into his Milwaukie home, returned to see steam coming from the engine of the Pony Espresso. He popped the hood, and the influx of oxygen fed the flames hiding inside. He said the impact knocked him to the ground.
"I was throwing snowballs at the fire to try and put it out, in vain," Lindner said. "So I ran in the house and called the fire department, and by the time they got here it was gone."
Lindner's home survived the fire — which he's extremely thankful for — but his trusty steed didn't. The engine and the front part of the truck were destroyed. The coffee equipment on the inside was mostly OK, but suffered smoke and water damage.
Not long after he lost the truck, Lindner logged onto Facebook and penned a post, showing a photo of his destroyed truck with the license plate "JAVA 1."
"It's the end of Pony Espresso," Lindner wrote, "I'm officially unemployed."
A day later, the prognosis for Lindner's java mobile has new life. His daughter, Lisa, started a GoFundMe page to help bring the business back to life. In less than 48 hours, the campaign raised over $20,000 from 440 people. The money raised is enough to buy a replacement vehicle, Lindner said.
"It does a lot for my heart," Lindner said. "It rejuvenates my feeling that this is not a bad world. There's a lot of good out there. At a time when there's a lot of bad, it's nice to see the flip side."
Lindner said he's going to rebuild his business by May or June. He plans to be back at the Beaverton Farmers Market and serve his normal Monday-through-Friday rounds in the Milwaukie/Clackamas areas.
For a moment, Lindner thought his truck, his livelihood for nearly 24 years, was gone. But now he has more than just hope — he's got a plan.
"I'm not giving up — I love this," he said. "This is what I love, I don't know how else to put it. ... I'm 65. I'm not going to hang this up. I love this. It's just been the best job in the world."
And he's got the community's support to thank for keeping that love alive.
"That was just a hell of a gift," Lindner said. "Heck of a gift."
Here's the link to Lindner's fundraising page: gofundme.com/keep-bruce-lindner-fed.