Originally published in The Spenardian.
After selling Veronica’s Cafe about three years ago, Diane Hooper still found she had a passion for food and people, prompting her to open TipsyGypsy Coffee Shop about six weeks ago.
Hooper said when she was a child she dreamed of being a gypsy. So she named her cart the TipsyGypsy and decorated the cart to resemble a caravan wagon. The wagon currently sits right off of the Sterling Highway in Soldotna adjacent to Artzy Junkin.
Q: What do you sell?
A: My menu changes every day. I offer two different paninis. It’s a pretty simple menu, but it’s good. Yogurt parfaits have been extremely popular. I fill them with fresh fruit that I pick up on the way to work. I also put a drizzle of wild fireweed syrup and Alaska birch syrup on them. They’ve been going out of here like hotcakes, and not just in the early mornings but in the afternoons and evenings as well. Then I have coffee and a lot of cool drinks, like smoothies and other drinks people enjoy.
Q: Why start a food cart?
A: After I sold Veronica’s, I really did miss it. I missed the people. I missed making people’s tummies happy. I was down in Homer last fall visiting my daughter and grandchildren, and I saw this little cart out in a field and it had a for sale sign on it. I thought, ‘You know what, I think I can turn that into something special.’ So I did. I brought it home, dressed it up and I’ve had more fun doing this.
Q: What’s been the biggest differences and similarities between your time working in a larger cafe setting, to a small, mobile caravan?
A: It’s a lot different because it’s such a small space, only 80 square feet. I don’t have quite as much storage. I have a menu that’s very simple. Every night I kind of just figure out exactly what I want to do the next day and on my way here I stop by the grocery store and pick up everything I need so it’s all nice and fresh. The difference is it’s very small scale, and the similarity is the people. The people come here and they remember me from Veronica’s and I enjoy it. I enjoy making their tummies smile and happy.
Q: Is this going to be a year-round operation?
A: No. I won’t be open in the winter, and the reason for that is that it’s on a trailer and I don’t think I’ll be winterizing it. I don’t want everything to freeze up. This is just going to be my little summer thing. I’ll try to stay open as long as I can.
Q: Does the location work for you?
A: I’m very excited to be here with Artzy Junkin. I think it’s the perfect fit. I think it’s doing just fine. However, I do have that gypsy spirit and I want to pull it around and go other places. My goal is to move around next summer.