Can’t lay off the Blue Suede Foods
By Josh Staloch
GREEN BAY – Rachelle O’Donnell-Lance is doing what she loves, and these days, she’s doing it on her own terms.
With 20 years experience as a professional chef on her resume, O’Donnell-Lance left the corporate world and, with the help of her husband Scott Lance, launched Blue Suede Foods, an eclectic-eats food truck on the streets of Green Bay.
A transplant from Detroit, O’Donnell-Lance moved to Green Bay in 1991.
As she wrapped up her culinary education at Fox Valley Technical College, she began working as a member of the Lambeau Field cooking team.
O’Donnell-Lance said she did a little bit of everything during her time as a cook at Lambeau – starting out working game days feeding thousands of hungry Green Bay Packers fans.
From there, she moved on to catering and cooking at Curly’s Pub, the former restaurant inside the Lambeau Field Atrium, where she went from cook to supervisor to chef in a job that took her around the country.
O’Donnell-Lance said she was fortunate to find her true calling after working in customer service-related jobs as a young adult.
“Very boring, very mundane,” she said as “Another Brick in the Wall” played on her food truck’s stereo. “I wanted to pursue what I’ve always loved doing. When I was a kid, I used to draw pictures of my restaurant. I was always helping my mom and grandma in the kitchen, food always brings people together. So, I decided to just go for it.”
Falling into place
O’Donnell-Lance said she was working as a chef at another local restaurant when COVID-19 started to blanket the nation, and the sit-down food industry took a hit.
She said the idea of starting a food truck was sort of a fantasy she and her husband used to joke around about.
But the more business at the restaurant began to slow, O’Donnell-Lance said the more appealing the idea became – and like building blocks, things started to fall into place.
A truck that fit the bill became available locally, the two pulled the trigger and Blue Suede Foods hit the streets in September 2021.
“We found the truck and it all just kind of came together,” she said. “We decided it was time. We were tired of working for somebody else and making them money. We decided it’s time to get my own stuff out there.”
O’Donnell-Lance says the working arrangement she and her husband, an elevator mechanic, have, is simple – he keeps the truck operational and she keeps the food delicious.
Behind the name
“We were actually going to call it The Yellow Submarine originally,” O’Donnell-Lance said. “We were going to do soup, salad and sandwiches. After looking into copyright and trademark laws, the Beatles and Paul McCartney and all of their labels have that locked down pretty well.”
Up next, Elvis.
She said it was her father, Dennis, who was the inspiration for the name.
“We were sitting around the dining room table with my mom and dad, and he said something to the effect of ‘Don’t step on my blue suede shoes,’” she said. “I don’t know why, and it just rolled into Blue Suede Foods. It just fit.”
O’Donnell-Lance said the menu at Blue Suede Foods is ever-changing.
She said she likes to shop locally whenever she can for ingredients, so everything depends on availability.
Right now, the menu’s lunch selections include a traditional cheesesteak, a chicken and spinach sandwich, beef stew and a vegetable pasta.
For breakfast, Blue Suede Foods is currently serving up crepes wih berries and cream as well as a breakfast burger.
She said she also tries to incorporate other local businesses into things on her menu.
“Like my beer cheese dip,” she said, “I’ve used brews from Nobel Roots (Brewery, on University Avenue in Green Bay). I like to get their name on my menu. I don’t know if it helps, but I like to try to help other local businesses when I can.”
Location, location, location
O’Donnell-Lance said the Blue Suede Foods truck is parked on Broadway near Jake’s Pizza and Best Budz Wednesdays for lunch, for what she refers to as Women-Owned Wednesdays.
All three of the establishments are operated by females.
She also spends Thursdays and Fridays on Broadway near Partyline Tavern.
The big blue truck takes Mondays off but can be found at the Huron Grove Apartment Complex on Huron Road in Bellevue from 3-7 p.m. on Tuesdays.
Out in the community
O’Donnell-Lance said part of Blue Suede Food’s mission is to give back.
A couple of weeks before Christmas 2021, she said she heard volunteers were organizing toys for the Toys For Tots program inside a vacant space in an Ashwaubenon shopping center, so she decided to stop by and feed the whole crew – free of charge.
“That kind of thing just makes our hearts and souls feel better,” O’Donnell-Lance said. “My husband and I are both giving people. We like to give back to our community.”