Karma’s Cruzin’ Cafe Interview- January 15th, 2022
Denise (Karma) Clifford
We had a great time getting to know Karma a little bit more on a personal level concerning her and her son Roan’s business. This mother/son team run a food truck and eatery located in Alton and if you have not tried their food, look for their food truck or go out and find the gentle fun-loving family atmosphere that Karma is naturally creating in their growing eatery.
We first met Karma in ordering some delicious homestyle cooking off her food truck at one of the local famer’s markets, which was also how we met Roan! We were hooked! Her “Rubbish Plate”, was the best!
Karma has a magnetic personality and quite a great life story. We always enjoy our conversations with her and now we call her family.
We started to take our plastic bottles out to her eatery and just went in one day. We instantly felt at home, not only with Karma, but the eatery is comfortable, easy. Like the old show Cheers, it’s where people know your name. We had been looking for just this atmosphere to spend our mornings out – the only problem is – we did not want to leave! If you have not ventured out to her place, do it!
So, let’s get started.
How and why did you decide to go into this business?
That’s easy! When I was young, about 100 years ago, I was so very shy and introverted. I started working in the food industry. Started as a salad girl and ended up waitressing. It is very hard to be shy and wait tables. I realized – you can do this! My favorite part of this job was listening to people and hearing their stories. I realized I wanted to do more than wait tables – I wanted to create an experience for folks who came in.
Later, my brother began working with me and we had so much fun! In 2018, we opened our authentic eats food truck. During that time, we worked side by side and he passed on the “secret” recipe that is one of the reasons that our “plate” stands out. This homemade meat hot sauce was then handed down to me when I became the sole owner of the eatery where I grew up, as well as taking over the food truck. In late 2020, I uprooted and moved back to my roots. I opened and started running the small brick and mortar beginning in November. My son Roan made the decision to be a part of this journey. He went to culinary school and began working along side my brother and I on the food truck. He is now the full time cook and manager of the food truck.
What is the most important thing that you would like people to know about your business?
That customers come back. That they love being here so much they want to return. The food is so good. We are working on creating ways to make it more appealing. We want them to feel like this place is just for them – that it’s their place. We want REPEAT OFFENDERS!
How did you come up with the name of your business?
I have always believed what you put out you get back. I live by that. So, you do the best thing. You do what is right.
I was into Roller Derby for many years and that was my name. It made sense as the track is a circle, like Karma. For many years, I did pubilc relations and was the face of our team. I did many events and radio. Folks just knew me as Karma. To go from rolling on wheels to a food truck on wheels – it had to be Karma!
What is unique about your business?
ME!!! I never thought I would be the sole owner of a business. I never went to school, never took business classes. I decided to do this, and I have. I am a Roller Derby Girl, a mom, a writer, it all encompasses who I am here.
What makes you most excited about your business?
When I get to meet a new customer. When someone new walks into our eatery. When I make a connection with someone. When I have a new idea. When I get to help others or support another small business. Creating new things.
What is it that you most want people to know about your business?