When best friends Moni Burgin and Rachel Horesovsky decided to open a vegan food trailer, they knew they’d have to do something to make their business stand out from other health-centric food trucks, a difficult feat in Austin, Texas. Using their backgrounds in dessert-making and a successful Kickstarter campaign, the two opened Milky Way Shakes, the city’s first vegan milkshake truck.
The pair’s trailer opened in September 2017 in the back corner of the Spider House complex, offering space-themed flavors such as the Buzz Aldrin — coffee, hazelnut toffee — and the Star-Berry Lemon Cloud — strawberry compote, lemon curd and meringues. Everything from the coconut and almond milk ice cream to the sauces and syrups is made in-house.
Since dairy products are off-limits in the vegan diet, it can be a challenge to find desserts that fit vegans’ lifestyles that don’t taste like potting soil. Milky Way seeks to fix that.
“We get a lot of customers come and they’re like, ‘I’ve never had a milkshake before, this is so exciting for me,’” Horesovsky said. “We got just almost nothing but positive support for the idea of us being vegan. That’s what made us decide to just go dairy-free.”
Burgin and Horesovsky met in North Carolina when they were just 9 years old, and they quickly became close friends. During college in Washington, D.C., the two worked together at a gourmet chocolate shop where they were able to take classes on chocolate making and flavor pairing, which Burgin cites as a huge inspiration for their menu.
“We always wanted to go back to working with desserts,” Burgin said. “We thought milkshakes would be a good way to offer a wide menu because we can mix a bunch of different flavors but still have very few ingredients and a small setup.”
Along with flavor, the pair said they focus on presentation as a key factor in everything from their shakes, website and trailer.
“We like to make everything as cute as possible,” Horesovsky said. “Both of us have a background in art as well.”
Horesovsky moved to Austin a few years after Burgin, who formerly managed a food trailer called The Jalopy. After it closed down, the friends decided to turn their milkshake idea into reality.
They said the most difficult aspect of starting their business was getting the trailer ready. After funding the trailer through Kickstarter, they realized that it needed more renovations than expected and eventually replaced almost the entire structure.
“We really gutted it and did a ton of renovations,” Horesovsky said. “We hired contractors to help with some of it but a lot of it we did do ourselves, and we learned a lot in the process.”
Burgin also said merging their now 18-year-old friendship into a business partnership was difficult at first, but by spending so much time together, they’ve been able to maintain their bond.
“While we do talk about the business a lot, it still feels like the same friendship,” Burgin said.
The owners said business has dipped in the past months due to the cold weather, but the owners of Milky Way Shakes said they’re expecting business to thrive once spring and summer begin.
“It’s pretty easy to tell how busy we’re going to be based on the weather,” Horesovsky said. “So it’s only gonna get busier.”
Rolando Garza, co-founder of the nearby vegan Mexican food truck, Cool Beans, said he often trades his food for Milky Way’s shakes.
“It’s a very unique niche, but they are needed in this community because there are a lot of people who are dairy-free,” Garza said. “(Vegans) would like that same experience of that milkshake from their childhood.”