MILWAUKIE, Ore. (KOIN) — The Pony Espresso food truck is an original model, and it’s been by Bruce Lindner’s side since 1994 when he started serving coffee inside it. He said he’s replaced truck-part-after-truck-part numerous times, but the truck — 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.”
On Wednesday morning, Lindner, after running inside his Milwaukie home for a moment, returned to see steam coming from the engine of the Pony Espresso. He popped the hood, and the influx of oxygen added to the flames hiding inside. He said the impact knocked him to the snow.
“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 was destroyed. The coffee equipment on the inside was mostly OK, but he did say it sustained 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 Javamobile has new life. His daughter, Lisa, started a Go Fund Me to help bring the business back to life. As of Thursday afternoon the fundraiser raised over $20,000 by 440 people. The money raised so far 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 Farmer’s market and serve his normal Monday-through-Friday rounds.
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.”