After four years in finance, Drew Crockett C’05 opened the HubBub truck. We visited him at his brand new brick and mortar to discuss decaf, Penn and life as an entrepreneur. Here online, he opens up about fake IDs, BYOs, and his fondest memories of being a Quaker.
STREET: We know you went to Penn and worked in finance before opening the HubBub truck. Why did you decide to leave banking and start up the truck?
DREW CROCKETT: I worked on a trading floor at a bank. Every morning, I would go to a coffee truck, and the guy had figured out how to put an espresso machine in a food truck, which I thought was so cool. Coming from Penn, I knew how normal it was to eat from food trucks, so a lightbulb went off and I was like “how has no one done this before?” Once I had been working for about four years, I got to the point of realizing, I’m either going to do this for the rest of my life, or I’m going to do something else. That was the beginning of the coffee truck.
STREET: How did you tell your parents you were leaving banking to open a coffee truck in West Philly?
DC: I grew up in a family business so it was a little bit different. They didn’t think I was too crazy to try and start my own business. To leave a good-paying job in 2008 did leave them scratching their heads, my grandma more than anyone.
STREET: Tell us about the process of opening up the coffee shop.
DC: I’ve always been looking at spaces but nothing ever jumped out as the right opportunity. I first looked at this space last March, maybe February. Then you have to go through leases, contractors, designing. Construction started technically in August. We were trying to open in November but that didn’t happen.
STREET: How did you decide on the space?
DC: We were looking at a part of the city where we found was there was something missing that we thought we could provide.
STREET: Do you feel you’re filling a void of good coffee in Center City?
DC: Yes, in this part of Center City, north of Market.
STREET: How did you choose the name HubBub?
DC: “What’s all the hubbub about?” was actually something that my grandmother used to always say. It described what we wanted to do: get people to come together over coffee. Hubbub was originally used to describe gatherings of rowdy crowds protesting something, but over the year it softened its meaning into “a gathering of people.”
STREET: Do you make coffee at home? What’s your favorite way?
DC: Yeah. If I was to make an individual cup of coffee for myself, I’d probably do pour-over and use a Chemex.
STREET: How do you take your coffee?
STREET: What are your thoughts on decaf?
DC: Umm… off the record? [Laughs] A lot more people drink decaf than you think, but because it’s not as sexy or whatever — not that coffee can be sexy — roasters have never spent enough time making good decaf. Our decaf from Stumptown is good, but I never drink it.
STREET: Do you feel going to Penn in any way affected your business–savvy?
DC: I think being a Penn student in general, you’re pretty sel-fmotivated, so you’re going to find people that, regardless of what school they’re in, they’re going to be successful, just because there’s something motivating them.
STREET: Would you ever try to get a liquor license so you could make Irish coffee?
DC: You know what I would love to do? I wouldn’t even need a full liquor license. Have a couple of beers on tap and that’s it. It would be great if people could come down here and have a beer.
STREET: Have you worked the truck at Fling?
DC: Somebody from SPEC asked us about it once, but I think we decided drunk people want fried oreos and not coffee.
STREET: While you were at Penn, were you a Blarney boy or a Smokes guy?
DC: Both, but we went to Blarney a lot.
STREET: What will never be on the menu at HubBub?
DC: A caramel macchiato.
STREET: Is it mandatory for employees to wear skinny jeans and plaid shirts?
DC: [Laughs] No, but you know, it’s in right now.
STREET: Where did you live freshman year?
DC: I lived in the Upper Quad in a triple. My roommate was employee number sub–100 at Facebook. Maybe it’s the nature of Penn but you always find people who do really cool stuff.
STREET: Were you in a frat? Which one?
DC: Yes, Sigma Chi.
STREET: Were you involved in any other clubs?
DC: I played squash.
STREET: We know you were a history major. What was your favorite history class?
DC: There was a seminar about Colonial Philadelphia. It was awesome! It was a small class and you’re in Philadelphia, there’s so much history here that sometimes people take for granted.
STREET: Did you read Street while you were at Penn?
DC: Oh yeah! I read the DP every day.
STREET: Are any of your favorite places from your Penn days still around?
DC: When I was at Penn, Greek Lady was only a truck and actually my senior year the store opened. For the most part, not much has changed. 40th street is a little different. Is there still a crepe place in Houston? That was a hopping spot.
STREET: What was your go–to favorite weekend place?
DC: Bui’s was a staple. Nowadays, Bui’s daughter will bring me over a sandwich since I work next to the truck .
STREET: Were BYOs still a thing when you were at Penn?
DC: Oh yeah, huge. They were actually one of the best things. My favorite was a Mexican place, I just remember we used to take big jugs of tequila and go. I think it was in South Philly. The thing is that now I know where everything is but when you’re at Penn in your own bubble your perspective of where things are when you go downtown is off.
STREET: Do you remember what state your fake ID was from?
DC: California. Actually I had two, I had one from Maryland my freshman year and it sucked. The place that is Copa now used to be called Billy Bob’s and on Wednesday’s they had this thing called “Penny Drinks” where you’d pay five bucks and it was practically an open bar.
[Eds. Note: Dear Copa, can you bring this back please?!]
STREET: There are two types of people at Penn…
DC: Those who live on Beige block and those who party on Beige block.