Back in high school, Warren Sammons was in a punk band in need of a drummer. Thanks to a mutual friend, the spot was filled by Michael Gonzales, who everyone calls Gonzo.
Ever since then, the two have been best friends.
Now, the duo has partnered up again, this time serving inclusive treats and drinks in a big silver truck.
Mockups Tucson opened earlier this month. The silver truck with a painting of a skeleton enjoying a soft-serve cone often sits on the southwest corner of Broadway and Rosemont, specializing in vegan ice cream and mocktails.
“We both hit a spot in our lives where we were in careers that we liked but didn't love,” Gonzo said. “We just found ourselves in a place where we were able to take a swing at something that we were passionate about.”
Due to their shared love of food and board games, Warren and Gonzo wanted to marry the two, creating a fun place where customers could enjoy a game of cornhole while sipping on an inventive mocktail.
Since Warren is a longtime vegan, a light bulb went off for the two of them: what if they figured out a way to make soft-serve ice cream that everyone could enjoy?
In addition to the soft serve, Warren is also known for his cocktails. Gonzo, who is sober, said what he missed the most were the fun, creative drinks. That’s when another light bulb went off.
Thus, the menu for Mockups Tucson was born.
To make their dream a reality, Warren and Gonzo bought a food truck from someone in Phoenix. Wanting to pay homage to their punk roots, an old friend and local tattoo artist Adam Goss helped draw the skeleton logo.
“Having both grown up playing punk rock and metal music and we just have a love for that kind of stuff,” Gonzo said. “We wanted that to be reflected in the way the logo looks.”
When it came to creating the perfect texture and flavor for the vegan soft serve, Gonzo said it really is like rocket science. After repeatedly workshopping a recipe and filling up a notebook with different iterations and tweaks to the recipe, they decided to use a powder mix from a trusted vegan company to help perfect the texture and taste.
That, along with almond milk, a little bit of salt and some flavor is how Gonzo and Warren created their vegan vanilla soft-serve base. They then add in a variety of toppings to add an extra flavorful kick.
Cookies and cream, peanut butter and jelly and cinnamon toast crunch are just a few of the flavors you can indulge in at Mockups. However, the fan favorite is the American Nightmare, which consists of the vanilla soft-serve base topped with layers of apple pie filling and Biscoff cookie crumbs.
“I love apple pie, so we just wanted to make a really delicious apple pie filling from scratch and throw that in the ice cream,” Gonzo said. “It's definitely our most popular seller for sure.”
In fact, Warren said in the beginning of last week they made a batch of the apple pie filling using 41 apples and by Friday they were almost out of it.
Aside from the soft serve, Mockups also specializes in mocktails and soda. You can try their homemade cola, their coffee soda and various mocktails like a spiced hibiscus tea with lime called Jamaica Me Crazy or the Reformed Brain Eater, which has grapefruit and lime juices, falernum, grenadine and a cherry garnish.
“The juniper soda is great,” Warren said. “I now prefer that over a gin and tonic. It has so much more juniper flavor in it than a normal gin and tonic would.”
Not only can customers enjoy a tasty treat, but there are also various games like cornhole and Jenga that people can play while scarfing down an American Nightmare.
Despite only being open for a couple of weeks, Warren said they have heard great feedback from their customers, saying most non-vegans can’t tell the difference between their soft serve and dairy-based ones.
Warren and Gonzo have even been able to make connections with the sober community and groups that really appreciate their mocktail menu.
Ultimately, the two aim to provide their customers with an inclusive place anyone can hang out at and try something new.
“That's really what we're after here — making a space for people to enjoy each other and some treats at the same time,” Warren said.
Mockups Tucson is open 2-9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Check out their Instagram page for details on their location.