At first glance, Brandon Byrd and Tom Buchanan may seem like an unlikely duo to do business together.
Byrd rocks Converse low tops and bow ties, and sells wildly popular frozen custard out of his food truck, Goodies. Buchanan dons the K Street uniform of a suit and tie and is the managing partner of the D.C. office of the corporate law firm Winston & Strawn.
But their love of a good milkshake brought them together.
Almost exactly two years ago, Buchanan read a story about Goodies and, as a self-proclaimed ice cream enthusiast, tracked down Byrd’s whereabouts on Twitter. He found out Byrd’s truck was parked around the corner from Winston’s office by Farragut Square, so he walked down to buy a strawberry shake and chatted with Byrd, mostly about ice cream.
“We just started talking,” Byrd said. “I didn’t know anything about him, but I liked his energy. I thought, ‘This is a cool dude.’ We had a great conversation and exchanged cards.”
At the time, Byrd had just opened Goodies. He was handling the legal demands that come with forming a new company on his own, and was feeling overwhelmed. When he got an e-mail from Buchanan shortly after they met, inviting him to come to the office to meet some of the firm’s other attorneys, he wasn’t sure what to expect. When they offered to handle Goodies’ legal work, like reviewing contracts or filing paperwork with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office — on a pro bono basis — he was pleasantly taken aback.
“It’s really been a blessing,” Byrd said.
The dessert entrepreneur and corporate attorney became fast friends. In addition to Winston patent attorney J.C. Masullo becoming a legal adviser and Winston’s digital media manager Katy Von Treskow helping with Goodies’ branding and social media promotion, Buchanan himself has become an advocate and informal business consultant for Byrd and his rapidly growing venture. When Byrd deliberates decisions such as whether to open a brick and mortar restaurant, how to tweak the Goodies logo and whether he should start packaging his frozen custard to sell to grocery stores, Byrd often turns to Buchanan for advice.
“I’m always bouncing ideas off Tom,” Byrd said. “I’ll call him and say, ‘I have this idea, what are your thoughts on it?’”
Buchanan introduced Byrd to a local restaurateur who Byrd is now in talks with to possibly expand Goodies’ presence to ballparks.
Last July, when Buchanan hosted a party for 40 summer associates at his home in Alexandria, Byrd catered the desserts. And when the firm held its annual meeting for executive managers in Washington, Byrd brought the ice cream.
“We usually have cookies at those meetings,” Buchanan said. “But he brought these sundaes in mason jars. People were like, ‘This is unbelievable.’”
Byrd offers to do the firm’s events at no charge, but Winston compensates him for the larger events.
“We’re out to help him succeed,” Buchanan said.
Byrd declined to disclose exact financial figures, but said that Goodies’ revenue is up 20 percent this year compared with last year. The business started as a soda bar at National Harbor, and has since added two trucks — one named Gigi, a 1952 vintage Metro van, and her “little brother,” Rudy, a 1957 model.