The Bumbling Bee: Here's What Happened After Shark Tank

Valued at an estimated $1.3 billion in 2023, the food truck industry in America is booming, and is projected to grow even further in the future. And why would it not? Although there are red flags to consider when eating at food trucks, they offer quick sustenance while also giving people the opportunity to try new foods that they might not usually. Besides, it's an excellent way for budding restaurateurs to test the waters without investing in a costly brick-and-mortar establishment or committing to a permanent location. This is one of the reasons why Cassandra Ayala opened The Bumbling Bee in 2019 — a food truck that, according to its company website, is a "vegan junkfood & burger bar" on wheels.

Before appearing on Season 12, Episode 22 of "Shark Tank" with her daughter India, Ayala worked as a real estate investment broker with her husband — until the market crash forced her to invest her savings elsewhere. The industrious entrepreneur started with a hot dog cart, and worked her way up until she had four food trucks to her company's name. Hoping to involve her daughters in the flourishing business with something that interested them, Ayala found a way to incorporate her second daughter Olivia's passion for vegan food into her hot dogs. Thus, The Bumbling Bee was born, offering vegan versions of meaty sandwiches, burgers, southern fried chicken, hot dogs, and milkshakes.

What happened to The Bumbling Bee on Shark Tank?

The year before the mother-daughter duo appeared on "Shark Tank," The Bumbling Bee had already generated $194,000 in sales from its single food truck and a newly opened brick-and-mortar establishment in Virginia Beach. Additionally, the company had made over $320,000 in the following year despite a brief hiatus for its food truck — thanks largely to the opening of a second restaurant in Boulder, Colorado. To support the ongoing expansion, the entrepreneurs sought a $150,000 investment from the Sharks in exchange for a 10% stake in the company.

However, while the Sharks appreciated The Bumbling Bee's delicious vegan offerings and spoke highly of its founder, they expressed reservations about the business. The concept of vegan junk food was not novel, and the Sharks struggled to identify what set The Bumbling Bee apart from its competitors, or what would prevent others from easily replicating its model. Daniel Lubetzky later clarified in that the company's two distant locations also contributed to his reluctance to invest.

"It's [very] tough to start a business at all, let alone to do it in [two] states that are so far away. To avoid brand dilution, I'd opt for picking [one] location in which to establish yourself first," he commented on X, formerly known as Twitter. The general sentiment was that The Bumbling Bee did not appear to be an investable business at that moment, resulting in the entrepreneurs leaving without any offers.

The Bumbling Bee after Shark Tank

Entrepreneurs go on "Shark Tank" to obtain investment and guidance from a Shark, so leaving without a deal can be disheartening. However, appearing on the show brings significant benefits, particularly in terms of publicity for small businesses.

Post-show, The Bumbling Bee's Virginia Beach and Boulder locations experienced an influx of new customers — some local residents who were previously unaware of the business, and others who traveled hours to try its plant-based burgers. The entrepreneurs expressed immense gratitude on Instagram, stating they were "overcome with joy at all of the love and support everyone has shown us" following their television appearance. The subsequent weeks were so busy that they found themselves understaffed, struggling to serve the long lines of customers.

Despite these successes, The Bumbling Bee faced challenges. Cassandra Ayala announced on Facebook that the Virginia Beach location was closing in June 2021 due to issues with the leased space. Although she intended to reopen in a new spot and was exploring potential locations at the time, the situation appeared to be less than ideal.

Is The Bumbling Bee still in business?

The Bumbling Bee experienced initial success post-"Shark Tank," but the current status of the vegan junk food and burger bar is unclear. Both its Virginia Beach and Boulder brick-and-mortar locations closed during the pandemic. Despite these closures, The Bumbling Bee still operated two food trucks, Daisy and Dixie, touring the Hampton Roads area and appearing at vegan festivals along the East Coast.

In September 2023, one of The Bumbling Bee's food trucks began serving at the William & Mary College campus, scheduled to be there three days a week. However, this arrangement ended after just one month. Since then, The Bumbling Bee's online activity has dwindled. There has been no update on its once-active Instagram page since November 11, 2023, and the company's Facebook account has been silent since November 25, 2023. Following this, there has been no further information about The Bumbling Bee and its operations.

What's next for The Bumbling Bee?

There's little current information about The Bumbling Bee's latest developments, or the endeavors of its founders. During her presentation on "Shark Tank," Cassandra Ayala shared her challenging upbringing in homeless shelters, and her early experiences with dumpster diving to find food at the age of eight. This background fueled her determination to ensure she would always have a means to support herself, so that she never went hungry.

It remains to be seen whether Ayala will revive The Bumbling Bee, return to real estate, or start a new venture. The sudden disappearance of the food trucks suggests that The Bumbling Bee might make a comeback in the future. The business was a well-loved favorite in its community, with thousands of Instagram followers and a 4.6 out of 5 rating on Facebook, indicating its missed presence. Fans hope that if The Bumbling Bee returns, its food trucks will eventually rank among those that started small but made it big over the years.