Interview of The Week: El Toro Rojo

Dennis from El Toro Rojo shared the most exciting facts about his family business that he runs with his father. The story behind El Toro Rojo is worth reading!

DENNIS FROM EL TORO ROJO SHARED THE MOST EXCITING FACTS ABOUT HIS FAMILY BUSINESS THAT HE RUNS WITH HIS FATHER. THEIR MEXICAN FOOD TRUCK IS ONE OF THE BEST IN THE NYC FOOD TRUCK SCENE. DENNIS AND HIS FATHER PAY INCREDIBLE ATTENTION TO THEIR PRODUCT AND MAKE SURE THEY DELIVER THE BEST FOOD TO THEIR CUSTOMERS. THE STORY BEHIND EL TORO ROJO IS WORTH READING!

Dennis Apreza

 

NYFTA: When did you first get an idea to open a food truck?

Dennis: It was in 2015; I brought my father to watch the movie “Chef” in a theater which was about a father and son opening up a food truck.

NYFTA: What made you think of opening a Mexican food truck?

Dennis: My father learned how to cook Mexican food from my mother’s mom old recipes from her home town, and his passion for cooking grew after he had my little sister and me. His first job in New York was at a supermarket’s produce department. He was intrigued by the freshness of all the products that he was purchasing for the supermarket. He practiced his cooking skills by cooking meals for us on his days off. He then realized he enjoyed cooking and had a good “Sazon” as well. However, he continued to work in the produce purchasing. I always told my dad that he should become a chef. One day I asked him why don’t we open a food truck and turn his hobby into a business project. SO WE DID!

NYFTA: How long have you had the truck?

Dennis: Since the winter of 2016, little over two years now.

NYFTA: Were there any significant obstacles along the way that you had to overcome?

Dennis: Yes, operations (staffing, parking locations, production) and especially working together with my father; old school vs. new school!

NYFTA: What is your typical working day?

Dennis: My day (as I work full time on the truck):

6am – Load truck, set up and heat

8:30am – Drive out and compete for parking

9:30am – Park

11:00am – 3:00pm  Open for service

On productions days, I usually go to Restaurant Depot to purchase products and paper products then stay with production till 6pm to quality test the recipes.

NYFTA: How did you put your menu together?

Dennis: It was a complicated process. My father wanted to put too many items on the menu, just like a restaurant, but I didn’t agree. It would be too difficult to cook everything on the truck. We had to eliminate items as we tested them.

NYFTA: How often do you change/add items to the menu?

Dennis: We haven’t changed our menu items in about one year, but we do add seasonal items like Jumbo grilled shrimp or Beer battered fried cod in the summer. We also have a board with specials. That’s how we expose our clientele to different Mexican food.

NYFTA: How did you test the menu? Friends? Family?

Dennis: First, it was friends and family, but we used Long Island City as a test site to work out the kinks and operational issues. We make changes based on the feedback. We stayed in LIC for about 2-3 months.

NYFTA: What do you think makes your menu items better than others?

Dennis: The freshness of our product for sure! You would be amazed by how many items other trucks use that come from a box or might just be frozen. We purchase fresh produce to make our seasoning, marinade, and salsas. We also import our dried chilies from Mexico. When avocado or any other ingredient’s market price is high, we don’t compromise on any product or quality (even if the business takes a small hit).

 
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Interview of The Week: Abeetz

David D’Amico, the founder of the Abeetz pizza food truck, managed to start a successful business with minimal experience in the industry.

DAVID D’AMICO, THE FOUNDER OF ABEETZ PIZZA FOOD TRUCK, MANAGED TO START A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS WITH MINIMAL EXPERIENCE IN THE INDUSTRY. HIS FOOD TRUCK HAS BECOME ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR FOOD TRUCKS IN NYC SERVING THOUSANDS OF SATISFIED PIZZA LOVERS. THERE IS PIZZA, THERE IS GOOD PIZZA, BUT THERE IS ALSO THE BEST PIZZA – ABEETZ! DAVE SHARED MANY INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT HIS BUSINESS AS WELL AS PIZZA HIS PIZZA.

Amico Abeetz Food Truck Founder

 

NYFTA: When did you first get an idea to open a food truck?

Dave: One day I made a choice to leave my office job because I always knew that I wanted to be in the restaurant business. Some people look up to sports players, but my role models have always been chefs. The reason I chose a food truck over a restaurant was that I really enjoy being face to face with my customers. I love being able to interact with them and watch them enjoying my food. I believe that I’m in the entertainment business just as much as in the food industry. I absolutely love what I do, and I think that shows through with the experience you get at the Abeetz truck.

NYFTA: What made you think of opening a Pizza food truck?

Dave: I decided to open a pizza truck because of my obsession with pizza. I have traveled all over the world and tasted many different kinds of pizza. I have taken things that I liked on each pizza and created what I believe is one of the best pizza available. We built the truck from an old FedEx step van. I wanted an open concept with windows that surround the truck. My idea for the truck’s image was a clean and simple look. I wanted to showcase our 3,000lb gold oven imported from Italy. Making pizza is an art, and I wanted everyone to be able to see it as if they are watching a show. I have had the truck for a year and a half now. We won “Best Food Truck in Westchester” after being in business for only 6 months.

NYFTA: Were there any significant obstacles along the way that you had to overcome?

Dave: The biggest obstacle was the time when I sold my apartment to start my food truck business and moved in with my parents. I had no idea if this was going to work out and it was horrifying. My brother and father even tried to talk me out of it. I didn’t know anybody in the business to guide me, so I had to read books on operating a food truck. I researched permits, insurance, and commissaries on my own. I was fully vested and committed to making it work. Another big obstacle was figuring out how to get a 3,000lb oven inside the truck. We initially had to add suspension. We also have to replace the brakes every year due to the extreme weight of the vehicle. Also one of the most important things is an on-call mechanic. Maintaining the truck’s mechanical state is essential. We have missed parties because of technical issues before.

NYFTA: What is your typical working day?

Dave: I usually wake up around 7:30 am and run to the food store, then prep and cook food for the day. Service is generally from 11am-3pm, then I spend time cleaning the truck. If we don’t have a private event at night, I spend afternoons answering phone calls, emails, and book parties.  I can’t remember the last time I had a day “off” since I started this business. People always come to me and say “I have always wanted to have a food truck” or “I was going to open a food truck.” I think it looks fun and not much work, but it’s a hard job! There are some weeks I’m putting in 110-120 hours a week.  

NYFTA: How did you put your menu together?

Dave: My menu consists of some of the classic items like Margarita, Pepperoni and a traditional cheese pie. I also came up with some fun new ideas like a bacon, egg and cheese pizza with an everything bagel crust, avocado toast pizza or our cinnamon rolls, that we make fresh from the pizza dough. I try to be creative and offer something that no one else has which is exciting for my customers. People ask me: “Why don’t you make Nutella Pizza?” It’s because everyone else does. Most of the specials that I come up with I don’t even taste because I just know they will work; for example our french onion soup pizza.

NYFTA: What do you think makes your menu items better than others?

Dave: There is an argument of which ingredient is most important for making great pizza. The sauce, cheese or the dough? Don’t get me wrong; each of these elements has to come together to make a great pizza, but the most important is undoubtedly the dough. My thin crust pizza is crunchy but not cracking. It holds up and is not floppy. A lot of people put too much cheese or sauce on their pizza, but with pizza, less is more. I am 100% Italian with relatives from Sicily and Naples. Most won’t agree, but I think New York pizza is better than pizza in Italy. I am not willing to give out my exact dough recipe, but I can share tips when making the dough. I use 00 flour and try to get fresh wet yeast rather than packaged instant yeast. The dough will rise better and become lighter and fluffier. Let it proof for 24 hours in the refrigerator. When you are ready to cook it, put the oven up to as high as it will go and use a pizza stone at home.

NYFTA: Do you have any exciting changes planned for the future?

Dave: Many people ask me if I will open a brick and mortar restaurant. My answer is – I will build another food truck first, but I’m not sure if I want an actual restaurant. I love being able to go to new places with the food truck. From warehouse weddings in Brooklyn, tent party on a desolate farm in Northern Westchester, being a part of a triple crown at the Belmont Stakes to fireworks on the fourth of July at the South St Seaport. We don’t vend on the street as many NYC trucks do. During the week, we can be found at office parks and schools for lunch and breweries or private parties at night. Saturday is the busiest day for us, and we usually book 2-4 private parties for most Saturdays in the summer. We are most known for our After Wedding parties. As guests are leaving a wedding reception, we are outside serving pizza.

 
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Interview of The Week: Glazed & Confused

One of the Glazed & Confused owners, Danny, talks about their concept and reveals some of the most interesting facts.

ONE OF THE GLAZED & CONFUSED OWNERS, DANNY, TALKS ABOUT THEIR CONCEPT AND REVEALS SOME OF THE MOST INTERESTING FACTS. GLAZED & CONFUSED DONUT TRUCK STARTED SPONTANEOUSLY AND GREW INTO A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS THAT HAS THOUSANDS OF SATISFIED DONUT LOVING CUSTOMERS ALL OVER NYC.  CONTINUE READING TO FIND OUT MORE.

glazed and confused founders

NYFTA: What was the initial idea behind Glazed & Confused? What made you think of opening a donut truck?

Danny: The initial concept of Glazed & Confused began on my honeymoon when I first saw the donut machine that makes our donuts. I was completely mesmerized and knew this would be a concept that would thrive in NYC. We use a completely automated donut ‘robot’ that pops out fresh mini donuts with the press of a button. After doing some research, I pulled the trigger and bought my first machine. Then came the fun part, testing the recipes 🙂

NYFTA: Can you tell us more about the donuts and the menu?

Danny: The donut batter we use has some unique exotic spices. I don’t want to give away too much, but there is turmeric, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg in our batter. Our glazes and toppings are meant to be simple. We aren’t trying to cover the flavor of the donut. We have about eight flavors on our menu at all times. The other flavors are seasonal, and we like to have fun with them. The craziest topping is our New York Pork Donut (NYPD)…it’s a 12-hour pork shoulder shredded and topped with a barbecue glaze.

NYFTA: How long have you been in the industry?

Danny: I have been in the food business since I graduated from college and had never worked for anyone but myself since then. Being an entrepreneur has its ups and downs, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. The biggest challenge I face is finding people who share the same passion and drive to be in this industry as myself. I am lucky to have a life long friend who is a partner in the business who I brainstorm and bounce ideas off.

NYFTA: Were there any significant obstacles along the way that you had to overcome?

Danny: Because of the nature of the business, you are bound to experience some headaches. Breakdowns will happen. Employees will call out. You’re inevitably going to run out of the one ingredient your customer wants. I try to learn from every negative experience and be better in the future.

NYFTA: How is Glazed & Confused doing as a business? Do you have any exciting changes planned for the future?

Danny: We have been fortunate to experience lots of success since our first year in business which was 2015. Year to year sales have grown at over 50% per year, and each year it seems to get more comfortable and more profitable. Most people will probably slow down, but not Glazed & Confused. The immediate future will see our third donut truck hit the road, sometime early spring 2019. The bigger vision is to expand the company to the west coast. We are actively exploring (I am here doing market research right now!) the LA/Orange County markets and hope to have our first truck out there by the end of 2020.

Thank you, Danny, for answering our questions. NYFTA wishes Glazed & Confused a lot of success in the future!

 
 
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Interview of The Week: Makina Cafe

Makina Cafe’s owner, Eden Egziabher, is the first Eritrean-Ethiopian female food truck owner. Find out about some of the most interesting facts about Makina Cafe!

MAKINA CAFE’S OWNER, EDEN EGZIABHER, IS THE FIRST ERITREAN-ETHIOPIAN FEMALE FOOD TRUCK OWNER. SHE GENEROUSLY PROVIDED US WITH SOME OF THE MOST INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT HER CHALLENGING BEGINNINGS AT THE FOOD TRUCK INDUSTRY AS WELL AS THE MOST INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT MAKINA CAFE ITSELF.

Makina Cafe Eden G. Egziabher

 

NYFTA: When did you first decide to open a food truck?

Eden: The idea came about the end of 2016.  I hated my corporate job and I wanted out.  I was brainstorming of what I can actually do. I have always been driven to do something that had meaning to life while making money so one idea led to another, the concept of Makina was born.

NYFTA: What made you think of opening an Ethiopian food truck?

Eden: I saw the potential. I realized our food was gaining popularity and having a business background I wanted to bring that to the mainstream.  I wanted to introduce the culture that I love so much to the rest of the world through food.

NYFTA: How long have you had Makina Cafe for?

Eden: Makina Cafe opened Aug 12, 2017

NYFTA: What does your typical working day look like?

Eden: My days change. In the beginning, I was the driver, the cook, and the cleaner.  I was averaging about 3-4 hrs sleep. A few months into the business I got very sick. The doctor pretty much said I couldn’t continue to do what I do.  Between the stress, physical labor and lack of sleep, I was only going to get sicker. So I pulled back a little. Nowadays, I get up, run small errands, then be on the truck before open, have a team meeting, then open for service.  After service, I go back to commissary (where the truck is parked), check truck is clean, quality control, go through inventory, load everything up for the following day (the truck leaves super early to get the proper parking spot for the day, so we have to do everything the night before). Then usually in the evening is my office hour (take care of finance, marketing, operations, email correspondence, etc, pretty much behind the scene work).

NYFTA: How did you put your menu together?

Eden: I’ve worked in different restaurants and observed different habits of American eating.  I wanted to bring certain dishes that highlight the best of our culture but at the same time attract the general American public. I picked recipes that also have a lot of health benefits.  I knew I wanted to cater to a lunch crowd, so I studied what people ate for lunch especially in midtown and picked items that have a lot of flavors, are healthy and affordable, and just overall different.

NYFTA: How often do you change/add items to the menu?

Eden: Our main menu remains the same. We don’t’ have too many things on the menu since its a food truck and our priory is not quantity but quality, but we do have a couple of things as a special every week that we rotate, so it gives people something to look forward too.

NYFTA: How did you test the menu? Friends? Family?

Eden: I chose a different approach. I wanted my food to be as authentic as possible, so I tested this with moms (they seem to be a harsh critique), but at the same time I wanted to cater to main steam, so I tested the market on some friends that have never tried Eritrean/Ethiopian food.  They tasted it, provided me with their feedback, and I listened. I had to adjust a few ingredients that staple for our cuisine, but from a healthy perspective, they’re not so good. I had to get creative in how to achieve the same flavors without the same calorie content. The last thing I tested was the spice level. For some reason, people assume that Ethiopian food is too spicy, and I was not a good judge of that since I grew up on it.  I invited a few people that I knew were sensitive to spicy foods and I made them try every dish on the menu to gauge the spice.

NYFTA: What do you think makes your menu items better than others?

Eden: We pay extra attention to quality and consistency.  I am susceptible to and connected not only to my business but to my product, too. Quality is a big deal. I build everything (food, staff, design, etc) from a customer point of view.  I looked at it: “If I was a customer, what would I pick? Would I eat Ethiopian food? What is Ethiopian food? Is this truck approachable? Is the menu easy to understand? Would I want to eat this for lunch?” I asked all those questions, and I believe that having an understanding of customer needs helps me to deliver the best product to a customer.

NYFTA: Do you have any exciting changes planned for the future?

Eden: We do actually.  We’re going to be open for dinner and on weekends starting this spring. We are also working on gluten-free injera. Injera is our sourdough bread that’s thin, soft and spongy. By nature, injera comes gluten free, but most of the time flour gets added to it. It has been a challenge to find a 100% gluten-free injera, but we are working on supplying our business and selling it to customers since we have been asked about gluten-free option a lot.

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Top 10 Tastiest Food Trucks That You Can Find in NYC in 2019

As the New York City’s food truck scene has become increasingly enormous, trying to find the best food can sometimes feel impossible. Our NYFTA team has done all of the heavy-lifting for you and has taste tested almost every food truck in NYC.

As the New York City’s food truck scene has become increasingly enormous, trying to find the best food can sometimes feel impossible. Our NYFTA team has done all of the heavy-lifting for you and has taste tested almost every food truck in NYC. After our sampling, we have come to a conclusion that’s worth sharing. Next time you’re trying to decide which food truck to pick to get the best food, service, and value, we have you covered!

Abeetz-pizza wood fire pizza catering westchester

 

ABEETZ – WOOD FIRED PIZZA

Making pizza as authentic as authentic can get, Abeetz pizza truck is our #1 pick when it comes to pizza. Founder David D’amico managed to bring together his passion for pizza and his family history to create one of the most successful food trucks in NYC. All you have to do now is to decide, whether you want to want to eat your pizza straight, folded, or use silverware 🙂

Tip: Abeetz makes an Avocado Toast personal style pizza. Need we say more?

Big D's grub truck catering Brooklyn

 

BIG D’S GRUB – ASIAN FUSION

It’s very likely that you’ve spotted one of Big D’s trucks in action serving the hungry crowds of New Yorkers. The Chef and Owner of Big D’s, Dennis Kum, converts his passion for food into amazingly tasty, flavorful food creations that are an absolute must try!

Tip: No need to wait till next Tuesday to get Big D’s Spicy Chicken Tacos! Also, their Bulgogi Rice Platter is just FLAVORSOME!!

 
Disos nyc food truck catering Queens

 

DISO’S – ITALIAN SANDWICH SOCIETY NYC

If you are an Italian sandwich lover, then Diso’s is the food truck for you. Adam DiSilvestro, a.k.a. Diso, grew up with Italian parents and there is no doubt he exactly knows what a classic Italian sandwich is about. Diso makes his sandwiches using imported Italian meats and cheeses sourced from famous DiPalos in Little Italy, NYC. Diso’s truck was also featured on Food Network’s TV show Great Food Truck Race.

Tip: Vinny Chins, Joey Shakes, or Eddie Mush are among the top picks that we love!

El toro rojo food truck Astoria

 

EL TORO ROJO – MEXICAN

In Mexico, street food is a part of their culture, and since Gabriel Apreza and his children opened their truck, it has become a part of our culture, too. El Toro Rojo brings homemade Oaxacan Cuisine to the streets of NYC. They believe in simple, locally sourced dishes, with quick service and consistent quality. Their menu consists of Tacos, Burritos, Quesadillas and Fajita bowls, all which are just to die for.

Tip: You can pick from six protein options – Chicken, Steak, Al Pastor, Chorizo, Shrimp or Carnitas. You can also go meatless, just veggies.

Mini Donut Food Truck

 

GLAZED & CONFUSED – FRESH MINI DONUTS

You’re going to go nuts for these donuts – guaranteed! In a case like this, size doesn’t matter as much as the quality and experience. Lifelong friends Dan and Larry founded Glazed & Confused in 2015 with a simple goal: Bring their delicious & made-to-order mini donuts to the streets of NYC! Served by the tray, their signature donut combos are always a huge hit.

Tip: Flavorssuch as doNutella and S’mores are their customers favorite. For those over 21+, you can ask for their boozy seasonal flavors 🙂

Makina Ethiopian Eatery

 

MAKINA – ETHIOPIAN & ERITREAN EATERY

As a first food truck of it’s kind in NYC, Makina will surely bring you a whole new culinary experience. Offering both meat and vegetarian/vegan options, Makina Cafe gives a slice of Northeast African culture to the city of New York while giving warm & welcoming service. Their big yellow truck will surely make your day a bit brighter (and more delicious!)

Tip: Makina truck gives you an option to choose and create your own plate. P.S. Their Beef Sambusa is fantastic.

Nuchas nyc empanadas truck

 

NUCHAS – EMPANDAS

In 2009, Ariel and his wife (Leni) arrived in New York City with two things: $9,000 and a dream! A few years later, a kiosk in Times Square to award-winning empanadas, Nuchas has taken this handheld food to another level and became the empanada king of New York. Nuchas truck serves unique flavors like Italian sausage and pepper, spicy cheese, and Seitan Al Pastor. These empanadas are freshly baked (not fried!)

Tip: Team Nuchas recommend to get about 3-4 empanadas per person to get one full meal. What a great opportunity to try a whole bunch of flavors.

Phils steaks food truck

 

PHIL’S STEAKS – PHILLY CHEESESTEAKS

Phil’s Steaks is NYC’s 1st Authentic Philly Cheesesteak Food Truck and quickly amassed one of the largest followings around. With a combination of high-quality beef ribeye and freshly baked rolls shipped directly from Philly, this truly is the most authentic cheesesteak you can get without actually going there. American Steak, Pepper Steak, Shroom Steak… you can never go wrong with this classic Philly sandwich.

Tip: You will probably hear Phil using the word “Jawn”. That’s how they like to call their truck. For those that don’t know, the word “Jawn,” is Philly slang – a noun that can replace just about anything and everything.

Souvlaki GR Greek Food Truck

 

SOUVLAKI GR – GREEK

One of the only true classic Greek trucks in New York City, Souvlaki GR has been serving their delicious kabobs and gyros to the hungry people of Manhattan since 2010 when they won the Vendy award for Rookie of the Year. The following year they won the Vendy Peoples Choice Award as well as The NYC Food and Wine Festival People’s Choice award.

Tip: Charcoal-grilled meat inside a warm pita, with a slice of tomato, red onion, tzatziki sauce, and french fries INSIDE – Chicken Souvlaki Pita is out hot pick.

Wafels & Dinges Food Cart Catering

 

WAFELS & DINGES – BELGIAN WAFFELS

So the story goes… In 2007, King Albert II of Belgium mandated the Belgian Ministry of Culinary Affairs to bring his authentic (and very scrumptious) Liege & Brussels waffles to the NYC streetsAnd so, the first Wafels & Dinges yellow food truck was born! The goal: Give America’s “Belgian Waffles” a serious upgrade. Wafels & Dinges is arguably the most award-winning truck in New York City, including the following prestigious titles: Best Dessert, 2009 Vendy Awards + Winner, 2010 Throwdown with Bobby Flay + Best Dessert Truck in America, 2013 The Daily Meal.

Tip: WAFELS & DINGES truck is so good, people like to rent it for weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, office parties, and all sorts of events. Everyone ♥s the Wafels & Dinges!

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