Tag Archives: building a food truck

Year 1,Week 2. Welcome to the Jungle

Besides  creating amazing food, the imagery on your food truck is probably the single most important marketing tool in your arsenal. A pink truck covered in poodles that serves cupcakes gives off a distinct vibe. An Army green,battle-scarred war wagon with tank tracks gives another.

Dave and I have been meeting with Jeff, our vinyl wrap specialist, at JK Signs in New Cumberland to hammer out some of our ideas and to get some visual cues on what Maybelline would actually look like. We believe our design is edgy, eye-catching and crystallizes Guerrilla Canteen’s military theme.

We got some roughs from Jeff earlier in the week that featured a Gorilla and it felt like something was missing.truck wrap 2


Dave summed it up in one sentence, “Maybelline should look like she drove out of the jungle after a battle.”

I looked at the monitor and spoke ” I love the color, Jeff. I like the grunge.”

“But one thing is missing…” I paused ,” Remove the monkey. ..It needs tank treads.”

After looking at photos of half tracks, Jeff chose a suitable image and quickly cropped and sized the treads to fit the rear wheel well of the step van.

Jeff sat back in his chair and said, “This is a rough idea just to see what it looks like.”

I looked over at Dave and He smiled from ear to ear.

Jeff took a breath and swiveled in his chair.” I’m really picky and hard to please.” His eyes widened,” When I’m done with this thing people are going to be touching the vinyl to see if the treads are real.”Truck rendering

I  felt really excited to finally see some progress on the wrap.  Silently I thought,

” Welcome to the Jungle.”



Year 1 week 2 Do the Hustle

Excited after having a successful soft opening, Dave and I looked through the comment cards to gauge our performance. ” This one is all 10’s.”, Dave laughed as he held up the Guerrilla Sauce stained paper. Glancing over his shoulder, I recognized my Mom’s handwriting and dismissed it without telling Dave my secret. ” Another one with all nines and tens”, Dave grinned.  As the pile got smaller and we read the results (Best burger ever! Loved the food. You guys rock) it dawned on me. Dave and I did a really good job on our first outing in the food truck. People enjoyed our food and had a great time and Dave and I felt the pride of having our dream come to fruition. That evening after the high-fives and the euphoria of accomplishing our goal, I felt satisfied and stared at the ceiling fan in bed and dreamed of thousand burger food festivals and hundreds of people buying our food.

Dave and I met on several occasions after the event and quickly got to work on securing permits and finding events for us to sell. Our first official calendar date is July 8 but we have a lot of things to accomplish before we are ready to sell. The truck is inspected by the Department of Agriculture of Pennsylvania,  our permits are secured to sell food in Hershey and everything is in place to hit the streets except for three details.

  1. Maybelline needs to get a vinyl wrap  complete with logos, bullet holes and tank treads.
  2. We need a second fridge installed so that we can do volume sales
  3. We need places to sell.

Owning a food truck is teaching us the value of what I like to call “Hustle”. No, it’s not the sleazy Times Square (ca. 1975) Three card Monte hustle designed to steal money from tourists. You hustle while serving food or prepping eM.P.anadas. You Hustle by sourcing quality ingredients at low prices. You hustle by fostering relationships. We are meeting with event organizers, fire hall chiefs, local businesses and anyone who will listen to us.

Van McCoy and the Soul City Symphony had a hit in the summer 1975 entitled  “The Hustle”.  It went to number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Soul Singles charts and won a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Performance. The song has two lyrics in its annoying 4 minutes and 10 seconds. The chorus is ” Do the Hustle” and during the intro they say “Do it”.  It’s a pretty good philosophy.  Nike stole the ” Do it” part. I’m stealing the “Do the Hustle” part. Hell, if you buy a Guerrilla Burger from us, I’ll sport a beige leisure suit and boogie down the Soul Train line. So will Dave. Sing along now!  Do the Hustle!  Doot-Doot-Doot-Do-Doot-Da-Doot-Doot….

Day 121: Yes Virginia, There is an Appliance Fairy

Anticipation is a great thing. It heightens our senses. It gives us something to get excited about. Remember when you were a kid and you lost a tooth and how full of joy you were to get a buck from the Tooth Fairy? Your joy wasn’t about the reward as much as the fun of anticipation. Hopefully you have anticipated this blog post. My lack of writing lately hasn’t been the result of neglect or laziness or waning focus or interest. I wanted to build your anticipation. Hopefully, I have your attention. Guerrilla Canteen is moving forward.

The Guerrilla Canteen food truck build has accelerated in leaps and bounds. A lot of amazing progress has been made and I’ve been really excited to share the news with you.

Maybelline’s service window is installed and Dave looks really good in it. Dave and I are super stoked because our dream is rapidly becoming a reality. We can almost smell the meat sizzling.

Daves new home.
Dave’s new home.
Yessirr, twenty Guerrilla Burgers right away!
Yessirr, twenty Guerrilla Burgers right away!

Another major hurdle was conquered by the D man this week. For about a month Dave has been telling me that the kitchen equipment Fairy might show up and all of our problems would be solved. I blew it off as Dave just joking around but guess what? The equipment fairy did show up and he had a huge cache of goodies for the Guerrillas including a char broiler, a four burner saute’ station, a flat top, a two basket fryer and a sandwich station. I just hope Dave doesn’t need that kidney he sold on Ebay. All joking aside, the kitchen equipment  Fairy is Dave Laman and it’s moments like this that I have to commend the guy’s stubbornness, drive and focus. Without Dave Laman, there is no Guerrilla Canteen.

Pam's Station
Pam’s Station
sandwich too
Shiny is good.
Yes Virginia, there is a Kitchen Appliance Fairy.

fryer boxes2 boxes4

Day 105: The Guerrilla Burger

With the Labor Day holiday coming on Monday, my thoughts always revolve around the grill. And what is more iconic grill fare than a burger? I love a cheeseburger almost as much as any food. To me a burger is like sex. When it’s good, it’s really good and when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.

Dave and I were in the kitchen designing a signature burger for Guerrilla Canteen and here’s what we came up with. This will be an item you can get on our truck every day, our version of the Big Mac, but better.


The Guerrilla Burger starts with a hand crafted, quarter pound of 80/20 ground USDA sirloin cooked to your liking. I suggest medium rare but Dave is in the medium to medium well camp. We take that burger and season it with a mixture of three parts black truffle salt to one part pepper and a splash of liquid smoke. The Guerrilla burger will be primarily cooked in a saute’ pan and finished  on the char-broiler. I know what you are thinking, Why don’t you put that cheeseburger right on the grill? Burgers  cooked on the grill lose most of their juices and tend to be dry. By caramelizing the beef in a pan, all the juices are locked inside creating a more juicy product. The charred effect can be achieved by simply putting the burger on the grill after the caramelization process takes place. I like the char and so do you and that’s why we are taking the time to put it there. Who doesn’t like diamond-shaped grill marks on their burger?

While the beef is happily sizzling in the pan, we will saute’ onions and green peppers in butter. Seasoned with salt and pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar, we think it compliments our burger quite well. You will too.

 The cheese. In our test we used gouda which was really delicious. Cheddar came in a close second but I have to say I think Blue cheese would be even better. Dave and I debated this point for a considerable amount of time and reached a stalemate. You can help us decide who is right by taking the poll at the end of the post.

Bacon Jam. Oh yeah! What’s a burger without  crispy, smoky, salty  bacon. It’s like Laverne without Shirley; Rocky without Bullwinkle or  Simon without Garfunkle. ( Scratch the last one, Paul Simon is doing fine without Garfunkle.) This is bacon heaven folks and you need to eat this today. You can find a great recipe for bacon jam here.

Guerrilla Sauce. No it’s not thousand Island dressing but it is our secret sauce. The recipe was discovered in a clandestine military kitchen in Area 51 and smuggled to us by a nameless source after the cold war.  It has mayo, smoked chipotle, cumin and other ingredients that are top-secret. It’s a little spicy but not abrasive and Dave and Pam said they would like to dump it on everything they eat. It’s really good. So good, that in the future we would like to put it into bottles and sell you some.

The Bun. For our test we used toasted potato rolls which tasted great. Dave and I agreed that we need to shop for a better roll for the Guerrilla Burger. We need a roll that can stand up to the bold flavors that we are throwing at you. We are searching for the perfect brioche.


I was sitting on the couch watching the news when there was a knock on the door. On my front porch stood a delivery man and a huge crate constructed out of 2×4’s and plywood with the word FRAGILE  stenciled in big  letters on the beat up plywood. “Frageelay.”, I giggled to myself feeling a bit like Ralphies Dad, Darren McGavin, in A Christmas Story. ” I smiled and said to myself, ” It must be Italian.”

Continue reading Day 106: FRAGEELAY

Day 97: Build Sheet Progress

Just to get everyone up to speed Maybelline will be in the shop for a few days getting a generator installed. We managed to find a used RV generator at a reasonable price and our builder is fabricating a box that will be mounted under the truck on the side opposite of the service window so our customers won’t have to breathe exhaust. The generator will provide electricity for interior lighting, refrigeration and a few small appliances and receptacles. I’m ordering our service window today and that should be installed after the generator. By next week our build sheet should look like this.


Install back door

Install generator

Install service window

Front end alignment and tires

To Do

Back bumper fabricated with LP Tank supports/cage

Run gas lines, wiring, receptacles, breaker box

Construct interior walls

Purchase and install hood vent/ fire supression

Purchase and install appliances

Purchase and install 4 compartment sink

Build partition between driver compartment and kitchen

Construct walls with insulation and washable surfaces

Paint and graphics

It’s nice to see the list get shorter but we have a ways to go before we can serve food. Dave is excited to order and buy our appliances; particularly the fryer since I’ve got him addicted to empanadas. I’m in love with the sandwich station and the grill.  As soon as we can. we will post pictures of the build, so stay tuned.

Day 92: Tater Tots

I’m not a food snob, really I’m not. I do enjoy using fine ingredients and eating fresh local food but there is a special place in my heart for a processed staple that has been served in school cafeterias, fast food restaurants and American dining rooms for over sixty years. I love Tater Tots. Tater Tots were invented in 1953 when Ore-Ida founders F. Nephi Grigg and Golden Grigg were trying to figure out what to do with leftover slivers of cut-up potatoes. The added flour and seasoning to the potatoes and extruded the mixture through a round hole, fried them and viola’: the iconic Tot was born.

What I like about the Tot is the texture. On the outside the potato is crispy and salty while the inside is fluffy and soft. With salt and ketchup a Tot stands on its own but as head cook at Guerrilla Canteen I’ve been looking at the possibilities of what a Tater Tot can be. The idea is to elevate the lowly Tot in a way that we normally don’t associate with it. I’m not the only person who loves and respects the Tater Tot. Americans consume seventy million pounds a year.

Continue reading Day 92: Tater Tots

Day 91: Changes In Latitude, Changes In Attitude

I apologize for not posting anything on here for five days. I was at the beach and I was relaxing with my family. I needed to recharge my batteries. I’ve been stressed about finances and impatient about the amount of time it takes to build a mobile kitchen. I’m also a little scared. What if nobody buys our food? What if the truck never gets built?  The “What ifs” have been spinning in my head like a hamster on a wheel.  Sometimes driven people need to step away. I get obsessed and sometimes so driven that a project consumes me. Then I burn out. My solution is to spend a few days on a beach with my family. When I return I’m relaxed, focused and more driven than ever. It’s a good way to remove those hamsters from my mind. Everyone needs to decompress.

ole barney
Old Barney, Long Beach Island New Jersey

Continue reading Day 91: Changes In Latitude, Changes In Attitude

Day 86: We Hired A Photographer

I had a meeting today with a photography student who is a close family friend. Morgan is a great young woman and she is studying photography with an emphasis on journalism. Morgan brings to the table a fresh eye and Guerrilla shooter skills. Her photography is professional, artistic and sharp. She is currently doing an internship with a wedding photographer. Morgan agreed to film and edit our Kickstarter film and do some still photography for marketing and the blog. Guerrilla Canteen is thrilled to have her on our project because Morgan not only is a wonderful photographer but she is also a remarkable, kind and intelligent young lady. Dave and I are really impressed with Morgan and her skill set is a perfect fit for our project. Welcome aboard Morgan!

Dave and I are going to look at a generator for the truck. The generator will power all of our refrigeration, interior and exterior lighting and several receptacles for small appliances (Food processor, steam table maybe a coffee pot) The generator is used and if it’s in good shape and the price is right we are one step closer to hitting the road.

Day 85: A Letter From Dave Laman, Owner Of Guerrilla Canteen


Hey everybody!,

This is Dave coming at you, I just want to thank all of you who have been following Guerrilla Canteen’s progress. Seeing all the hits on our social media means a lot to me. I know it seems like this is taking forever for us to start selling what we’ve been putting out on the blog but remember that, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” It seems like forever for us as well.

We are making progress though. We got the rear doors installed and we are waiting to get a generator installed and we should have the service window installed soon as well. We just want this done right and we we’re not just throwing it all in without any thought.

There’s still some work that needs to be done before our kitchen equipment gets installed but we are closer than we were three months ago. It’s progress! Stay tuned to the Guerrilla Canteen blog. It always makes me smile reading Jamie’s wisdom. The day Guerrilla Canteen opens our service window is not that far away.

Thanks again for all of you who support us. Be patient. I’m not patient but I must be!