Tag Archives: food truck

Year 1 Week 3: Happy Birthday America! What it’s all about.

76Image_SCRC

This post is dedicated to SSG Montes, SSG Patterson and SSG Pernell of the United States Army Recruiting Center. Thank You Gentlemen for your service.

Standing at the grill, I carefully flipped a burger for Staff Sergeant Carlos Montes from the Harrisburg U.S. Army Recruiting Center and I thought about a fourth of July 40 years ago.

I was six years old for America’s Bicentennial in 1976. Being a kid from South Jersey’s blue-collared suburbs, I lived in the shadow of the birthplace of America. Just over the bridge, a short subway ride away, towered the dirty, racially tense City of Brotherly Love. To a fat south Jersey kid, Philadelphia was the house of the Broad Street Bullies, where the Flyers beat the Buffalo Sabres a year earlier to win the Stanley Cup. It was the home of America’s first zoo, Rocky,  the Liberty Bell, cheese steaks and Independence Hall.

Philadelphia has always been a city of contrasts. In 1976 the City placed the “Love” sculpture in JFK Plaza. That same year the city had over 700 murders and the unemployment rate was 11.3 percent. Today, Philly has the worst poverty rate of the ten largest U.S Cities but has 11 billionaires who made the Forbes 400 Richest Americans list. For every “Rocky” story  that Philadelphia gives birth, you’ll find ten stories of violence, poverty, drug addiction and despair. For every Saint Katherine Drexel or Saint John Newman the city creates, there are ten thousand pimps, drug dealers,freaks, felons, mobsters, thieves and miscreants that call Philadelphia home  . For every Margaret Meade or Issac Asimov created by Philadelphia, a thousand desperate souls never realize their full potential or find their brilliance and live their dream. Philadelphia you see, is not like America, Philadelphia is America. It’s the same scenario from sea to shining sea.

The food truck was hot as I carefully ladled and extra-large scoop of bacon jam on the roll. I desperately wanted SSG Montes to enjoy his meal. It was the most important event of Dave’s and my day. More important than making money. More important than gaining fans. More important than anything. I thought back to 1976.

I remember watching the ships in the harbour on TV. I remember parades and sparklers and block parties with tipsy Uncle Sams and Ben Franklin. I can still smell charcoal, hot dogs and beer.

As a kid, I was unaware of the heavy, social, moral and political implications of the big city. Through my eyes, I understood the historical significance of Philly but in my fragile mind, the urban experience was a kaleidoscope of fun times at zoos, sporting events, museums, fireworks, parades and parks. To me, it really was the City of Brotherly Love.

A whiff of charred burger jarred me back to 2016.

I make no apologies for Philadelphia or America for that matter. The wise old guys in triangle hats gave us a shot. America doesn’t owe you anything. Philadelphia doesn’t owe you anything. Let me make something clear:The Declaration of Independence is really specific about what God gives us. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness. These unalienable Rights are transformational. It gives the drug addict the chance to someday become the Doctor. The thief could choose to be a lawyer. The sinner can create a path to sainthood. The poor have a chance at prosperity. There are no guarantees of happiness. I think the greatest gift our country gives us is not only the opportunity to succeed, but also to fail . It’s entirely up to you.

My wife Michelle handed SSG Carlos Montes the perfect Guerrilla Burger and he shared his story.go army

” My mom brought me to America from Honduras when I was 14. To me, I associated America with great things in my childhood. In Honduras the American missionaries brought books and clothes. I had fun at Sunday school.”

He continued,” When we first came to America we lived in Florida and I was really confused because everyone spoke Spanish. I taught myself english by studying and watching television.”

” Years later, I had a good job at a law firm and September 11 happened and I couldn’t resist joining the Army. People told me that I was nuts to leave my good job to serve in the military. I felt like it was something that I had to do.”

” I’m proud to be a part of the 1% of Americans who serve in the United States Military. Ironically,  my son goes to boot camp on September 11th of this year.”

I shot a look at Dave and our eyes spoke to one another, ” That’s what it’s all about.”

 

When you’re celebrating America’s Birthday have fun. Hug your kids. Kiss your spouse beneath the rockets red glare. Enjoy yourself. Pursue your Happiness.

After the charcoal in your grill smolders to a white ash and the orange glow of sparklers lose their luster and turn sooty black, tuck your kids in bed knowing that Staff Sergeant Carlos Montes and his son are willing to sacrifice their lives to defend yours. And if you could,  in the stillness in your heart, ask your creator to keep all of our military safe. It’s the very least we can do.

 

 

 

 

 

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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….

Tasting Menu for June 9, 2016

The Guerrilla Burger: Our flame licked quarter pound beef burger is a real handful. Topped with Apple Bourbon Bacon Jam, Sauteed Onions and Peppers, Southwestern Slaw and your choice of  Maytag Blue Cheese or Sharp Cheddar. Served on a Toasted Brioche roll.

 

The Guerrilla Dawg:  Grilled Kosher Beef Frank, Apple Bourbon Bacon Jam, Sauteed onions and peppers, Southwestern Slaw and your choice of Maytag Blue Cheese or Sharp Cheddar. Served on a toasted Dawg Roll.

 

Reuben eM.P.anada: Corned Beef, Swiss Cheese and Sauerkraut stuffed inside a pastry Disco and fried until golden brown. Served with Thousand Island on the side. 

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.
boxes3
Yes Virginia, there is a Kitchen Appliance Fairy.

fryer boxes2 boxes4

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 79: SHHHHH Leaked Prop Photos From Our Kickstarter Film Project

You soldier, are being granted access to Top Secret prop photos of some of the General’s medals and patches for Guerrilla Canteen’s upcoming Kickstarter film. If you haven’t seen our concept, you can be briefed HERE. The Guerrillas hope that you enjoy the silly and outrageous nature of our future film. After all, a true Guerrilla doesn’t take himself too seriously.

Reconnaissance photo #1

The coveted and distinguished "Bronze Chef" medal. The General earned this honor for saute' techniques above the call of duty.
The coveted and distinguished “Bronze Chef and Tri Spoon” medal. The General earned this honor for outstanding cooking techniques above the call of duty. Recognized globally for excellence in the kitchen.

Reconnaissance photo #2

Smoked Salmon Unit Patch. An outfit so secretive and shadowy that  we aren't even sure what they do.
Smoked Salmon Unit Patch. An outfit so secretive and shadowy that we aren’t even sure what they do. Rumors are circulating that the General spent some time at a black site in Norway conducting operations involving smoking fish.

Reconnaissance photo #3

"Silver Chicken Medal "  for honorable service of free-range poultry.
“Silver Chicken Medal ” for honorable preparation of  poultry.

Day 77: Escargot and Kid Foodie’s

I grabbed a can of Yuengling Lager from the refrigerator at my sister’s place and wondered why there was an industrial padlock on the door. I walked out to the deck and asked my brother-in-law Chris what the deal was with the fridge. Chris smiled and drank his can of beer and replied, “I got sick of Stephen getting into the fridge and eating all of our food. He broke two child locks so I installed the padlock. It was the only solution.”

Chris and my sister Mary Frances have four beautiful, spirited, young kids. Claire is under one, Stephen is 4, Joe is 5 and C.J. is 7. It was C.J’s seventh birthday that brought my family, my brother John’s family and my parents and Chris’s mom, Connie, to my sister’s home. Our family is very close and anytime that we have an excuse to celebrate, we always get together. The celebration usually revolves around food. Continue reading Day 77: Escargot and Kid Foodie’s

Day 75: An Interview With Jamie Kramer, Founder Of Guerrilla Canteen

Editors note. The following interview was conducted by Frank Stratford on July 29,2015 at Mr. Kramer’s Hershey, Pennsylvania home.

Part Chef, part sideshow pitch-man and part philosopher, the big man sat down with me to discuss food, music, philosophy and the future of Guerrilla Canteen. Wearing a tee-shirt, jeans and a Hershey Bears Hockey baseball cap, the barefoot entrepreneur shared with me a mason jar full of green liquid with a hand written label on it that said “Hillbilly Antifreeze”. Continue reading Day 75: An Interview With Jamie Kramer, Founder Of Guerrilla Canteen