NORTH TONAWANDA — In just about two and a half years the Buffalo food truck scene has grown from a single pioneer in taco form — Lloyd Taco Truck — to a fleet of more than a dozen trucks offering burgers, barbecue, sweets and more. Now they're bringing their fare to Niagara County on a regular basis for the first time and giving North Tonawandans a little taste of food on the go.
It started a couple months ago when Wurlitzer Building owner, Tom Austen's son, Nick Austen, approached his father about inviting the trucks to park in the driveway in front of the building to cater to its 40 businesses, which employ approximately 350 people.
"We don't have any restaurants in the building and a lot of our tenants would love to stay" at the building for lunch, Tom said. "Most of the employees eat down in our foyer where we have a nice fireplace ... so they bring their food, and now with the food trucks it gives them the opportunity to try something different and stay on site."
Tom said his initial plan was for the food trucks to just feed Wurltizer building employees, but some of the truck operators convinced him that opening the lunch stops up to the general public through Facebook and Twitter posts was the way to go.
"It's amazing to me that all these people come," Tom said, adding that he didn't realize how unique and tasty some of the food could be. "Once you've had the food it's like, 'Wow, this is pretty good.' I'm absolutely shocked how good it is."
So far Lloyd Taco Truck, R&R BBQ Food Truck and The Black Market Food Truck have made the trek out to the Wurlitzer building to feed North Tonawandans. R&R has been there on a few Tuesdays, Lloyd on Wednesdays and the BMFT on Fridays, though that's not an official or 100 percent regular schedule.
Michael Dimmer, one of the proprietors of the BMFT truck, said he got a call from Tom asking him to bring the truck the North Tonawanda after they found success with Lloyd.
The BMFT website describes the truck's food as "homemade handcrafted and gourmet," though Dimmer said he's hesitant to "pigeon-hole" the truck into any one type of cuisine. They generally serve a selection of sandwiches, and an ever-changing lineup of arancini, soup and sides.
A sample menu featured a pork belly banh mi sandwich; housemade mozzarella caprese; chipotle shrimp and bacon with apple ginger ale cole slaw; a Cuban sandwich with roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, 1/2 sour pickle and roasted garlic aioli; zucchini-almond arancini; roasted brussel sprouts and fennel, vegetable and barley soup. The menu is rounded out with a selection of Johnny Ryan sodas.
Dimmer said he's happy to be making the transition into a more regular Niagara County stop. What makes it easier is having a business welcome them on private property so they don't have to worry about "getting in anybody's hair."
The Wurlitzer Building has "become a beacon for the food trucks in that area because it's one of the only areas we go in North Tonawanda," he said. "Anytime a new territory opens up and you get to people you don't normally serve is a great thing."
Kelly Brewer, owner of The Sweet Hearth Truck, which specializes in desserts, said she's eager to join the crew at the Wurlitzer Building. She said expanding into other areas of Western New York would perhaps "pave the way to help more people get into" the food truck business.
"People are really interested in the trucks," Brewer said. "They love having us show up at different events, different places."
To keep tabs on all the Buffalo-area food trucks, visit www.buffalofoodtrucks.com. Be sure to check the trucks' websites and Facebook and Twitter feeds to find out when they'll be making their next stops at the Wurlitzer Building, as schedules can change.
FOOD TRUCKS ON THE WEB
The Black Market Food Truck
• WEB: www.thebmft.com
• FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/thebmft
• TWITTER: @theBMFT
Lloyd Taco Trucks
• WEB: www.whereslloyd.com
• FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/pages/Lloyd-Taco-Trucks/125928887442350
• TWITTER: @whereslloyd
R&R BBQ Food Truck
• WEB: www.rnrbbq.com
• FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/RNRBBQ
• TWITTER: @RnRBBQTruck
The Sweet Hearth
• WEB: www.thesweethearth.net
• FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/thesweethearth
• TWITTER: @SweetHearthNY
For information on other Buffalo-area food trucks, visit www.buffalofoodtrucks.com