New year, new food trucks. Among them: two on the sweet side, both with feel-good missions; one with a tamale-and-lucha-libre-spaceship-riding focus; and one serving strictly mac and cheese (though not vegan mac and cheese).
The Southern Mac truck, from the Southern chef Cary Taylor (below), is being outfitted this week with all the technical stuff (running water, generator, etc). Taylor hopes to have it on the road by end of January or early February.
Taylor has toyed with the idea of a mac and cheese venture for "a few years now." He considered a stand-alone shop in Block 37. The idea stalled over time until he got to know one of his regular customers, Matt Maroni -- the driving force, literally, behind the Gaztro-Wagon naan-wich truck; and behind the proposed food truck legislation; and who, in a small-world twist, happens to be childhood friends with one of Taylor's college buddies.
Taylor told Maroni of his idea. Maroni's reaction: What's stopping you?
Taylor has tested and re-tested recipes, accounting for the fact that customers won't be eating it seconds after he dishes it out, and even sending testers home with orders to try it hours later, reheated.
At launch, Taylor will carry four to five types of mac and cheese on the truck in the $8 to $12 range (a hefty 12 ounces of pasta and 8 ounces of sauce, he says), including smoked Gouda and a crawfish and andouille number -- but not the lobster mac and cheese that's already been hyped.
"It's just not a good value," says Taylor, who will be driving the truck during the day (the restaurant doesn't do lunch). "Lobster's such a scam, anyway."
On the sweet side, there's the Sweet Miss Givings truck, which is quietly wrapping up its first official week on the streets; and the Sweet Ride truck, whose owner, Lupita Kuri, dreamed up the name in her sleep.
"I woke up, Googled it, saw there was a truck in San Francisco and called them," Kuri, 26, says. "It was right place, right time. They just found out they needed to sell the business."
In early November, Kuri flew to San Fran; she shipped the truck (below) back to Chicago a week later.
Kuri isn't a trained baker or pastry chef, but a full-time marketing assistant who loves to bake (with dreams of trading that 9-to-5 job for this truck gig). In buying the business, she also acquired the recipes, which she says she's tweaked to satisfy Chicagoans' "robust" appetites.
She'll run the truck Fridays through Sundays, offering whoopie pies ($3), mini-cupcakes (three for $5), puddings and mousse ($4) for humans and bone-shaped cakes for dogs. Unsold goodies will go to the Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, and proceeds from her pupcake sales to an animal shelter in Grayslake.
Kuri has all the proper licensing and plans to be driving next week -- or as long as it takes her to recover from the emergency tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy she underwent yesterday.
As for Sweet Miss Givings, "We just got a Twitter feed for the truck. We just have 10 followers at this point," laughs COO Dana Lieberman. (Make that 16, Dana!)
A project of Chicago House, which serves the disabled and formerly homeless, the bakery also operates a stand at the Chicago French Market. And yes, the truck is selling cupcakes - as well as muffins, scones, brownies and cookies. Lieberman highly suggests the turtle brownie ($2.50).