When Katie Graziosi of Old Forge and Mario Bevilacqua of Dunmore were deciding what kind of business they were going to open, it came down to a salon or a food truck.
After two weeks of non-stop business, it‚??s clear that the 24-year-old pair made the right choice.
‚??What the Fork‚?Ě is Northeast Pennsylvania‚??s first gourmet food truck, featuring homemade recipes and handmade dishes that aren‚??t afraid to puzzle people‚??s taste buds.
‚??I actually went to school for cosmetology ‚?Ľ It was Mario‚??s dream more than I wanted to do a salon, so I said, ‚??Let‚??s do the food truck first,‚?? because I felt like it would really take off around here,‚?Ě Graziosi said. ‚??Now this is what we do ‚?? sleep, eat and think about this food truck. That‚??s all we do every day. It‚??s quite the adventure, and it‚??s taking off.‚?Ě
‚??We‚??ve been slammed. Every day since we‚??ve opened, we‚??ve had lines before we open. I‚??m running out of food before my scheduled time of closing. It‚??s a great thing.‚?Ě
Bevilacqua studied culinary arts at the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College and was interviewed for an executive chef position in Yardley, Pa., but ultimately, his heart was in more mobile ventures.
‚??Katie said, ‚??Why don‚??t you start a food truck?‚?? We actually thought about it before that, but it was kind of in passing. We played with some names for the truck ‚?Ľ the light switch went on, and we decided to move forward with it.‚?Ě
Rather than take out a loan to invest in a permanent location, they preferred to gamble on their innovative idea and take a few chances with the menu as well.
‚??I was experimenting with different cuisine,‚?Ě Bevilacqua said. ‚??I was building a brand that maybe I couldn‚??t have done as well if we were brick and mortar. I was really taking a big risk here with the name, the colors, the brand, the idea of a food truck. I‚??m really playing with the food and the customers are responding to it right now, thank God.‚?Ě
The two popular staples on the unique rotating menu are sliders with bacon jam and pulled pork taco with candy sauce, the result of three months of consistent culinary experimentation in their kitchen inspired by the poplar ‚??Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives‚?Ě show on Food Network.
‚??The sliders with the bacon jam are a huge hit,‚?Ě Graziosi shared. ‚??The candy sauce is a recipe from my grandmother, and Mario and my grandmother are the only people that know the recipe. The rest of family doesn‚??t know, and they were a little upset when they came to the truck and saw candy sauce because nobody has the recipe besides my grandmother,‚?Ě she added, laughing.
It isn‚??t just the distinctive food that has people‚??s attention, but also the clever marketing. The curious name and loud, lime green vehicle that serves as a glowing ‚??24-foot billboard‚?Ě has been turning heads in high-traffic areas like Blakely Street in Dunmore.
‚??I told Mario that we‚??re going to cause an accident. When people drive by, they literally stop their car in front of the truck and point, and then they make a big circle and come back around anyway to look at it again. They eventually stop for food,‚?Ě Graziosi observed.
The truck was already generating buzz on the virtual highway it opened, running Facebook and Twitter pages; Facebook fans jumped from 400 to more than 1,200 in a few weeks, and customers can now find menus and ever-changing locations online at whattheforktruck.com.
With successful stops at DePietro‚??s Pharmacy, Green Street Beverage and the UPS store in Dunmore, the co-founders plan to park all over Lackawanna County and possibly add more trucks in the future.
‚??I knew from the beginning that it was going to be very successful,‚?Ě Graziosi said. ‚??I never doubted it; I just didn‚??t think it was going to be as successful as it‚??s been. It‚??s beyond our wildest dreams to think that this is real.‚?Ě
What the Fork truck info: whattheforktruck.com, @WTForktruck or facebook.com/WTForktruck.