Gyro on the go: Greek on the Street food truck launches—INTERVIEW
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • July 24, 2013 @ 3:39pm
There’s a saying that goes: “No good decisions are made after midnight.”
Don’t tell that to the owners of Greek on the Street, Buffalo’s newest food truck and first to serve solely Greek fare.
Co-owners Sam Vasiliadis, who’s owned Greek diner Serafim’s for five years, and Joelle DeCicco opened for a soft launch late Monday on Elmwood Avenue outside Acropolis—at the behest of brick-and-mortar owner Paul Tsouflidis—and surprisingly the story behind the new truck doesn’t go back much further than that.
Six weeks ago, Vasiliadis and DeCicco, his girlfriend and former helper at Serafim’s (both pictured, right), relaxed around a bonfire at 2 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, relishing the buzz of alcohol and craving a snack.
Unfortunately, few restaurants are open in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, so the duo resolved to satisfy customers who desire service at less-than-typical times: start a food truck.
“We asked each other, ‘Where can we go for food right now?’,” DeCicco recalled. “Then we agreed, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we could call a food truck and have it come over to our house and serve grub?’”
The project took root and pressed forward quickly—Vasiliadis submitted the application to start a food truck to the City of Buffalo, and they received their license in less than a month. The duo wisely applied for an Amherst food truck license simultaneously, allowing them the flexibility to serve in a larger territory from the onset.
Tracking down a functional truck was a shockingly quick task, too, as the owners scanned Craigslist and stumbled across a 1976 Ford for sale in Rochester.
Choosing a simple but eye-catching design (see below, left), Vasiliadis and DeCicco saw no reason why they couldn’t ride the food truck momentum stemming from two Food Truck Rodeos and Tuesday gatherings at Larkin Square.
After all, fewer than 10 weeks of warm weather or left before the cold—a tough environment for a new food truck—hits.
Vasiliadis will continue to own and attend to Serafim’s—which only serves breakfast, lunch and brunch—but will also have the freedom to pursue a full-time food truck schedule.
There’s no set line of stops yet, but Greek on the Street plans to open for one late-night service each week—either Friday or Saturday—in addition to daily lunches in the city or Amherst.
Vasiliadis’ Wheatfield brick-and-mortar serves as a perfect commissary, too, allowing him to oversee his brick-and-mortar while preparing ingredients for Greek on the Street.
In the meantime, Serafim’s head chef Rick Dolan will assume many of the owner’s duties at the restaurant.
“Without Dolan, we wouldn’t have been able to start a food truck,” DeCicco said graciously.
During its debut, Vasiliadis and DeCicco settled on a smaller menu to expedite the service in the truck’s first few outings. Freshly cooked beef, pork and chicken are available in several variations—open souvlaki, wraps, salads or on a stick (see below, left)—and not surprisingly, Greek on the Street’s gyro (lamb and beef) was a popular item on the first evening.
“We make our spanakopita from scratch, right down to the phyllo dough,” DeCicco explained. “Sam [Vasiliadis] makes the yogurt that goes into the tzatziki from scratch, and we cube the meats from whole tenderloins and use beef tips as well.”
While the ethnic staples are already apparent, Greek on the Street will soon offer desserts ranging from rice pudding to baklava, as well as (possibly) breakfast skillets.
Judging from the first night on the truck, Vasiliadis and DeCicco are acclimating on the fly. While Vasiliadis admitted that it was brutally hot on the truck, the two co-owners hammered out orders at a rapid rate as a line of customers gathered in curiosity.
“We focused on getting the food out really quickly,” DeCicco said. “We were told by customers that many of the trucks take a lot longer than we do, but we just wanted to serve the food hot and prepare the orders properly.”
Keep an eye out for Greek on the Street, which will likely appear at major food truck events as well as ramping up lunch service as the two owners—the truck’s only employees—get their feet wet.
(Correction: Changes have been made to adjust “Vecicco” to “DeCicco”—my mistake.)