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Hot Off the Press: New panini truck to open in May - INTERVIEW

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

A new food truck is scheduled to hit the streets in the final week of May, as Nicole Burke’s Hot Off the Press food truck will vend panini—the hot-pressed Italian sandwich that can be churned out quickly.

Burke, who owns a degree in marketing from Hilbert College but also spent time at St. Bonaventure, has spent the last nine years—since she was 16—working at Pettibones Grille & Catering, the in-stadium restaurant at Coca-Cola Field in downtown Buffalo.

When her hunt for a marketing or advertising job didn’t bear fruit, Burke chose to follow her dream: to start her own business and hopefully evolve into a full-blown restaurant in the future. At the First Niagara Center on May 28—Burke’s tentative start date—her culinary quest will become a reality.

In the meantime, Burke is taking the necessary measures to be prepared for her start. She visited Miami to examine trucks at Food Cart USA, a food-truck specialized company that custom-builds mobile food vehicles to the owner’s taste.

Taking advice from the Roaming Buffalo’s Christopher Taylor when she had questions regarding the truck business, a more-prepared Burke will travel down to Miami on May 14 to have the truck wrapped in the design pictured below.

Following the advice of Western New York Food Truck Association attorney Mitchell Stenger, Burke will hold off on purchasing a City of Buffalo food truck permit until the fee is reduced from $1,000 for 15 months to $800 for a year (then $500 renewal), which is expected to take effect soon.

While she’ll occasionally vend in the city, Burke’s focus will be on the Southtowns. Buffalo’s fleet of food trucks has congregated regularly in the Northtowns—if you haven’t caught up with the news, there’s a fiasco in the Town of Amherst that Artvoice’s Alan Bedenko wrote a diatribe about—but only the Roaming Buffalo (East Aurora, Bills games) and Lloyd Taco Truck (occasionally OP, Bills games) head to the south.

“I hope to stick to Orchard Park, Hamburg and West Seneca,” the Hamburg-born Burke said. “Food trucks are brand new to Hamburg, and the Town of Hamburg—like Amherst—is trying to figure out its food truck restrictions.”

More specifically, Hot Off the Press will likely serve at Bills games, outside the car dealerships in Orchard Park, Hamburg High School on Friday afternoons, medical parks in OP and bigger businesses in Hamburg.

Though Burke will face the same obstacles that Roaming Buffalo, Lloyd Taco Trucks and RnR BBQ confront—namely serving duplicating fare of brick-and-mortar (stationary) restaurants—she’ll largely be a food truck trendsetter in the Southtowns, which could be good or bad, but will more than likely be a mixture of both.

She’ll have to contend with local legislation that will only—at least initially—affect her, but she’ll have as broad of a customer base as she wants, as well as the intrigue of large businesses when a food truck appears in their parking lots.

Burke (pictured, right) expects to offer four or five different panini per day, and a few of the varieties she mentioned to me were a Buffalo chicken panino, a chicken bacon ranch panino, an artichoke chicken panino, and vegetarian options in the veggie pizza-nino and the spinach ricotta panino. (For those raising eyebrows about the word “panino,” it’s the singular form while “panini” is plural. Paninis is technically incorrect.)

Meal options include a choice between two side salads and a dessert offering as well. An individual panino will run for $6, Burke anticipates.

Additionally, the prospective food truck owner will offer tater tots with a variety of dipping sauces—which, for me at least, is a highlight of colossal proportions—and don’t underestimate the quality of Burke’s ingredients.

While all of Buffalo’s food trucks source locally—is there any other way?—Hot Off the Press will boast produce, meat and cheese from Braymiller Market, 6936 Gowanda State Rd. in Hamburg, as well as a variety of bread from locally-famous Costanzo’s Bakery, 30 Innsbruck Dr., Cheektowaga.

Best of luck to Burke, who hopes to be a trend setter for food trucks in the Southtowns. How will she be received?

(Header photo courtesy of Flickr / stevendepolo).

TAGGED: christopher taylor, food cart usa, food trucks, hot off the press, mitchell stenger, nicole burke, panini, panino, southtowns, western new york food truck association

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