honest food

CULTIVATED WITH RESPECT

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Frank says...
31 Jan

Part II

The last five years have been pretty incredible. And while we like talking about all of the fun stuff, there have been plenty of nightmares. In Part II of this series, we take you thru some of the scariest moments we experienced driving the food truck.

Red Light

It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon. Frank and I had just finished a lunch service on Essjay Road in Williamsville – about ten-minutes from our commissary. We were both in good spirits. It was a busy lunch, there was a line, we didn’t yell at each other, and all of the equipment turned on and worked properly.

Well, for the most part.

On our way back to the kitchen, we were driving down Sheridan Drive, towards the intersection at North Forest, when Frank stepped on the breaks. I heard his foot hit the floor. The truck wasn’t slowing down. And the light was still red.

I sat in the passenger seat, literally, helpless. I didn’t know what to do. So, I closed my eyes and prayed – something to the effect of “please Lord, this is not how it is supposed to end.”

Frank had no choice but to lay on the horn and go thru the red light. The next thing I know, we’re heading straight towards Harlem Road.

It wasn’t looking good, folks.

I managed to collect myself and, in a moment of clarity, told Frank, “Get on the thruway! We need to get on the thruway right now!” The poor kid, visibly nervous and shaken, looked right at me and yelled, “Have you lost your damn mind?” I yelled back and said, “just {expletive} do it!”

Fortunately, he listened.

We couldn’t stop and we didn’t have money for a tow truck. So, our only chance was to get on the thruway and exit right in front of our mechanic’s shop on Delaware Avenue in the Town of Tonawanda.

When I saw the sign for Amton Motors, I started screaming “you’re gonna do it, Frank!”

He took the Delaware Ave exit ramp and pulled his foot off the gas – all that stood between us and the driveway was oncoming traffic.

Somehow, Frank timed it perfectly and we got the truck into the driveway. It came to a stop two feet from the garage door.

What a day.

 

Food Truck 911

One summer night, a house fire broke out on Elmwood Avenue near Lafayette – directly across the street from where we set up for dinner service. At the time, Frank smelled something burning outside of the truck. For a minute, he actually thought it was our truck on fire. Early on, we always just assumed the worst because he and I have the worst luck.

When Frank hopped off the truck to see what was up, he saw a front porch on fire. People were taking pictures and videos on their phone. Frank called 911. While he was on the phone, the house blew up in flames and the neighborhood quickly filled with a thick, dark smoke.

We had no choice but to end service early.

As we were finishing up our final orders, firetrucks came blitzing down the street. All of a sudden, we felt a BOOM! The truck moved and Frank stumbled right next to the fryer. I looked out the driver side window and saw a firetruck pressed up against our food truck. I got out of the truck and found our front bumper literally attached to the firetruck.

None of that mattered. The fire truck continued down the street, dragging our food truck some five or six feet. I feared that the it was going to rip the bumper and generator off of the food truck; destroying Frank. So, I started pushing our bumper in the opposite direction. What a sight to see that must have been.

Paul vs. the firetruck

Some how, by luck, physics or my brute strength, forces disconnected the trucks from each other.

There were serious damages to the food truck. The house burned down. People got pissed at us because we ended service early and stopped serving hot dogs.

It should have been a great night.

It was not.

 

The Skyway

During the summer, the Outer Harbor is one of the best venues for food trucks. Beautiful weather, concerts, and festivals all on the water.

When we started driving the truck all over town, we naively thought that the Skyway was the only way to get out to the Outer Harbor – which, in a food truck, is truly terrifying. Frank and I to this day, hold hands, pray, and chant kumbaya while driving over the Skyway – it’s a religious experience unlike anything else.

After slinging dogs all day at Edgefest, the truck didn’t turn on at the end of the night.

Sigh. This always seemed to happen. It was a sick pattern of having a great service and even some fun, only to then experience some type of mechanical problem – this time, of all places, in the middle of nowhere.

Frank and I tried to stay calm. The last thing we wanted was to have it towed. After about fifteen minutes, the truck turned on and we booked it out of there.

Everything seemed well as we entered the on-ramp heading back into the city.

Well, it wasn’t.

We got half way up the ramp when the entire truck went completely dark. It was as if somebody pulled the power cord. Everything turned off – lights, blinkers, everything.

Frank tried his best to muscle the truck over to the shoulder (he only had about eight feet to work with) but the steering wheel locked and the truck started slowly rolling backwards.

In that moment, Frank starts yelling, “Paul, jump!”

I started yelling back at him. There was not a shot in hell I was jumping out of anything. If we were going down, we were going down together.

About a minute later, the power came back on and the truck started moving again.

We went for it and made it over safely… and we headed straight down Delaware Avenue to the mechanic’s garage.

And then we had to call our dad to pick us up at 1am.

Forget Google Maps, we have since found an easier, more peaceful alternative route to the Outer Harbor – we call them the back roads!

 

Miracle

In the beginning, it was just Frank and I pushing ourselves to the point of complete exhaustion day in & day out. And one day, it nearly cost us everything.

We were on our way back to the kitchen after a food truck event at the Albright Knox. It was humid out and we were both exhausted – completely shot.

To get back to the kitchen, we always took Elmwood to Nottingham to Amherst Street, make the left on Starin and then hit Kenmore Avenue.

This time, Frank accidentally made a left onto Colvin from Amherst. It was dark out. We were both in a good mood, just chatting it up. I remember him making the turn, but I didn’t make anything of it in the moment. The next thing I knew, complete darkness overcame the truck. I thought we were in a tunnel. It lasted for just a moment. All of a sudden we were at the red light outside Engine 38 on the corner of Linden Avenue.

We both sat in silence, just looking straight ahead. I think we were both trying to figure out how the truck made it under the crossing.

To this day, we don’t know how. In fact, it shouldn’t have.

The height of the truck measures 11’6, but the clearance for the bridge only reads 9’1.

Unless Frank did something perfectly to avoid a catastrophe, I’m chalking it up as a miracle.

If our food truck would have got stuck under that clearance or came out the other side as a convertible, that would have for sure put an end to Frank – the truck, the vision, everything.

Fortunately, we lived to see another day.