I've had the pleasure of visiting Phoenix twice; good memories. I was there once for a business meeting years ago and then, in 2001, for games six and seven of the World Series between the Diamondbacks and the Yankees. It's hard to imagine that it's already been 13 years since that last visit. And, long before the huge growth of the vibrant food truck scene there.
So, to find out more about the food truck community in Phoenix, I contacted Lance and Beth who own and operate Grilled Addiction food truck. They've been using FoodTrucksIn.com regularly so it's been fun and interesting for me to see where they're “Serving Now." And, while I'm hoping to visit them as well as other food trucks in the area later this year, I wanted to learn a bit more about them and the food truck scene in Phoenix right now!
Eric: Do both you and Lance work on the truck?
Beth: Yes, Lance is our executive chef and buyer and I do the scheduling, marketing, social media, and work the front window.
Eric: I was in Tucson just about two years ago but have not been in Phoenix since the Yankees and Diamondback played each other in the World Series. Tell me about the food scene in Phoenix today?
Beth: Well, Grilled Addiction just came on to the scene in October 2013, so we are just coming up on our 1 year anniversary. The Phoenix Valley has a vast array of culinary choices. We have some amazing restaurants in this town! You can find any type of food and at any price so the choices can be tough when deciding where to eat. Now that the Gourmet Food Truck industry is picking up speed, there are many more events and locations to choose from. We are members of several food truck groups; Best in Show Management, Ride and Dine Events AZ. and Food Truck Caravan. We have a great food truck community here. We are fortunate to have a food truck advocacy group, the Phoenix Street Food Coalition. This organization is dedicated to increasing awareness on innovative street food in the Phoenix metro area. So it's not hard to find good food anywhere in Phoenix.
Eric: What do you expect the food truck scene to look like in Phoenix in 3 years?
Beth: We think Phoenix is ramping up! The Food Truck industry in the Valley of the Sun is growing by leaps and bounds. There are some great trucks that have paved the way for many of us and more coming on board that are raising the bar and we are thrilled to be a part of this amazing industry! In 3 years it will just be bigger and better!
Eric: How far will you travel to do an event with the food truck? Will you travel as far as Tucson?
Beth: We would travel to Tucson but we just haven't found the desire to go that far when we have so many events, areas, and locations to choose from right here in the metro Phoenix area.
Eric: What did you and Lance do before owning the truck?
Beth: We worked in the corporate world. As quoted on our website: “We were trudging along in the corporate world working towards someone else’s dream at a pace that was not going to get us working on a dream of our own. While visiting with family over some good food (some delicious Lollipop Lamb Chops) and wine, we started talking about the food truck craze that seemed to be going on, and this brought on the conversation of what type of food would we put on a food truck….and the concept began.”
Eric: So that original conversation turned into a concept that you moved forward with! Tell me about the truck and getting it on the road?
Beth: We bought it on Craigslist. Someone was selling the Glendale Fire Department HazMat Truck they had purchased in an auction. It had been sitting in an empty lot, sad and all alone. It's 28 feet long, and we call it The Beast! Lance, with the help of his brother Roland, brother-in-law Chef Kevin Oakes, and nephew Erick Mountain (electrician), gutted the truck themselves and rebuilt it. It's beautiful! It’s fully equipped with professional commercial grade equipment and stainless steel throughout. We try to be as state of the art at possible! Lance's only recommendation would be to never build out a food truck in the middle of an Arizona summer!
Eric: So October was not that long ago! Is your story about your very first day on the road a fun one?
Beth: YES! We were very fortunate to have a very good friend recommend us for a catered event, before we were even on the road. Every year the Taste of Cave Creek is a big event up in our area of the woods in Cave Creek, Arizona (http://www.tasteofcavecreek.com/ ) and there was new management at Stagecoach Village where the event was to take place. Of course, with all the food vendors being at the event, there was no one to do the catering for some private parties that Stagecoach Village wanted to host. Guess who was available? It was awesome! We combined 30 years of culinary experiences on our truck (with the help of renowned Chef Kevin Oakes in Las Vegas) and it went off without a hitch!
Eric: What percentage of time does your truck do street service, catering, and events?
Beth: As Grilled Addiction grows, we have taken on many more catering and special events. Of course, we love the interaction with people on the streets; that is always interesting and engaging, but we have been fortunate enough to be able to work with many large corporate and Fortune 500 companies; IO Data, LifeLock, Girl Scouts of America, American Express, MagicBird and Thunderbird Festival Groups, Opening day of Diamondback Baseball, Spring training with the Cubs baseball club, just to name a few. We're also doing more weddings, rehearsal parties, grad parties and birthdays. So, it is a diverse and interesting variety of events!
Eric: Do you have a particularly memorable story about a reaction a customer had to your food?
Beth: One of the Cubs baseball players ate at The Taste of Cave Creek party that we catered party. He wanted to have Grilled Addiction's Pulled Pork and Coleslaw sandwich for his birthday. His wife surprised him at his birthday party with Grilled Addiction in the drive-way serving Pulled Pork! It was so fun!
Eric: In Phoenix do you find that most trucks do better when they are clustered with other trucks or when they are operating alone?
Beth: Definitely clustered! One is good, two are better and so on! Food choices make it more fun for any large group or event. Large neighborhood Home Owner’s Association groups bring in food trucks and music for Food Truck Events. One truck wouldn't do the trick Nor would it be any fun. Our food truck groups are putting together Food Truck nights all the time It brings the family out and makes for a great date night!
Eric: How would you describe your food?
Beth: Gourmet Grilled American Our signature dish, "Lollipop Lamb Chops," is a huge hit! We have followers from all over the valley who come just for our chops! Our concept is healthy eating without losing the great flavor or taste that brings everyone to the table. Fresh cooked food when you order. We buy organic when we can and local when available.
Eric: Do you have a best selling item?
Beth: Lollipop Lamb Chops and Tri-Tip Steak Sandwich
Eric: How often do you offer specials or change your menu?
Beth: We will do a Chalk Board Special, maybe some grilled veggies, grilled corn on the cob or some grilled fruit. Sometimes Chef Lance will come up with a gourmet entree' delight to appease the crowds. We do change our menu, we are always trying to improve the quality and make it better. We listen to our customers and try to provide what they like.
Eric: Is there anything else you are particularly proud of about your truck?
Beth: At Grilled Addiction giving back to the community is very important. Right now we are involved with "Feed the Hungry", a mobile program through Give.Org that is collecting donations at the truck to benefit "Meals on Wheels" and "Convoy of Hope". We also support "No Kid Goes Hungry", during the upcoming September's campaign called "Dine Out for No Kid Hungry", we will donate 50% of every Pulled Pork and Coleslaw sandwich sold.
Eric: Those sound like great initiatives! What city would you most like to visit and eat at the local food trucks?
Beth: So many! San Francisco, Austin, Santa Monica (our son and daughter-in-law live in Santa Monica and are always telling us how the trucks line up at the sidewalk on the beach. Sounds great!)
Eric: Is there a food truck that you have not eaten at that you would like to try?
Beth: There are many! We want to try them all! I just read your interview with Jeremiah and Nicole with Food to Fender in Asheville, North Carolina, and that sounds like it would be a good one!
Eric: You are using FoodTrucksIn.com regularly. What benefits do you see of it?
Beth: We love FoodTrucksIn.com! I can put all my (food) stops in at the beginning of the week and they get tweeted out automatically. Really helps with my social media. Also, FoodTrucksIn always has great information, solutions and tips to read up on!
You can learn more about Grilled Addiction and where they will be Serving Now at http://www.foodtrucksin.com/grilled-addiction