In 1866, Charles Goodnight, a cattle herder, invented the chuck wagon. In 1890, lunch wagons came to New York City to feed the workers on the night shift. In the 1950s, the Army got into the game with mobile canteens.
In 2013, the world has moved from roach coaches to gourmet food on wheels, geo-located on your smartphone and serving high-end specialty food, and people line up when they know it is arriving. The iron chef meets meals on wheels. The only thing missing is the jingle from the old-fashioned ice cream truck.
One of our favorite rules — No. 218: Relentless pursuit and grand passion will take you further than good grades — is particularly applicable to this business, which sounds glamorous from the outside but requires long hours and perseverance in order to be successful.
Marko Pavlinovic, owner of Mangia Mangia Mobile, usually works six days a week, 14 hours a day. On a recent Thursday, he started cooking at 6 a.m. at the Kearny Mesa commercial kitchen where he rents space. At 9:45 a.m., he left for MCAS Miramar, where he served Italian specialties such as spaghetti and meatballs and chicken parmigiana sandwiches from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Then he headed back to the kitchen to load up more food and drinks for his dinner stop from 5 to 8 p.m. The day ended with scrubbing pots and pans and cleaning the truck.
In 2002, Pavlinovic came to San Diego from Italy on vacation. He ended up getting a work permit and a job as a waiter. Two years ago, he started Mangia Mangia Mobile because he wanted to translate his love of food into a business. His mother and grandmother provided the recipes, and the initial capital was $16,000 in savings. He tried and failed to get a bank loan, so he rented a truck for $2,000 a month. By the time that he had paid the truck owner three months of rent in advance, made some interior modifications, painted the truck, purchased pots and pans, insurance and food, he had $350 left on the day that he opened.
Find the entire article by Neil Senturia and Barbara Bry at UT San Diego <here>