Many mobile eateries on Main Campus boast their fare is made fresh daily. Some owners try not to let the extra food go to waste.
Even after the lunch trucks close at the end of the day, the quiet hum of freezers can still be heard.
To avoid waste, most truck owners keep meats and other items frozen over night. Most dishes they serve are made to order, according the owners of TJ’s Corner, Silver Eagle and Chicken Heaven.
At TJ’s Corner, which parks on Montgomery Street between Broad and 13th streets, the most popular meals are made with chicken. Approximately 120 pounds of chicken are ordered each week, all of which is kept frozen and prepared to order.
“It takes a little longer, but it’s safer, and you don’t waste,” owner Kevin Doan said.
The Silver Eagle, which also parks on Montgomery Street between Broad and 13th streets, is known for its falafel, cheesesteaks and gyros. Of these customer favorites, 15 to 20 platters are sold, said Nejla Yakarisik, who owns and operates the truck with her husband, Ismail.
At the end of the day, unused items get thrown out, with the exception of meat. The pair goes shopping every day at 5 a.m. for bread and other fresh ingredients.
Next to the Silver Eagle, Chicken Heaven keeps its chicken frozen.
“[But the] lettuce, fries and stuff, we throw away,” owner Kenny Bagcien said, adding that since Chicken Heaven has been around for a long time, the staff “just know” what quantities of items to order.
At the Sexy Green Truck, owner Selim Zeka said the goal is, “to keep everything fresh. If anything is extra, we give it to the poor people.”
Zeka takes the extra food to a spot at Second Street and Girard Avenue, but Zeka said, “It doesn’t happen every night, you know what I mean?”
The Foot Long, which parks on 12th Street between Norris and Montgomery streets, makes food to order. Owner Sylvia Ndrew said she takes home whatever items are left at the end of the day.
“We have a lot of neighbors [and] friends,” Ndrew said.
“After working at the truck for 25 years, you know how to gauge what sales will be like,” Ndrew added. “The first two weeks tell you what the students will be like. This year is a lot healthier – more vegetables than last year.”
Adjacent to the Foot Long is the Tepanyaki truck, where the owners also take leftover food home, owner Jong Kim said.
“We take it home and eat it the next day. If we don’t eat it the next day, we throw it away,” Kim said.
At Insomnia Cookies, whatever is left unsold when the truck closes at 2 a.m. goes home with workers.
“There’s usually a decent amount,” worker Michaela Rucci said.
Eppy’s, the first truck east of 13th Street on Montgomery Street, is a few trucks down from Insomnia Cookies. Tien Hong, who owns and operates the truck with her husband, said the couple usually orders just enough.
“Know just how much customers you have,” she said. The busiest times are at the start of the semester and the beginning of each month, when people get paid, Hong said.
Weather also plays a role in how well business goes on any particular day.
“We watch the weather every day,” Hong’s husband said.
Rosella LaFevre can be reached at email@example.com.