Surviving winter in a food truck

This winter has been tough on everyone, especially those in the food business. Dealt a massive blow — thanks to all that annoying white stuff we got — are the city’s many food trucks that hustle to sling lunch on the curb. We spoke to some mobile food workers and learned that it takes creativity, optimism and a lot of warm layers to make it work on the streets.

Can you reach the Schmear It food truck over the mound of snow? Credit: Provided
Can you reach the Schmear It food truck over the mound of snow?
Credit: Provided

Truck: Schmear It
What you’ll get: Hot bagels with seemingly endless possibilities for customizable schmears.
Dave Fine is Schmear It’s founder, and he’s seen this weather take a bite out of his customer base. “Our regulars still come out, which is so appreciated and why we strive to brave the elements every day. It’s this dedicated relationship that makes the food truck culture in Philly so special,” says Fine. He gets creative, too. “Some of our spicy items – the schmears incorporating Sriracha and wasabi – gained popularity with the cold.”

Truck: Spot Burger
What you’ll get: Hand-formed burgers with bold, compelling toppings and intriguing combinations.
“Spot Burger is a small, 4 foot-by-8-foot cart,” says owner Josh Kim. “Being in a small enclosure, you can imagine how warm it can get.” Kim also uses the trailer’s small size to maneuver around the snow and get closer to customers. “The biggest trucks need to jockey for position, but I don’t. I can park right on the curb. It’s hard to attract customers to your window when they have to trudge through snow.”

Truck: Sweet Box Cupcakes
What you’ll get: An ever-changing array of delectable sweets that you won’t want to share.
“Wear a lot of layers,” advices Gretchen Fantini, proprietor of Sweet Box. “And I tend to pace back and forth. We’ve been fortunate the past few years with milder winters. I think everyone will concur that we are all over the snow.” Frantini keeps spirits high by switching things up around the “office:” “I try to freshen it up with new daily flavors and by rotating the flavor lineup.”

Truck: Say Cheese
What you’ll get: Gooey, indulgent grilled cheeses and paninis with a sophisticated twist.
Say Cheese owner Alan Krawitz knows that dressing warm is important, but there are other factors to pay attention to. “You got to worry about water – hand-washing water, steam washing water – that can take a toll on a truck. Pipes could burst. Most trucks have diamond plate floors, and those metal floors tend to get very cold. If water spills, it could freeze. We make sure our feet stay warm and dry.”

Truck: Prime Stache
What you’ll get: Comforting sandwiches that will warm your belly fast.
“It’s a challenge to stay warm, but there are tricks to the trade,” says Prime Stache GM Dan Pennachietti. “Dress in layers, make sure the truck is insulated, basic things. Heat is mostly generated from the cooking utensils, like the grill. Turn the exhaust hood off and the heat stays in the truck. It can get to 85 degrees in there real quick.”


Find the trucks

Follow them around town and on Twitter:

Spot Burger is at 33rd and Arch, The Porch, and on Twitter @spotburgers.

Schmear It is all over: 33rd and Arch, The Porch, LOVE Park, the Navy Yard and on Twitter @Schmearit.

Sweet Box Cupcakes is all over town, with a brick-and-mortar at 339 S. 13th St. and on Twitter @SweetBoxTruck.

Say Cheese is at 33rd and Arch, The Porch, catering events and on Twitter @SayCheesePhilly.

Prime Stache is all over, plus they’ll bring the truck to you. The non-mobile restaurant is at 110 Chestnut St.; Twitter is @PrimeStache.


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