St. Cloud: Grub Truck Rolls Out Eats

Rick Gales takes the orders while chef Joel Ryan makes the food in the Grub Truck for a customer / Jason Wachter,
by Amy Bowen |
Rick Gales takes the orders while chef Joel Ryan makes the food in the Grub Truck for a customer / Jason Wachter,

A metropolitan food trend has driven into St. Cloud.

The Grub Truck started traveling the city’s streets about two weeks ago offering made-to-order tacos and rice bowls three days a week. It is owned and operated by Joel Ryan, who also owns Homestyle Catering in Eden Valley.

It might be the only such food vehicle operating in St. Cloud, said Lisa Schreifels, the city’s health director. Other mobile food trucks have had specific businesses they visit.

The concept might be new to St. Cloud, but it has taken off in other places. Metropolitan areas such as New York City and Los Angeles have hundreds of restaurants on wheels. Websites map locations of popular trucks in metro areas. Even the Twin Cities have a handful of grub trucks, Ryan said.

Food-based television shows such as “America’s Next Great Restaurant” highlight such trucks as well.

“We’d like to make it a trend in St. Cloud,” said Rick Gales, Ryan’s brother. He waited on customers who braved the wind during their lunch hour last week.

The advantages of operating such a restaurant are simple, Gales and Ryan said: Overhead costs are lower and the time to prepare the food is quicker. It also allows Ryan to sell food at places people frequent.

The Grub Truck stops in downtown St. Cloud between 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and near Hennen’s Furniture on Wednesdays.

Ryan hopes to also serve the downtown bar crowd during the weekends.

“The bar kitchens close at 10 p.m.,” Gales said. “Everyone is hungry. The kids can grab something on the way back to campus.”

Mobile food units can be licensed by either the city or state, Schreifels said. The state license provides operators the option of traveling to other localities, she said. The city licenses are only good within the city limits, she said.

St. Cloud recognizes the state licenses of trucks like The Grub Truck.

The city has issued two mobile food licenses. The two operators provide food that is made in a commercial kitchen, and then brought to different businesses in trucks.

Zippy’s Lunch Truck has taken breakfast, lunch and dinner to its business clients for 14 years. Owner John Brudwick makes 17 scheduled stops Monday-Friday.

He has a waiting list of potential clients, he said. Brudwick serves 100-150 people a day, he said.

Gales and Ryan hope they too can create such a loyal following. They announce their locations using Twitter and Facebook.

And if there’s a crowd of people somewhere, they can join it.

“It’s mobile,” Gales said. “We can go where the people are.”