Utica, NY: Making A Food Truck Business from Scratch — Almost

By Philip A. Vanno  |  Utica Observer Dispatch


UTICA — Paul Sperling always has had a plan.

When the New Hartford native moved back to the area two years ago to start a healthy food truck business after 20 years as a banker in New York City, he was laying the groundwork for his latest venture — custom building mobile cuisine trucks and concession trailers.

Last fall, the 54-year-old gave up driving his three Eat Well Live Well food trucks, and teamed up with metal-workers Ryan McEwen and Jaime Thompson to form Road Kitchen U.S.A.

“I just needed to learn the food truck business from the ground up first, but I knew that this is where I wanted to be,” Sperling said. “It feels good to finally see that vision become a reality.”

Along with Sperling’s son Matthew, McEwen and Thompson have been busy modifying existing food trucks from their 1300 Broad St. location in Utica, and recently completed their first custom build — a trailer for Bone-Yard BBQ, a southern-style BBQ business that soon will be serving food on Commercial Drive.

McEwen, 33, who along with Thompson, 34, also run Mohawk Valley Welding & Stainless Steel Co. out of the same building, said the $35,000 BBQ trailer took them about six weeks to build from scratch.

Food trucks, which usually are modified from old FedEx-style delivery trucks, generally take about two weeks to complete.

“We sit down with a client and talk about what their needs are and we make it happen,” McEwen said. “Appliances, exhaust, you name it.”

With a wood-fire pizza trailer project for a Syracuse business underway and Sperling’s former Eat Well Live Well trucks modified and leased out as new eateries in Utica and Rochester, Road Kitchen U.S.A. is making its presence felt in the upstate area but has its eye on expanding.

“There is not much in the way of food truck manufacturing in the Northeast,” Sperling said. “We want these entrepreneurs in major metropolitan areas to know that we can do the job for way less, and bring manufacturing work to this area in the process.”

Road Kitchen U.S.A

Business: Customer builders of mobile cuisine trucks and concession trailers.

Founded: Fall 2012.

Address: 1300 Broad St. Utica.

Phone: 240-0740.

Website: http://roadkitchensusa.wordpress.com/

Coming up: Road Kitchen U.S.A. will have a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 3 p.m. today.