Laziza Mediterranean Grill is the latest business to jump on the food truck bandwagon, but it has a captive market in Georgia Regents University.
Restaurant owners Nader Khatib and Leigh Fletcher have secured a six-month contract with Sodexo, which operates all dining venues at GRU, to serve students and faculty members
at the Health Sciences campus while its student center is closed for installation of new cuisine options.
The 30-foot red box truck first rolled onto the Health Sciences campus last week offering an abbreviated menu that’s currently served at Laziza in Evans. Gyros, falafel and shawarma are among the Middle Eastern and Greek dishes conjured up in the truck’s fully-equipped kitchen.
“The food truck phenomenon is growing in this country,” Khatib said. “We just thought it would be a cool thing to do. It also gives us a lot more flexibility to where we can go and test new markets.”
Khatib said he and Fletcher have been floating the idea for about a year and spent the past eight months taking the truck to shops in Augusta for renovations and graphics work.
They will keep the truck parked and open for lunch during the work week on campus for at least six months. Khatib said he’s inferred from preliminary discussions with the dining vendor that the contract could be extended, along with the possibility of running an additional stand on the campus.
As he looks to expand Laziza in surrounding communities, Khatib said starting a food truck was more cost-effective than
moving into a brick-and-mortar location.
“We looked at this as an alternative to a second location only because the cost is lower,” he said. “It’s also less risky and it’s lower overhead.”
The truck is set to debut at events in October during a Spook-tacular fundraising event this weekend and a book signing later this month.
Laziza joins a slew of other local individuals and restaurants to begin operating food trucks in the past few years. The Brown Bag, Veggie Truck Market, The Deli Cart in Aiken, and establishments Rooster’s Beak and Crums on Central have all experimented with the rolling-restaurant concept.
“Everybody’s got their own little thing,” Khatib said. “We just wanted to stick with what we know.”