By Levon C. Ofgang | News Times
California may have the sun, warmth and ocean, but who needs any of that when you can have a San Diego-style burrito in Danbury.
Food trucks are becoming more and more popular in the food industry these days, and The Green Grunion has brought this trend to Danbury.
Owner Paul Mannion, 33, a third-generation native of Bethel, is bringing a unique flavor to Danbury with some local and organic ingredients that, when combined, create a burrito that has attracted a cult following.
Located at 109 North St., the sunny Green Grunion truck, with a scenic seashore painted on it, is open most days for lunch, but make sure to check the Facebook page because sometimes the elements keep the truck and the burritos from rolling.
We sat down with Mannion to talk about The Green Grunion, burritos and life as a food trucker.
Q: What led you to open The Green Grunion?
A: I dreamed of having an opportunity in this industry. I think taking the chance is worth it.
Q: What is a San Diego-style burrito?
A: It is more component-based. For example, a chipotle-style burrito (which is based on the San Francisco style burrito) is big, big, big with rice and beans and then steamed and wrapped in foil. They’re good in their on right, just different. Steamed tortillas are good, there is just a little more chew than I would want.
San Diego style is pretty much this: You take the tortilla and before you serve it you throw it on the grill for about 10 seconds on either side, so you get just a little bit of texture. And they are more component-based because you don’t just put the rice and beans on it (unless you’re just doing a bean burrito). It’s more about the steak, french fries, the produce, the sauce and the guacamole.
Q: Did you ever live in San Diego?
A: Yes, for about two-and-a-half years and there are taquerias (taco shops) on every corner.
Q: Food trucks seem to be getting really popular in the industry, any thoughts on why?
A: I think I am a prime example of that. It allows you to take the chance with much less risk but at the same time, possibly a lot of reward, if you do it right. I am also working on a catering menu.
Q: We heard you use some local ingredients in your food, can you tell us a little about that?
A: One reason it’s called The Green Grunion is I strive to be as environmentally friendly and organic as I can. I know some people who own or work at some local farms and kind of help me out. As I get more established I will definitely be buying fully organic and be as sustainable as possible. I strive to make it greener and greener as I go along.
Q: How have you used social media and word of mouth to market the truck?
A: It is everything for me. As far as I’m concerned (especially at this level) I think any kind of marketing that you pay for is just a complete waste. All I do is tell people to check out the page. It’s amazing how big it has been for me, I was never a huge player in it. I have had a Facebook account here and there, but I don’t really go on it for myself. With a business I feel like win, lose or draw, if I’m out there posting, people appreciate it.
Q: What is the secret to your burritos?
A: Preparation, it’s a lot of preparation. It’s pretty cool, I use Omaha Beef out of Danbury and they have great products. I use Bell and Evan’s chicken. Be as consistent as you can be and give people what they want. They want to see freshly made food. I always thought my burritos were good and I’m so happy other people are having that same feeling. A burrito is in a league of its own.