By Jeff Barron | Lacaster Eagle Gazette
LANCASTER — Pizza Cottage owner Lloyd Helber is hitting the road. He plans to start operating a food truck in a week or two and join the growing number of people operating trucks in the Columbus area.
“This is just starting to take off, and I want to be in on the ground floor,” Helber said. “We’ll be making and selling hot pizza by the slice at event locations throughout Central Ohio.”
The truck will have a staff of four and also will feature subs, soda and chips.
Helber plans to park at the Lancaster Festival, Fourth of July events and other places. However, he said he is not limiting his stops to just the regular events. He owns stores in Lancaster, Pickerington, Zanesville, Newark and Buckeye Lake and plans to open a new store this May in Circleville. Helber said he will visit each location to learn about local events the truck could go to.
“When you go to a big city, you see food trucks everywhere,” he said. “San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, they all have them. But this is all new for us.”
Helber has gone to several events in Columbus to learn more about the food truck business. The 24-foot truck was customized in Jacksonville, Fla., and is ready for use.
Helber said he decided to buy the truck about three months ago. He said the truck also will be good advertising for the Pizza Cottage chain, as the truck is emblazoned with its logo. Additionally, the truck could be pressed into service if power goes out at one of the store locations, since it has a generator. The truck also has a complete kitchen and a water tank.
Helber is leaving open the possibility of adding more trucks someday.
“Hey, I’d like to have 10,” he said. “But let’s see how this one works out first.”
Helber said food trucks have become popular, as more young people like to get their meals quickly instead of sitting in a restaurant.
“It’s just a new lifestyle,” he said. “You want to be able to move and eat on the run.”
Pizza Today magazine ranked Pizza Cottage No. 7 on its list of the top 100 independent pizza businesses with $11.4 million in gross sales in 2012. The company was ranked No. 14 in 2011.