San Antonio: Toastie Buns… Restaurant on Wheels

By Jennifer McInnis |

A lot of hard work has quickly paid off for Dominic Chacon. The 23-year-old culinary student at St. Philip’s College successfully opened his first restaurant on wheels — Toastie Buns.

Chacon originally wanted to become a pastry chef, but he started cooking for his grandmother when she was diagnosed with diabetes nearly four years ago and wouldn’t eat the food at the senior center.

Other residents tasted the food he prepared and loved it so much, Chacon started his own company, Catering by Dominic.

“I just fell into it,” he says.

His grandmother’s favorite dish is his soup.

“She loves my soup because every time she’s not feeling well, I make her some chicken soup with the green chile that I have. It’s just to die for,” he says.

He later cooked for his father-in-law and his wife’s grandfather when they were receiving treatments for cancer.

Chacon says he used to joke about converting his father-in-law’s construction truck into a food truck.

“I told him I wanted to cut a hole in the side of it, and he was like ‘What, cut a hole in the side of it?’” Chacon says.

He inherited the truck in November 2008 after his father-in-law’s death and started converting it into a food truck, although, at the time, he didn’t know what he was going to do with it.

“I think he’d be very proud of me now that it’s functioning,” Chacon says of his father-in-law. “He’s probably laughing at me because I cut four holes in his truck.”

The conversion took six months, and Chacon wanted to prepare a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches, inspired by Melt in Ohio. He decided to simplify and make burgers.

He asked friends on Facebook to help him come up with a name, settling on Toastie Buns, a combination of two suggestions.

Then, he chanced upon a story in the Express-News about Boardwalk on Bulverde, the city’s first mobile vending park, which was opening on his side of town. He immediately called the owner, Cameron Davies.

“I woke him up at 12:30 at night, and we became friends right off the bat,” Chacon says.

Toastie Buns opened for business at the grand opening for Boardwalk on Bulverde, 14732 Bulverde Road, and Chacon says he loves it because it allows him to sell food outside.

“I’ve never really had a restaurant job. I go out to eat quite often. I see the same type of crowd when I go,” Chacon says.

“At a food truck, on the other side of the window, I see a different type of crowd. It’s a foodie crowd.”

Several groups of customers have commented about how they used to drive to Austin once a week to try food trucks, but now they don’t have to.

The restaurant has a small menu for now, serving basic burgers with a choice of toppings and cheeses. Chef’s specials offer the New Mexican, a burger with Hatch green chiles; a veggie burger made with a portobello mushroom; and the Wakin’ Bacon, a bacon and egg sandwich. Sides options include fresh-cut fries, chips or corn salad.

Chacon is still in school, taking classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. But, he says, it doesn’t feel like school — rather, it’s more like hands-on training.

“We take restaurant management, purchasing, sanitation class … it’s trained me from A to Z,” he says.

He finishes class around 10 a.m. Then, it’s time to make the burgers.

He already has plans to open two more trucks — a second Toastie Buns and an Italian mobile kitchen.

“Then, I can play with my food,” he says. “With Italian, I can do some nice stuff and show off my skills.”

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