By Don Cazentre | Syracuse.com
SYRAC– USE, NY — It didn’t take long for Pat Orr to decide to add a permanent restaurant location to her successful food truck business.
This week, she is converting the restaurant space inside the Imperial Gardens apartments at James and Oak streets into a “brick and mortar” location for PB&J’s Lunch Box. She expects to open on Monday.
How she got there involves the small but often close-knit food truck scene in Syracuse.
The space inside Imperial Gardens, 989 James St., was started up in 2012 by Steve LeClair of the Steve’s Street Eats food truck.. In June 2014, LeClair moved to Florida, and sold both his food truck and the Street Eats restaurant inside Imperial Gardens to his friend and fellow chef, Paul Cox.
Now, Cox is moving on. He called Orr a few weeks go, and she agreed to the deal “almost right away.”
Street Eats closed on Friday, Jan. 29. Orr, with help from Kelly Robertson and others, is giving the place a paint job and sprucing up this week.
When it reopens, as PB&J’s, it will feature many of the menu items that fans of the PB&J food truck have loved since it made its debut on Jan. 31, 2012. That includes hot dogs, fresh hamburgers, sausages, club sandwiches, wraps, homemade soups & chili and peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches.
With the new space and equipment, Orr and Robertson will add on to the list.
“We’ll be doing more comfort food,” Orr said. “Comfort food sells.”
Robertson will bring some New Orleans influence to the menu, including a take on the New Orleans-born Italian sandwich called the muffuletta.
“We’ll keep trying new things, and see what works and what doesn’t,” Orr said. “What works, we’ll keep.”
Orr hopes to fill a need for breakfast, lunch and “early dinner” on weekdays. She’s thinking of opening at 8 or 9 a.m. and operating until about 6 p.m. Monday to Friday. On Saturdays, PB&J’s may serve breakfast and lunch. It will do a lot of take-out and some delivery.
Though she’s aiming to open Monday, that could change. She suggests customers call ahead at 476-EATS (3287) to confirm the hours.
And Orr is also keeping the food truck, though that can sometimes be a challenge in the winter. She has set up in the past at such varied places as Armory Square and near St. Joseph’s Hospital, as well as the food truck rodeos at the Lyncourt Plaza.
“The truck started it all, so we’re keeping the truck,” Orr said. “This is a new adventure.”