Photos by Bonnie Manning, Feature Photographer
Want to experience a new high in superstar dining? Check out some of the local food trucks, which specialize in bringing fun meals and snacks to you and are available for parties and special events.
According to Jim “JumBy” Garigan, president of the Fort Wayne Food Truck Association, the organization was pioneered in June 2011 to advocate on behalf of all mobile food vendors.
“FWFTA is open today to new food vendors looking to learn the rules of the streets and as an organization they can rely on to represent their business with local government and the board of health,” said Garigan, who also owns JumBy’s Joint (www.jumbysjoint.com; 260-248-2563). His truck, at various locations, has been considered the first modern food truck in town and he has been credited with being the leader of the food truck movement.
“JumBy’s served 70 percent of our events with charitable organizations and we donated an average of 21 percent net sales from each event,” said Garigan. “Michelle DuCharme, my partner, was instrumental in the early and continued success of JumBy’s.”
It all began, said DuCharme, when she and Garigan were watching Food Network’s “Great Food Truck Race.”
“I said, ‘Why don’t we do this?’ and that’s how we became the first fulltime food truck owners in Fort Wayne. With our passion for food, his culinary background and my business acumen, it’s been a great ride!” said DuCharme, adding that they rely on local products, farmer’s markets and Didier’s meats as much as possible.
DuCharme and Garigan must have been doing something right because in 2013 they were presented with the Reader’s Choice “Best Customer Service” award by The Journal Gazette. Among other items, JumBy’s Joint boasts, “loaded gourmet burgers and truffle fries,” according to DuCharme.
Due to health issues, Garigan is leasing Jumby’s to Kristin Spangle for the 2014 season. The trucks will then either be sold outright or will continue as a co-op for individuals looking to enter the industry.
Spangle, who owns a catering company and runs a Columbia City event center, took over the food truck last May, after searching for just such a vehicle for two years.
“When JumBy’s Joint came up for sale last spring, I offered Jim a lease option to try it out,” said Spangle, who is still deciding if she wants to purchase the truck at the end of the lease season. “I have nine employees who assist in the truck and in the event center, with Bree LaBuda being my number- one on the truck.
“The last few months have been trial and error with menu ideas. The menu is finalized with wraps, of which we have more than 75. Weekly, six or seven different wraps, both hot and cold, are offered. Staple wraps include our bourbon-fired flat-iron steak wrap with caramelized onions and mushrooms and a smoked gouda and savory flat-iron steak wrap with a roasted garlic aioli. Also featured are the Urban Cowboy, the Scarface (Cuban) and the Funky Monkey.
“I love serving people delicious food! There’s nothing better than a returning customer who compliments us on the food or a new customer hearing about us via the grapevine that we have great food!”
Sanee Dorsey, owner of the Wise Guys Ice truck (wiseguysice.com; 260-310-3700 or 260-615-6699), bills herself Fort Wayne’s first and only authentic Italian ice vendor.
“There is nothing like us here. Although yogurt shops and ice cream parlors are everywhere, most people don’t know what true Italian ice is,” said Dorsey. “It is not a snow cone or shaved ice; it is a smooth and creamy ice similar to a sorbet. There is no dairy, so people with milk allergies have a great alternative for dessert!”
The truck gives Dorsey and her business partner Jason Rubin the ability “to go where the people are instead of a store front where customers have to find us. Our Facebook page is the best way to keep up on our truck schedule, which changes weekly. But there are a few truck rallies we do on a consistent basis with the other food trucks: Wednesday night rallies are at Redeemer Lutheran Church on Rudisill and Thursday night rallies are at Lucky Harley- Davidson at 14/69.”
Running a food truck isn’t all fun, though, said Spangle.
“Getting people to understand that this business is nothing like what you see on TV is difficult,” said Spangle. “It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had. The cost of gas, food, payroll, long hours and without the guarantee of sales, makes this business extremely stressful. But at the end of the day, I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished, and I know it’s impossible to do without my wonderful staff to help me get there.”