Gourmet lunch spot rolls into Derby

Dad's Food Truck is open on Roosevelt Drive in Derby.

Dad’s Food Truck is open on Roosevelt Drive in Derby.

A new gourmet lunch spot has rolled into Derby, literally.

Dad’s Food Truck, owned by Derby native Lou Granato, opened its doors, or rather its service window, Thursday. The soft opening drew mostly friends and family, though word of mouth had spread by Friday and the truck had served about a dozen customers by noon.

“It picked up as people realized we were here,” Granato said.

Lou Granato piles bacon onto two spinach burgers Friday. – Donald Eng photo

Lou Granato piles bacon onto two spinach burgers Friday. – Donald Eng photo

The truck is on a side street adjacent to 253 Roosevelt Drive in Derby, across the street from the Yale Boathouse. The truck is open from 8 to 2 but is also available for private events. The menu for this week’s soft opening features the expected hot dogs and burgers, with a few twists.

“So far people are going for the spinach burger,” Granato said. The serving includes bacon, blue cheese, mushrooms and spinach.

Other unusual offerings include a shrimp dog, topped with lemon, butter, shrimp and chopped potato chips. Granato said he would add porketta sandwiches with broccoli rabe and provolone and a crab-topped burger offering next week.

The opening was the result of months of work, detailed on Twitter and Facebook. Granato said he purchased a 16-year-old former Snap-On tool truck with 160,000 miles on it, then went to work.

“We ripped everything out to the bare walls, then installed a complete restaurant kitchen,” he said.

The confined space was the least of his worries, he said.

“The biggest thing is that I need to be able to drive safely, so the stove and refrigerator, everything has to be secured,” he said.

Family members helped remove all of the tool company’s decals, a process that took weeks. Other modifications included propane tanks, hot and cold and wastewater tanks and food prep areas.

Granato runs the truck with Ginny Stadt, who had previously worked for him at his restaurant, Dad’s Luncheonette in Oxford, and at Granato Catering. In fact it was changes in the catering business that drove Granato into a food truck. The modern catering scene has been dominated by warehouse stores selling trays of food at rock-bottom prices.

“But food trucks are the hottest trend now,” Granato said.

And indeed they are. Once viewed as a staple of construction sites, the gourmet food truck is a cultural phenomenon. The owners use social media to broadcast their locations and specials. The gourmet truck industry has even hit reality television. Food Network’s hit show “The Great Food Truck Race” is currently casting season 4.

The truck’s limited space is probably one reason for its popularity, Granato said. Health Dept. regulations require him to do all food preparation on board, meaning whatever he uses must fit inside a tiny refrigerator and he must be able to cook in an area the size of a closet.

“Every day I drive the kitchen right up to the food supplier and load up, so everything on here is as fresh as it can be,” he said.

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