Pacific Drives Business with a New Food Truck

By Liz Sullivan, Project Assistant

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, left to right: Michael Venckus, regional manager; Aaron Davis, student and contest winner; Sia Mohsenzadegan, general manager; Steve Jacobson, associate vice president of student life

The food-truck craze has taken the U.S. by storm, and Bon Appétit at University of Pacific in Stockton, CA, wanted in on the action — and to solve the problem of feeding students in out-of-the-way part of campus. recently wrote about  the overwhelmingly positive student response to a new Bon Appetit venture — a bright orange food truck called e.a.t. that rolls up 20 minutes away from the other campus eateries.

The e.a.t. truck, which stands for “easy artisan takeout,” provides not only delicious, healthy, and convenient meal options for busy students, but also a vehicle (pun intended) for Bon Appetit’s commitment to sustainable food systems. The truck gives students the sustenance they need for an action-packed schedule, and supports the surrounding community by using locally sourced products to create healthy made-from-scratch meals.

Bon Appétit Executive Chef Marco Alvarado has created a creative menu that includes breakfast and lunch options, and the truck has rapidly become popular on campus. Originally expected to serve around 200 students a day with affordable, innovative food, word has gotten out, and that number is currently hovering around 300, reported Even staff have even been known to trek across campus to enjoy the affordable and tasty eats.

After the idea was conceived and logistics were worked out, the truck itself came together rather quickly. Purchased in summer 2010, it took only three months for the truck to be outfitted with commercial-grade restaurant equipment, including a two-basket fryer, a flat-top grill, two burners, four steam tables, refrigeration, storage, a food warmer, a grab-n-go display, and even a point-of-sale system. The POS system was critical, as the article explains: for many students, the ability to quickly swipe their meal plan cards or a major credit card makes the truck especially user-friendly.

Bon Appetit strives to engage with the needs of the communities we serve. In some places, a static café is perfectly fine; in others, a mobile eatery could be the answer. With e.a.t., even the exterior design of the truck was community driven. Regional Marketing Director Kari Menslage tells us that a campuswide contest called “Bling My Food Truck” yielded the bright citrus-themed design and netted UOP student Aaron Davis $1,000 and the prestige of being voted the winner by his campus community.

The truck is an interesting venture into a new wave of dining models and should provide a useful case study for others considering the idea.