Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Big Green Truck Pizza

My favorite shows on the Food Network are those that give me food business ideas. You'll find me viewing Best Of, Food Finds and Rocker on the Road when my schedule permits. I love it when one of these shows features a big green 1946 chuckwagon on rubber tires.

I like these shows -- I believe Al Roker's show is the only one currently in production -- because they move around the country showcasing small food businesses.

As a frustrated government worker, these shows have given me hundreds of hours of fantasy-filled viewing. I always seem to be a retirement check away from filling a food niche here in El Dorado County.

My latest business idea came to me Friday evening in the form of a 1946 International Harvester flatbed truck. Roker featured the New Haven, Connecticut based truck in the Tapas and Brownies episode.

The Big Green Truck is a self-contained wood-fired pizza oven on wheels. For $950, Douglas Coffin, a self-trained chef who’s operated a successful catering business for 15 years, will bring the truck to your home or business and prepare hand-made pizza for 50 of your closest friends or business associates.

I'm always looking business ideas. My ideal post-retirement culinary business must meet several self-imposed limitations. The full service restaurant is definitely out. I’m done with late hours and early mornings and every hour in between.

My concept has to fill a local need -- one that's unique to the local area. The idea must sell and not cost a fortune. And it must be operated with two or three employees.

I have no illusions about starting the next culinary empire in Northern California. Ideally, my concept will be centered around on or two products -- like Coffin's handmade pizza, galeto and cappuccino.

That's where the Big Green Truck comes in. It gave me an idea for a local catering business. More correctly, his idea confirmed an idea that I've had for some time now. All I have to do now is to blend the two (soon, Lord willing).

But just in case Coffin finds these words: Don’t worry about competition from the left coast.

Coffin's concept will give me ideas. I can certainly garner thoughts on menu, design and concept. Unless he shares his well-guarded trade secrets for a West Coast division, I’ll develop my own concept from scratch.

You'll have to click over to Douglas Coffin’s website to see more photographs. It sounds fun if you live near New Haven.


  1. Your post mirrors all my dreams when it comes to what business I'd like to set up. In fact I am working on an idea that should be successful (low investment, 1-2 employees max to start with, market ready for it and not too much competition).

  2. Someone told me there was a blog note about me; amazing!I am the guy who built the truck. I am happy to talk with anyone looking to do something like this. It is an exciting, exhausting experience putting something like this together. I feel very lucky that this one worked out - I have had other ideas which have not been as successfull. I would worry about doing this in retirement - at 53 I find the pace and the physical demands of the business exhausting. But I can also understand the attraction of wanting to do your own project after spending many years working on someone elses. Good luck to you all and if I can be of help email me through the site. Also, anyone who wants to come work with me some time on the truck to see what it is like email me and we'll see if we can set something up.

  3. We had this pizza today at an adoption party in Orange, CT and OMG was it the best ever...they will literally make ANYTHING you desire on your pizza...and the cappuccino and gelato...exquisite...I wish they had one here in Staten Island...that would be fantastic!!!

  4. You should check out www.infernocatering.com. This is the West Coast's answer to The Big Green Truck, and then some.

  5. Hey Steve, man I hear you on the business ventures...I have been thinking about how long I will do missions/humanitarian work in a Food Service field AND like you, I don't want to retire to 80 hours a week to make my dream come true.

    So little by little I have been saving my dreams, ideas, and RECIPES! that I personally like or developed.

    I want that "Ole' Neighborhood Place" back when I get to the stage of taking action.

    Run a nice breakfast & Lunch and close shop in the afternoon, and maybe close on weekends if I can get an area conducive to the 'work' eating traffic.

    I have no dreams on being world famous or franchising...

  6. Never met anyone so rude in my life. Good luck with that approch.

  7. WHo was being rude?

    If your talking about my approach...usually the small downtown area restaurants/cafes are run exactly like that because mon-fri business of the people working those city/town office jobs from 9-5.

    I was talking to Steve who I know personally and have kicked around many ideas and conversations with.