Muncie, IN: Burritos on Wheels – New Truck Brings Mexican Food to Diner

By John Carlson  |  The Star Press

The line was a few deep for lunch at the Puerto truck. Puerto Vallarta has deployed a mobile truck which that was on site for lunch at Muncie Novelty Thurday. / Kurt Hostetler/The Star Press

The line was a few deep for lunch at the Puerto truck. Puerto Vallarta has deployed a mobile truck which that was on site for lunch at Muncie Novelty Thurday. / Kurt Hostetler/The Star Press

Lemon yellow with large slab sides, the Puerta’s Mexican Food & Catering truck was visible from a quarter-mile away as you approached Muncie Novelty Co. on the highway to Albany.

Pulling up to it, you saw a steady stream of company employees approach it for lunch.

“I like it,” said Misty Kabrich, who noted her usual order was two tacos or beef-and-cheese nachos. “There’s not much around here for us to eat.”

Josh Jarrells, meanwhile, bought a taco salad.

“It’s convenient they come to you,” he said. “You don’t have to take a chance on going somewhere and being late to get something to eat. Everybody likes it.”

Though he was busy working in the truck’s kitchen with his girlfriend Dawnya Mercado at the time, and didn’t hear Kabrich and Jarrells’ comments, they represented good news for Emanuel Escamille.

“It’s going well,” said the young man of 22, who owns the food truck with his friend Ricardo Garcia, who is only 21.

Joining Slop on Top as the second food truck operating hereabouts, Puerta’s Mexican Food & Catering first opened at the Delaware County Fair this summer, and its owners are still booking stops such as at Muncie Novelty Co., where it visits Thursdays at noon and 8:30 p.m.

The truck’s existence is a dream come true.

“It’s something we wanted to do since high school,” said Garcia, who is a Ball State University telecommunications student.

It was a campus-area bar owner’s enthusiastic endorsement of it, however, that spurred it to reality.

“We had the idea,” Escamille said, “but that’s where we got the motivation.”

Perhaps because they are so young themselves, their business on campus — where they are now parked Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from about midnight to 3 a.m. — is booming.

“We were swamped,” Escamille said of their early business, which shows no signs of slowing.

BSU and Ivy Tech students, by the way, get 10 percent discounts.

“Some people visit the truck two or three times a night,” Garcia noted. “If they’re coming that often, they must like it.”

With menus firmly taped to the side of the truck, which also hauls around a generator in a trailer, it’s obvious there’s a wealth of food available in it, including burritos, tacos, chimichangas, salads, dips, nachos, combo plates and even kids’ meals, with prices generally ranging from $4 to $8.

Early on, the offerings were going to be much simpler.

“But the more we invested in it, we thought, we can about do the whole menu,” said Escamille, who has cooking and selling Mexican food in his blood.

After all, his father, Roberto Escamille, spent 22 years working in kitchens, the son proudly noted, before trying his hand at ownership. That worked out pretty well. Now he and his family own the Puerta Vallarta restaurants on Tillotson, Wheeling and Broadway.

Also early on, the truck was going to stay on campus, but its young owners soon realized they wanted more than that.

Now, besides looking for more weekday visits to book, they are doing catering, working on making deliveries, pondering opening a campus-area restaurant and considering the possibility of expanding their food truck business to other universities.

“I want to grow,” Garcia said. “We’re up for any event.”

As the lunchtime business began trickling off, Escamille and his girlfriend prepared to drive away when a parched observer asked a final question: They didn’t serve frozen margaritas from the truck, did they?

“Trust me,” the young man answered, sincerely. “If I could, I would.”

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Posted by on Sep 1 2013. Filed under Business Operations, Food Product News, Franchise News, Industry News, Latest News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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