You won’t necessarily have to drive to the brick-and-mortar place in downtown Buffalo to get your fix of spaghetti parm from Chef’s Restaurant.
Wednesday, owners Mary Beth and Louis J. Billittier Jr. unveiled a food truck that will be serving up their menu’s staples – including spaghetti parm – out in the suburbs.
Chef’s isn’t the first restaurant to take its operations to the streets of Western New York. Amy’s Place birthed a mobile operation in 2012, followed by the eponymous J&L Boulevard BBQ truck, (716), Street Café, and Taffy’s. Serafim’s, in Wheatfield, started Greek on the Street, and Elma’s Blue Lantern Lounge runs Philly Flattop. Restaurants that started as a mobile operation include Pizza Amore, R&R BBQ, Roaming Dee’s, and the yet-to-open Marble + Rye, Lloyd Taco Factory, and Water Lily Café.
But Chef’s certainly is among the most high-profile restaurants to take to the streets. Its unveiling was preceded by cryptic news releases and Facebook teases about a “reveal” and a “secret.” But the secret was out as soon as reporters approached the restaurant’s satellite lot on Seneca Street: a large vehicle covered by a billowing camouflage tarp.
“I think everybody knows what’s under here,” Billittier cracked.
It’s an idea he’d been kicking around for about 15 years, but Billittier credited his sister, Mary Beth, with pushing it forward.
“We decided to get into the current fad, the current craze of the millennials,” Billittier said.
“I was against it. I’ll be honest,” he said.
The truck’s exterior paint job includes the ubiquitous red-and-white check tablecloth pattern. And, along with Chef’s Restaurant, the words “On the Go.”
Once on location, an inflatable jar of meat flavored sauce will emerge from the roof, distinguishing it in settings where numerous food trucks are present.
The new 36-foot Freightliner truck has a 22-foot stainless steel kitchen, Billittier said, and a more than 100-gallon tank to supply water to cook all that pasta. Built-in generators will minimize exterior noise, he said.
Almost everything was made in America, he added.
To make meals easy to carry, they will be served on rimmed, cardboard trays with a thumbhole cut out of the bottom – similar to an artist’s palette.
Billittier said he researched how long it took food trucks to produce orders, and vowed that Chef’s will do it within three minutes or so. “It will be a quick turnaround for everybody,” he said.
The plan is to take the truck to the Northtowns and Southtowns; it’s scheduled to visit Orchard Park on July 22.
“The future of food service is food trucks. I honestly believe that,” said Billittier, who is eager to become part of the brotherhood of food truck operators.
“I’m so impressed with the food truck society and their whole camaraderie,” he said. “I’m hoping that they will welcome us in, as well.”
Several big names in local professional sports, whom Billittier described as “big brothers” to him and his sister, were on hand to help the with the unveiling.
Perched on aerial platforms behind the truck, waiting to pull off the wraps, Mary Beth was joined by former Buffalo Sabres Rene Robert, Danny Gare and Don Luce, as well as Buffalo Bills alumni Joe DeLamielleure and Lou Piccone. Marcel Dionne, another NHL veteran, offered support from the ground.
Music was blasting, punctuated by fireworks. Chef Paisano, the restaurant’s costumed mascot, danced behind the serving window.
“Go big or go home!” someone shouted from the platform.
News Staff Reporter Andrew Z. Galarneau contributed to this report. email: firstname.lastname@example.org