By Nancy Varekamp | CNews Editor
Lorenzo Daliana feels like the Pied Piper when people greet his food truck on his drives through northeast and north Portland five days a week.
“The response has been tremendously successful,” he reported about applying traditional ice cream truck strategy to serve lunches. The route varies daily, and customers hail him curbside to order when they hear the music that announces his approach.
Unlike the Good Humor trucks’ “Turkey in the Straw,” The Food Truck plays the tunes of Big Bad Trumpet Player Kormac. Lorenzo chose it for the NewOrleans-like, happy, toe-tapping style.
He’s been part of the Portland food scene for 30-plus years. You may recall his restaurant, Lorenzo’s on north Mississippi Avenue. His resume names restaurants he cooked at previous to his own, like Zefiro and Higgins, and more recently as chef de cuisine at Nike World Headquarters.
In the early days of the pandemic, Lorenzo noticed food carts thriving. “But I didn’t want to be parked in a pod and paying rent. Instead of waiting for someone to come to me, I go to them.”
His maiden voyage was Sept. 21. Customers picked up on The Food Truck concept immediately. They work from home, quarantine with their children and/or don’t want to cook but aren’t inclined leave home to pick up lunch.
“People come out of their homes wearing headsets, PJs and – while it was still warm – were barefoot. Kids too. It’s a family thing. It’s very exciting.
“I’m one of the people who is doing what they’re supposed to do,” Lorenzo pointed out. “Food is one of the most intimate things you offer someone.”
During his childhood, Lorenzo’s parents divided their time between Manhattan and Italy. Others may have taken the opportunity to visit churches, but his focus was on food.
“‘Moving salesmen’ is a cultural thing, from the pretzel and hot dog guys in New York to the guy going down the beach in Italy with warm, just-made sugar doughnuts.”
The Food Truck menus have morphed during the past four months. City ordinance limits his parking time to 10 minutes, so originally Lorenzo prepared all the food in the morning and wrapped it for sales.
Now a veggie sandwich, pork sandwich and salad continue to comprise the pre-made menu. And as many as four hot items are completed curbside, from chili dogs to New York strip sandwiches.
To speed the process, all payments are digital. Also high-tech is the availability of routes, menus and a Google Maps app to track the truck at TheFoodTruckPDX.com.
Nancy Varekamp is semiretired from her career in journalism, public relations and – her favorite work engagement – writing and editing targeted newsletters.