On any given night in San Diego you can find a food truck gathering; whether it is in the parking lot of a local high school, on a military base, outside your favorite bar, or at a farmers’ markets.
These restaurants on wheels have pumped fresh blood into the age-old American dream of business ownership. Food trucks have given individuals that might not have the means to open their own restaurant an opportunity to do just that.
Owner of Italian food truck Mangia Mangia, Marko Pavlinovic, had always dreamed of owning his own restaurant. When he moved to San Diego from Milano, Italy in 2002 he began working as a waiter in an Ocean Beach restaurant. When, in 2010, the restaurant went out of business, Pavlinovic found himself without a job. Unemployed and unsure of his future, he happened upon MIHO food truck one afternoon.
“At the time I had been without a job for six months. MIHO had a line of people that went down the street. It looked like something I could do.”
Pavlinovic looked into food truck ownership. He discovered he could take baby steps toward business ownership by renting a food truck for $2000 a month. He took the leap and rented the truck. Next, he went through a company called, LogoNerds and for the low cost of $100 he created a business logo to adorn his rental with. From there he went to Restaurant Depot to buy kitchen supplies. He decided to name his truck Mangia Mangia which means Eat! Eat! He modeled his menu after the food he enjoyed in his homeland.
“When I opened Mangia Mangia I only had $300 in the bank. The first eight months were really tough. I was only making enough money to buy more food, gas, and propane,” says Pavlinovic.
After two years, and a lot of hard work Mangia Mangia became a booming business venture. In 2012, Pavlinovic purchased his own custom-made truck at a price tag of $35,000. He also moved into a commercial kitchen which afforded him the ability to prepare fresh food on a daily basis.
Now, four years later, Pavlinovic has expanded his food truck business. Along with his Mangia Mangia food truck, he also runs a successful deli in Kearny Mesa.
“I serve anywhere from 150 to 200 people every day. No other food truck is doing so well,” boasts Pavlinovic.
Pavlinovic offers this advice to others that are considering food truck ownership, “Food trucking is a hard gig. If you want to keep up with the volume you have to work a lot of hours. It’s not a nine-to-five job. It’s not usual for me to start my day at 6am and end it at 11pm. If you don’t put passion and love into it, you aren’t going to make it. Write a business plan. Put a good product out there. Keep your truck clean or it will become a roach coach. Believe in what you do, and good luck!”