I expanded my palette and tried Cuban Pete Sandwiches food truck for lunch. The bread was authentic and crunchy, and the flavors worked well together. Living in a rural area, I’m limited on options, and I’m glad that Hubert brought this experience to the employees.
I also enjoy learning about my food and where it comes from. So I enjoyed the unique experience to talk to the crew from Cuban Pete for our series, My Experience… Food Truck Exclusive. Jeff Coleman, the general manager for Cuban Pete food truck, shared the story behind the business and the family that brought authentic Cuban cuisine to Cincinnati.
For a more in-depth Q&A about working in the food truck business, read our Q&A below. Watch the Cuban Pete crew in action, making their locally famous sandwiches, in the video at the bottom of this post.
Food Truck Exclusive: Q&A with Jeff Coleman from Cuban Pete
Who is “Cuban Pete?”
Jeff Coleman: “Cuban Pete was Nelson Fonticiella’s grandpa and he was a professional baseball player in Cuba. In wintertime, American ballplayers would go to Cuba for winter ball and Cuban Pete would always cook them dinner and lunch. He got was very famous for his Cuban authentic food.
“Nelson Jr. got a business degree from UK and him and his dad (Nelson) went into business opening the food truck in Lexington. There was already a Cuban restaurant in town and it wasn’t kicking off as well as they hoped, so they moved it to Cincinnati.”
What’s your most popular menu item?
JC: “The Cuban Sandwich. You can’t find a real authentic Cuban sandwich anywhere else in Cincinnati, really. It’s all about the Cuban bread. We import our bread from Miami. It comes out kind of like a breadstick. We thaw it, we knead it and let it rise. We bake every single morning, so it’s the freshest Cuban bread around this area.
“The loaves come about two feet after it’s cooked. We cut them into thirds. We put mayonnaise, spicy brown mustard, we get imported Bollo ham—which is a sweet, Spanish style ham—and we roast our own Pork—it’s a Cuban recipe—then we slice that put it on the sandwich along with the ham, the mayo and the mustard, pickles and imported Swiss cheese. Then we put it on the sandwich press to press it to a good size.”
Where do you prep your ingredients?
JC: “We make it all at our restaurant in Cincinnati and bring it with us. We tried the whole cook everything on the truck when we first started four years ago and our ticket times were taking 30, 40 minutes. When people are on lunch break they don’t have that time to wait. We started precooking everything. The chicken, the pork we always roast in-house, then I keep it on sternos heated to the right temp.”
Is your food truck menu different than the restaurant’s offerings?
JC: “We have a full menu at our restaurant where we have all kinds of different salads and different sandwiches. We have a Chicky sandwich, we have a spicy chicken sandwich that we call the Chicky Boom. We have a Cincinnati Cuban that has Goetta on it. It’s really, really good. We have different island bowls at our restaurant as well.
“Here on the truck we try to make it just simple, fast and easy. So on the truck we usually have our Cuban sandwich, I usually do a special sandwich as well, just depending on what I have on the truck. We do an island veggie grilled cheese for the vegetarians out there. It has pineapple salsa, Swiss cheese, American cheese, sweet jerk sauce, Texas toast, and pressed. It’s really, really good. We also do our tacos. Everybody loves our tacos. It’s real simple and easy. It’s marinated chicken or roasted pork, with our poppy slaw and a little bit of pineapple salsa on top of that. It’s really good. To die for.”
What advice can you give someone who wants to start a food truck?
JC: “Definitely do their research… have you checked to see how much a business license is? Do you have your truck? Do you know where you’re going to get your truck? Are you going to buy a used UPS truck or are you going to buy it prefabricated? So there’s a lot of questions you need to ask yourself before you hop in and open your own food truck. You have to have permits, you have to be licensed in the county. If you do an event in a different state, you have to be licensed by those states to go to those events.”
How to Find Cuban Pete
The Cuban Pete brick and mortar restaurant is located at 133 E Court St in Cincinnati. Use these links to find their mobile operation: