Have you ever had a hankering for some down-to-Earth, motivating–but practical–advice with a side of fresh-cut fries? You should get on streetfoodfinder.com and look for the Legasea East Coast Cafe. Steve Gary, the truck’s owner and operator, dropped some serious wisdom for us about building a business and making his customers smile.
Steve talked with us for our series, My Experience Food Truck Exclusive. In the Q&A below, he talks about his grandfather’s influence, the logistics of sandwich-making, and leaving his own legacy. He also showed us how he stocks fresh ingredients, preps everything on the truck and cooks every item to order.
To see other interviews from our food truck series, just click here.
Food Truck Exclusive: Q&A with Steve Gary from Legasea East Coast Cafe
Tell us about your East Coast roots and how you got your business rolling.
Steve Gary: “Ocean City Maryland… we were all living up that way. I was going to school there. My grandfather decided to open up a sub shop there on Second Street. You know, it just kind of trickled from there. He hit home about quality and fresh and you know, everybody wants to have some kind of comfort food. They want to get a good quality sandwich for a decent price. I miss him, it’s one of those things you want to make them proud even though they’re gone. Anytime you’re able to stay on the beach for free for a summer and all you do is work for a few sandwiches, that’s not too bad. That’s not a bad life. So, you know it makes me smile thinking about it while I’m working even though I’m not at the beach anymore. We decided it was something I loved when I was a kid and that’s what I wanted to continue with. We want to pass on the legacy.”
What makes Legasea cheesesteak special?
SG: “I think it’s fresh. We cut everything. We get whole mushrooms. We get 100% breast chicken. We fry ‘em up. We chop ‘em up. We use the best steak that we can find. You know, the buns, everything is fresh. There’s nothing that sits around. You can taste it in the sandwich because it was just done that morning. We buy whole potatoes and we cut ‘em on the truck. We flash and fry ‘em right there. It’s just our thing. Our thing is freshness. We want to make sure you smile as we do every day.”
You’ve found a niche serving school faculty at lunch. Tell us about that.
SG: “We just want to show up and show the teachers because they have one of the best jobs in the world to teach our kids. If we can show up and give them a little bit of lunch and make them comfortable for the rest of the day that’s a pretty cool thing to me. So you know, it trickles. You get one school talking to the other school and if you show up and you do it right, you get there early and it tastes good, well, everybody wants you. The best compliment you can get is someone to pass on your name.”
How do you make the most out of your space in a food truck?
SG: “We’ve always wanted to do cheesesteak it’s just a matter if we can find the equipment to make and do want to in a process that would not have us falling over each other. When you think about opening up a business and you’re doing it in a truck instead of a restaurant where you have all this room, in a truck you only have 28 feet and three people, four people depending on the people you’re going to serve that day. You know when it comes to concept, and design and everything else you have to be thorough in what you do and make sure it’s right. That’s the one thing you can’t cheat on because if you’re falling over each other it’s going to tell in your service. You’re not going to be able to make it in a quality time. If you’re making five, six sandwiches and a fry to go with it or a drink, you want to have a nice, smooth transition so it goes from one to the other to the other and then out the door without getting cold and it looks as good as it did when came off the grill.”
What advice would you give for future food truck operators?
SG: “Persistence. Don’t give up. At first, you’re going to have the stumbles, and the trips and falls. You’re going to get the wrong events, you’re going to get the wrong people. You want to please everybody but sometimes you just can’t. So be persistent. Go out there and follow what you want. Do what you want. You know, don’t cheat yourself. Keep going. That’s the best thing I can say because if I didn’t smile every day getting on the truck it just wouldn’t be worth it to me.”
Sometimes your younger family members are helping out on the truck. Do they have a future in this business?
SG: “Absolutely. It’s just one of them things you don’t want a handout. You want to make them know that that life’s not given to you. Life is what you make it. If you work for it, you can get anything. You can be a doctor, lawyer. If you’re not happy at doing it what’s the point? A lot of people aren’t fortunate to work with their family every single day I get that opportunity all the time. I’m not on the truck every single day but my family is. That’s awesome to me. That’s why we named it Legasea, so we can carry it on.”