The food truck craze has been going strong since about 2008, but according to a New York Times article, its roots can be traced back to 1872, when Rhode Islander Walter Scott cut windows into a covered wagon, parked it in front of a newspaper office in Providence, and sold sandwiches and pies. In 2020, there were nearly 24,000 active food truck businesses in the United States alone. Food trucks provide new, exciting venues to offer additional choices to diners in fun and innovative ways, and New York Tech is debuting its own. Fork in the Road, located on the Long Island campus, is a customized, 17’x12’, state-of-the-art food truck staffed by a combination of Campus Dining and NYIT de Seversky Mansion team members.
New York Tech has long considered introducing a food truck and ramped up that effort in 2019. The Box sat down with Robert Rizzuto, director of dining services and Stacy Allen, catering operations manager, two of the driving forces behind the food truck, to learn more about it.
Why have you introduced a food truck?
It comes down to providing more options and enhanced customer service to the New York Tech community. As the venue is mobile, it allows us to bring a variety of cuisines to different locations, which adds convenience for students, faculty, and staff. A college campus also provides a very receptive environment, especially in light of research showing that the most likely demographic to order from a food truck are people aged 18 to 34.
When will it officially launch?
Fork in the Road will be rolling out on the Long Island campus soon, offering foods from near and far. Some of its first ‘appearances’ will be in the medical school quad in front of the Riland Academic Healthcare Center, as well as for private events held at NYIT de Seversky Mansion.
Has the New York Tech community been involved in the planning?
Yes, and the collaboration has been wonderful. Dozens of faculty and staff members provided possible names for the food truck and also had the chance to vote on their favorite choices. Fork in the Road was far and away the top choice. That kind of engagement early in the development cycle is very important to help build excitement and anticipation for the venue.
More importantly, we also have student feedback on menu items from our efforts in 2019 to get their input on what options they would like made available to them through a food truck.
Speaking of menu items, what is a Fork in the Road serving?
Our menus will rotate every 10 days, and the goal is to provide students, faculty, and staff with a variety of selections and the opportunity to indulge in tasty sweets, just steps from their classes. As New York Tech is the owner/operator, we also have flexibility to quickly add or change menu items based on customer feedback.
Selections include halal; tacos; burgers and chicken sandwiches; bagels, eggs, and other breakfast dishes; shakes; waffles and various sweet and savory snacks, and much more.
Menus will be posted online, and we will be incorporating a QR code feature outside the food truck as an easy way for customers to access the menu and maintain social distancing.
Where can people find the food truck on campus?
A Fork in the Road will be found during the course of any given week at various locations on the Long Island campus, including:
- Education Hall
- Anna Rubin Hall (to the left of the bus stop)
- Wisser Library
- The seating area across from Riland and Serota
In what other ways will the food truck be used?
We are very excited about the many possibilities. In addition to our daily operation on campus, Fork in the Road will be available for student-related events coordinated by various departments throughout that university. For example, we expect it to be a centerpiece at MayFest at the end of this semester. Additionally, NYIT de Seversky Mansion will enhance its events with the food truck as part of an event or as a to-go station for guests at the end of the evening; in fact, we already have five bookings.
This interview has been edited and condensed.