Cafe de Wheels revs up gourmet food truck operation

The trend of mobile food is nothing new, but its one that is still emerging in Cincinnati. That will change with Cafe de Wheels, the region's first independent food truck.

The brainchild of Tom Acito, and Chef Michael Katz, Cafe de Wheels will initially focus on burgers, fries, and Cuban sandwiches.  The two entrepreneurs are looking forward to changing the way Cincinnatians enjoy their food. Asked about the decision to do a mobile restaurant versus a more traditional stand alone storefront, owner Tom Acito said there really was no choice at all.

From a cost perspective, Acito estimates that the start-up costs to open a traditional spot would run about $300,000 whereas the Cafe de Wheels truck was purchased and equipped for about $50,000. Another big benefit is mobility which allows the restaurant to move with the crowd and pick and choose when and how they invest their time.

"We're pretty much just held to the same rules and regulations as a standard place without the associated costs of such an establishment," said Acito.

Cafe de Wheels benefits from minimal logistics involved with operating the food truck. Outside of the required food vendor's license, a peddler’s license, and tags for the truck, Acito and Katz say that not much ele was needed.

Cincinnatians can expect to see them popping up around town wherever the local police force will allow, including valid on-street parking spaces. According to Acito, in the heart of Downtown they are required to stay off the street and use private lots where they have reached agreements with owners.

The venture began when Acito put a help wanted ad on Craigslist and Katz was one of many people to respond. Acito said that Katz just understood more than most what he wanted to accomplish, and was really excited about the concept. Katz went through culinary school at Cincinnati State (then Cincinnati Technical College) and has worked in many kitchens around the city at various restaurants. 

While there are other mobile food trucks in the process of starting up around Cincinnati, Café de Wheels is the first of its kind in that there is no restaurant backing it. The plans are to use as many local suppliers as possible to outfit their pantry and fill the fridge including Avril-Bleh Meats, Shadeau Breads, and even Dojo Gelato to accompany a warm fruit crisp dessert.

You can follow Cafe de Wheels on Twitter @burgerBgood to stay up-to-date on their whereabouts, what they're serving and all the latest news surrounding the mobile food craze in Cincinnati.

Writer: Dave Rolfes
Photography Provided
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