101 Best Food Truck Feature: The Cinnamon Snail

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A look into the story of the truck serving the streets of New York

The vegan and organic truck serves food from a grill that has never touched animal flesh.

What one piece of advice would you give someone looking to get into the food truck business?

ONLY SERVE FOOD THAT DOESN’T HARM ANIMALS OR THE ENVIRONMENT.

Don't let ANYTHING stand in the way of the integrity of your food.

What's the most challenging thing about running your food truck?

ONE? One single most challenging thing about running a food truck?  OK:

Break-downs-parking-tickets-parking-problems-weather-black-market-permits.

Any new upcoming dishes planned that you can tell us about?

Korean BBQ Nachos with sweet and sour ginger seitan, kimchi, gochujang roasted tofu, ground smoked chile peanuts, Sriracha mayo, and roasted habanero-Korean chile sauce on corn chips and greens.

Any new plans on the horizon you can share?

Building a really awesome second truck (same food, better more efficient design), so we can be in more neighborhoods. Moving to a new large kosher-certified commissary kitchen in Brooklyn, and expanding our catering options.

Lots of things happen when running a restaurant, and that probably goes double on the road. As such, be it weird, funny, good, or bad, what's one superlative or particularly outstanding moment or story that's ever occurred with your truck be it with customers, in the kitchen, or just in general?

When I first got the Cinnamon Snail running, I ran the truck in Hoboken. Hoboken had some annoying parking laws that make it tough for food trucks (you were supposed to move after EVERY sale), and when the police choose to enforce the laws, it made operating very difficult.

One slow Sunday morning, a policeman came and made me move the truck. Within five minutes of finding a new spot, he was back and already getting irritated. He gave me a ticket and told me that he could keep writing me tickets all day if I kept moving and serving people. It was a bummer but I started packing up. Packing up a commercial kitchen on wheels takes time, and he was back within 10 minutes, really mad now that I wasn’t gone yet. He felt like I was being a smart ass when I asked him to clarify the law a little to me, because it seemed really unclear. The officer gave me two more tickets and followed me as I drove out of town. I didn’t leave town immediately, though. Instead, I boxed up all of my pastries and went to the police precinct and gave them to the police to enjoy (I make a regular habit out of doing this even to this day with unsold pastries).

A couple of days went by, and I felt like Hoboken was going to be a volatile place to try to operate in. I didn’t know what to expect as far as police harassment on any given day. I had been left with such a bad taste in my mouth about this police officer, so I decided to go to the police station to talk to him. I let the officer know that I was sorry if it seemed like I was giving him a hard time the day he ticketed me. I was super friendly, and immediately I could feel the tension clear. He told me how bad he felt when he came back to the station and was enjoying the donuts I had given them.

At a later date, I was serving food on the Hoboken waterfront, and I saw a cop car pull up to the truck. Immediately my heart sank, figuring I was in for more ticketing and problems. The officer who had ticketed me previously came and stood on our line. He bragged to our other customers about how good our donuts were, and ordered some pastries with a smile. I started to see him more often at our truck, and I watched his choices evolve from pastries, into tofu sandwiches, and spinach pies. Every week, he would bring new policemen to the truck with him. I talked with him on slow days about his rough childhood and his difficult life, as I served him vegan food on Hoboken’s scenic waterfront.

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These are the customers of ours who drive me the most to continue running our truck.  I watch them over time growing and evolving toward peace, driven in some small part by the influence of our food.