The latest food truck to join Chicago’s growing street food scene doles out healthy salads courtesy of two recent Yale graduates who have already set up successful storefronts in New Haven, Conn.
The Little Salad Truck hit the streets of Chicago at the beginning of August, and all of the daily operations are run by Jerry Choinski, 23, and Etkin Tekin, 22.
The pair opened The Little Salad Shop near campus during their junior year after realizing the need for more healthy food options, and the positive response caused them to branch out to another major city upon graduating in May 2012. They co-founded the business along with Jerry's brother Szyman Choinski, 29, and Robert Klinger, 35, who operates their first New Haven storefront.
The duo decided to return to Choinski’s home state (he’s from Justice, Ill.), but rather than immediately take the plunge and open a brick-and-mortar restaurant, they decided to test the waters of Chicago’s evolving food truck scene.
“We thought it was a good opportunity to market via the truck and get our brand out there,” Tekin said.
They're driving a small refurbished school bus painted bright green and emblazoned with their logo.
“We had no truck at Yale, but we acquired one in Connecticut and drove it out here,” Tekin said.
While they’re currently looking for a permanent location -- possibly in the Loop, Lincoln Park or Streeterville -- the truck typically roams the Loop and University of Chicago campus during lunchtime Monday through Friday. They also hope to also serve Saturday and Sunday. Choinski and Tekin not only drive the truck and sell their salads, but they also prepare all of the food in a catering kitchen shared with Zullo’s.
“We’ve gotten a very warm welcome,” Tekin said. “All of the food trucks have been very supportive.”
Salads range from $6.50 to $8. They're currently selling pre-packaged versions of their menu items, such as the Summertime Salad with strawberries, apples, dried cranberries, almonds and topped with raspberry vinaigrette. They eventually plan to offer online ordering in which customers can create their own salad from 45 ingredients and 17 dressings and pick it up on the truck the next day.
“Our salads are generously portioned, and they’re very filling,” Tekin said. “Our main point is to offer complete customization. People can make exactly what they want, and people do enjoy that they can have a different salad every day.”
Another popular item is the Blue Buffalo Salad, which features grilled buffalo chicken, celery, carrots, tomatoes, blue cheese crumbles and blue cheese dressing.
The truck currently announces its locations on Twitter via @LilSaladTruck.
Renee Mailhiot is a RedEye special contributor.Copyright © 2015, RedEye