Reviving the old lunch truck concept, Hungry Inc. is serving up soups, salads, sandwiches and entrees at various spots throughout Porter County.
“The initial concept was that although the region is ready for a food truck, we aren’t ready for anything too specific. With my German background, I didn’t want to do a schnitzel truck,” said Phil West, owner of Hungry Inc.
“We have a base menu and I use the freshest produce available to me. I will go to the farmers market to stock up on veggies. We utilize local as much as possible and whatever is in season.”
The food offerings include sandwiches made with Turano bread that are flat-top grilled or baked. A favorite is based on a pulled pork recipe handed down in West’s family.
“Our bread is delivered fresh … you have to have a good base to have a good sandwich. Then we build from there,” he said.
The truck will run year-round for lunch and dinner hours was recently hitting such locations as the Von Tobel’s parking lot and Old Fairgrounds Park in Valparaiso and Hunter’s Brewing in Chesterton as well as businesses that request the service. Hungry Inc. also offers catering and drop-off of office orders.
“We are trying to develop a fairly set schedule. One of our difficulties is giving the location,” West said. “Our website is the best resource for everything, we post on Facebook and I have a GPS unit in the truck if you go to the website you can track our progress.”
While Hungry Inc. has been at some festivals, it is not a fair food truck.
“We will do some festivals but we are not a fair festival truck. That is basically the biggest misconception,” West said. “The only thing we fry is our homemade potato chips.”
West is leaving Fridays open on the calendar for Hungry Inc. to be at special events such as a recent Purdue North Central alumni event.
“When I do an event, I want it to benefit someone. We have been to Opportunity Enterprises and Lakeshore Paws,” West said. “We donate 10 percent of our sales back to the organizations. We will be assisting 500 Turkeys with some of its fund-raising.”
West moved forward with the food truck idea when he found himself at a crossroads in his career. He had worked in the hotel and hospitality industry including owning a consulting company when was pulled back to Valparaiso from Chicago.
“We found out out-of-the-blue that my mom (Shirley) had Stage 4 cancer and she went into an intense treatment program. I resigned from my position to take care of her,” West said. “As an only child, there was really no other option. I had the opportunity to know my mom as an adult living with her on a daily basis and that was priceless. We fought the battle hard but lost within a year.”
West and wife Kathryn Adams decided to launch Hungry Inc. and remain in Valparaiso.
“Being out of the industry for a year and a half, changes had occurred and once you’re out, it can be a little difficult to get back into it. I turned down offers that, in my opinion, were below what I was expecting,” West said. “We had been coming back to Valpo and loved the changes (Mayor) Costas had done. It’s a great community and my wife had fallen in love with it, too.”
In the future, West has expansion plans, including covering more territory.
“In my spare time, I am building a kitchen and we will be opening a lunch counter in Chesterton,” West said. “In 2014, we will be expanding into Lake and LaPorte counties.”