Grease trucks see business losses after move
The grease trucks have started working on new ways to bring in revenue after they were forced to move from Lot 8 Aug. 15. The R U Hungry? Truck, for example, is going to begin a delivery service, as well as offering catering.
Beginning this week, Ayman Elnaggar, owner of the truck, said they will start delivering fat sandwiches to all campuses as a way to try and recover lost revenue after moving off Lot 8 more than two months ago. Rutgers moved them off the to build a residence hall.
All the grease trucks have seen a loss in revenue since they were forced to move to various locations around the University.
Mr. C’s lunch trucks are now located on Biel Road on Cook and outside Alexander Library on College Avenue. Just Delicious has moved to George Street outside the residence halls, and R U Hungry? sits in the former Souper Van location outside the Douglass Campus Center.
Sam Habib, owner of Just Delicious, said after the move, he has seen a significant loss of sales in his sandwiches. He attributes this mostly due to the fact that no one knows where his new location is, compared to when all the trucks were grouped together.
“Since the move, we have seen a 70 percent decrease in sales. The last eight years, business was from outside of the Rutgers community, 30 percent from the students,” he said.
While the grease truck owners see the move as a blow to business, some students see the new locations as a convenience. Courtney Crosby, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said she enjoys the new truck locations.
“It’s nice that they are scattered. If you’re coming from class, it’s convenient to have them outside,” she said. “It’s good to have them scattered, because not everyone lives on College Ave.”
Remus Dejesus, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said while he enjoys having the trucks on different campuses, he understands why the owners are losing business.
“Businesswise, [Lot 8] was a hotspot,” he said. “Scott Hall is right there, everybody knew where they were. You would go after parties or after class. Now … there’s not a long line. There was always at least a little bit of a line over there at Scott Hall around lunchtime and dinnertime.”
Located in a more central location, Mr. C’s lunch truck is on College Avenue but has also seen a loss in sales. Ahmad Ewida, a cook on the truck, said sales have taken a hit since the move.
Even with the passing student traffic, the business now sees shorter lines most of the day, and no line if the Rutgers Knight Wagon is parked on the same street.
“It’s different because we are scattered all over the campuses. It was better when we were all together, it was like when you go to a dining hall,” he said. “There was different trucks, different food, all in one spot. It was more convenient. People knew where to go to eat. Now, there are so many choices.”
Despite some of the challenges he’s faced, Elnaggar said he is hopeful for the future of the trucks. Making sure his truck is open by 7 a.m., he now offers a breakfast menu and gives fresh coffee with breakfast sales.
“We’ve been through a lot of challenges, first was making the trailer mobile,” he said. “Then we had a problem with the generator, we have to get another trailer for the generator. Moving the truck every night is a hell of a job.”
Elnaggar said while his location is not central like it was on College Avenue, people have started showing up looking for his business specifically.
“The beautiful thing is the people started coming. The good thing about R U Hungry? is the people come looking for us,” he said. “I believe it’s only a matter of time before we start doing very well in here.”
Because of the move and the changes he had to make to his trucks, Elnaggar said he took the time to update his truck. He installed new grills, new floors and new fryers. This was all to help make better sandwiches for his customers.
For R U Hungry?, the key is making good food, he said. Because of the move, the sandwiches now taste better than before.
“We had great sandwiches before, don’t get me wrong,” he said. “Now they taste even better.”
Along with adding a delivery service to the truck, Elnaggar said he also brings his truck to the home football games because it is mobile. Now he sells to the football crowd, then goes back to his spot on Douglass campus to sell to the night crowds.
“We have lots of fun, take lots of pictures,” he said. “They are all excited when they see us. It’s a beautiful thing. I think we will do very well.”
Despite being parked near the grease trucks, Elnaggar said the Knight Wagon is not associated with them and is a mobile food vendor provided by Rutgers. He does see it as competition, and he welcomes it.
“I love competition,” he said. “Competition is good, it makes me work harder. It makes me think about new ideas, how I could improve my business.”
While they are not located on Lot 8 anymore, which has seen no activity since it closed, the grease trucks are on campus and open for business on a daily basis.