On a bright and sunny Monday afternoon, Paul Andreasen prepared hot sandwiches and french fries inside his food trailer for a small group of regulars.
One of them was Amy Glick of Tipton, who said she always orders the same thing: the walnut cranberry chicken salad sandwich.
“It’s delicious,” she said.
Glick was getting lunch with friend Kathleen Tupker of Marion, who ordered the roasted turkey breast sandwich and chili cheese fries.
“We’ve been looking forward to it when the weather was going to get nicer so we could eat outside,” Tupker said.
Andreasen picked the parking lot of Menards on Wiley Boulevard SW, the permanent location for his food trailer, as the place to set up shop because of the customer traffic.
“We knew with little advertising that we would have a lot of people exposed to our truck,” he said. “Additionally they have 150 to 200 employees so we felt like we could capitalize on that market.”
On average, the stand sells 48 sandwiches a day, Andreasen said.
“We started thinking of what we could do that would be within our means,” he said. “The food truck has been booming (across the country), it’s all over TV, so I started researching that, how much would it cost.
“Once I made that decision, I made a conscious decision I wanted to be more upscale, gourmet, not a concession stand where you can get a burger that you can make at home.”
So Andreasen and his family embarked on their mobile food adventure and Saucy Focaccia was born.
He runs the food stand with his wife, Alycia, and their two daughters, Mikenzie and Mikail.
The truck has been in operation since April 10. It is open from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., on Saturdays and Sundays. (It will have limited hours this Saturday because Mikenzie will be graduating from Prairie High School.)
Andreasen brings to the venture previous business experience. He was the general manager for seven years with Arby’s and has managed Godfather’s and Hardee’s. He has also served as a district manager with Aramark Uniform Services.
The menu centers around the bread. Andreasen chose focaccia, an Italian yeast bread made with fresh herbs, cheese and “a ton of olive oil.”
The bread is made by Andreasen at a Cedar Rapids bakery where he rents space. He created a special recipe for his rounded focaccia, instead of the traditional flatbread version. He also roasts the turkey for the sandwiches himself.
The lunch menu includes a hamburger, a walnut cranberry chicken salad, a BLT and a roasted turkey breast sandwich. There are also sides, including french fries and chili cheese fries.
Andreasen acknowledged his is not the only food stand in Cedar Rapids.
Looking ahead, he said there are two possible scenarios for the future. One option is to continue targeting Menards as the spot for future food trucks. If he continues to find success, he said he would look at franchising in other cities of similar size to Cedar Rapids, Andreasen said.
Another possibility is to open a free-standing restaurant someday, he said. For now, Andreasen and his family are focused on making customers happy with the food.
Last week, Saucy Focaccia began offering breakfast. The menu includes items such as egg with cheese, bacon and cinnamon bread.
“Things have gone really well,” Andreasen said. “Last week was our busiest week. We had our busiest day.”