The bus will eventually be a mobile kitchen supplying food to satellite delivery drivers.
If you grill it, they will come. Or at least ask to have it delivered.
That’s what Melted food cart owner David Rodriguez is counting on as he prepares to launch a new lunchtime delivery service. The Melted food cart will continue to serve specialty grilled cheese sandwiches during the weekday lunch rush at its current spot on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
The Melted delivery service will be operated out of a new food truck that will act as a mobile restaurant hub for a small fleet of drivers.
“The truck will have a full commercial prep kitchen inside,” says Rodriguez. “The idea is to have two or three drivers pick up lunches there and drop them off wherever they need to go. I’m hoping we’ll be able to deliver anywhere in Madison.”
Currently, Rodriguez hopes to park the bus somewhere on East Main Street between South
Blair and South Brearly streets. The area falls outside of the zone where a Mall/Concourse vending permit is needed but is still a short jaunt from offices downtown.
The Melted food truck will serve the same menu as the food cart. Orders will be taken exclusively online at meltedmadison.com.
The new venture is housed in a 1981 International Harvester “Schoolmaster” bus. Caged Crow Fabrications of St. Germain, Wisconsin, is retrofitting the diesel bus, and it’s expected to be ready by mid-March. In addition to installing everything needed for a legal commercial prep kitchen, a walk-up window and a six-seat chef’s table are also being added.
Rodriguez also plans to take the food truck on the road for private events, weddings and music festivals. “It’s been my goal for some time to expand Melted without giving up our lunch spot downtown,” says Rodriguez. “I’m hoping the food truck helps take the business to a new level.”
This is Melted’s second attempt at a food truck. Last summer, Rodriguez bought a 1971 Dodge Travco motorhome to use for special events and pop-up dinners. But the chassis of the vintage RV was too weak to support all the necessary kitchen equipment.
“[The Travco] ran, but I was a little naïve when I bought it. The cost of rehabbing it was going to be exorbitant. I started looking for another vehicle,” says Rodriguez. The new bus has been diligently maintained by the state of New Mexico, he says: “It’s a beast that was built to last. It all worked out in the end because this vehicle will give me more options, like this new delivery operation.”
Rodriguez expects to start delivering Melted sandwiches out of the old school bus by the end of May.