This deluxe “California Style” mobile catering center is being assembled on a 1999 rebuilt panel truck. It features a quilted stainless kitchen with glass cold cases on the outside–the cantilevered skylights are distinctive of the “California” style. The finished product will cost $45,000. To build the same food truck on a brand new chassis would run you about $90,000, Daniel Rodriguez of Rodriguez Brothers Catering Trucks estimated. The company designs, custom builds, and repairs food trucks in their Garrow Street garage on Houston’s East Side.
There were 14 trucks in various stages of assembly wedged into the shop when I visited. One was getting a giant elote (corn on the cob) cooker fitted into the back. Another had a hand-cranked raspa (shaved ice) contraption imported from Columbia. About 70 percent of their customers are Latinos, Rodriguez said. But lately they have done trucks for Chinese, Indian and other Asian customers. “The kitchen is designed for the kind of food being served,” he explained. Propane is not allowed in the Medical Center or downtown, so he also designs trucks with electric kitchens that run on generators. He showed me a scrap book with photos of some of the 200+ food trucks the shop has created.
All of the stainless steel is cut, bent, and scored with the distinctive quilt pattern on the premises. Born in Mexico City, Daniel Rodriguez went to college in East L.A. before moving to Houston and opening his taco truck fabrication shop. He invited me to come back soon and watch one of the taco truck artists paint the logos and designs onto a finished catering truck. I’m looking forward to it. (3210 Garrow, 713 222 0985 or 832 721 7570)