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Food Truck Driving New Flavors Into Ithaca

Food+Truck+Driving+New+Flavors+Into+Ithaca
By: Madison Bess and Nick Fustor

Audio: https://soundcloud.com/nick-fustor/food-truck-rolling-new-flavors-into-ithaca

Whether it’s mixing nachos with tuna, or cream cheese with sushi, Woepa Zegid devotes his time to experimentation. Zegid worked in a restaurant for seven years, but since opening his food truck, That’s How I Roll in 2015, he has brought the world of sushi burritos, and his experimental nature in the kitchen, to Upstate New York.

While the success of a food truck is typically associated with proximity to a large city, festivals and warm weather, Zegid said That’s How I Roll has seen a great deal of success since it was opened in 2015. That’s How I Roll is located next to Cornell University’s campus on Thurston Avenue from Sunday to Wednesday and College Avenue from Thursday to Saturday. That’s How I Roll It has capitalized on the market of college students eager to try new types of food.

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“We’re busiest in the summer time,” Zegid said. “That’s when the freshmen orientation happens, or homecoming game, or any events like that with high traffic on nice days. Last weekend was pretty nice and we didn’t even have a chance to sit down. Any day that’s a nice day means we are busy.”

While working in a sushi restaurant in Ithaca for seven years, Zegid said he decided that he wanted to branch out on his own after hearing about sushi burritos on the internet.

“A guy in California had a restaurant where he made sushi burritos, then he sold that and opened a food truck and he’s been very successful. That’s where I got the idea,” he said.

A sushi burrito is a large sushi roll filled with anything from shrimp to vegetables to tuna, served “to-go”. Instead of opening a restaurant, Zegid opted for the cheaper and easier option in a food truck. Zegid said he believes That’s How I Roll is the first place to offer sushi burritos on the East Coast. Now, sushi burrito restaurants and trucks are popping up all over the region, from Syracuse to New York City.

While That’s How I Roll has been successful since it opened, Zegid said he had issues obtaining a permit from the City of Ithaca.

“I’ve wanted to do a food truck since 2011,” he said. “But back in 2011, it was very difficult to get a permit. I tried so many times, but they didn’t give any permits out. At the end of 2015, I saw another food truck got a permit, and I went back to City Hall and they told me they had just started doing the permits.”

Much of the success of That’s How I Roll is based on student business, so when Cornell students leave town for winter break, Zegid closes down for the month. But when the truck is open in the cold winter months and students are in town, Zegid said business stays consistent.

He said he believes that the reason customers keep coming back is because of the experimental nature of That’s How I Roll. Zegid is often times willing to create custom burritos for his customers, and he said many of them return for their specific order. Sometimes, his customers seek out his creations at other restaurants.

“Sometimes customers make a phone call and order by pickup to other restaurants and the waiter or waitress there don’t know what they’re talking about,” he said.

Raei Raohasurayohien, a Cornell University graduate student, went to That’s How I Roll for the first time because his friends recommended it to him.

“I ordered the Three Amigos and the Spicy Tuna Lover. I am going to back to eat it with my friends,” he said

Catlynn Frank, a junior at Ithaca College, went to Sushi Burrito for the first time and she tried the Spicy Tuna Lover.

“At first, I was a little nervous about trying sushi out of a food truck, but it was really fresh and really good,” Frank said.

Zegid said despite rumors, he never buys salmon or any of his fish from chain stores like Walmart or Wegmans. His inventory comes from a supplier based in New York City, although he does not get new inventory every day.

“We usually get it every Monday, Thursday or Friday. It comes from New York City. Sumo or Little Tokyo do big deliveries from New York City,” he said

Zegid said they put most of their inventory in a super freezer in order to preserve its freshness and quality. Salmon and tuna need to be frozen to kill all of the germs.

In the future, Zegid said he is planning on keeping the food truck for a while longer. But he eventually would like to open a restaurant based around a Hawaiian dish called Poke bowl.  Poke bowl restaurants are popular on the West Coast, and function in a similar manner to Chipotle with line-based ordering. For now, Zegid said he will continue to experiment to keep his brand unique.

“You have to create every time, and that’s what I’m interested in, creating new things,” he said.

 

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