Trumbull native taking over Wilton Deli, adds food truck
Matt Francia of Trumbull is in the process of taking over his father Steve’s business, Wilton Deli, on Route 7, and his first choice as the new owner has been to invest in a food truck, which the father-son team have elected to brand Matt & Steve’s All American Grill.
“We wanted to give it its own name,” said Matt. “It’s different from the deli. There’s less sandwiches on the menu and more hot foods, like parmesans, burgers and hot dogs, cheese steaks and tenders, that kind of thing.”
At first, Steve was opposed to the truck, but Matt felt he knew what he was doing, and Steve has since warmed to the idea.
“When he said ‘food truck,’ I said, ‘You kidding me?’ But it’s the new up-and-coming thing nowadays,” Steve said.
“When I was at Johnson & Wales, they were all over Providence,” Matt said. “I went to a block party once and there was a truck there getting a ton of business. I thought it was pretty cool.”
Matt & Steve’s All American Grill is not the kind of food truck you might see parked on a street corner selling food or driving around town looking for hungry customers. Rather, it caters to events, office parties and house parties.
So far, Matt and Steve have done a soccer tournament, the 350-head Wilton Boys Youth Lacrosse end-of-the-year party, and a private graduation party.
“We pulled right into the backyard of the house where the graduation party was,” Matt said, “parked the truck on the grass, and served up hot dogs and burgers the whole time.”
“What we do,” added Steve, “is sit down with customers and let them pick out six or seven items that they want the truck to be ready to cook. Then, on the day of the event, we pull the truck up an hour early, get the grill hot, and start cooking.”
Matt feels that flexibility makes the new truck special.
“We made it so that we can do anything a customer wants us to,” he said. “We’re not limited.”
Nor would it seem they are limited to serving Wilton patrons and Route 7 commuters now that they have a food truck. Matt plans to take it to all the towns in the area.
“That’s another reason why we rebranded the truck,” he said. “Yeah, it says Wilton Deli on there in a couple of spots, but I figured that if we were to go to other towns, they’d be more likely to call it ‘Matt & Steve’s All American Grill’ than ‘Wilton Deli’ because we wouldn’t be in Wilton anymore.”
Matt and Steve
Matt graduated from Trumbull High School with the Class of 2009, did two years at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., and graduated from Western Connecticut State University with a degree in small business management.
Steve started in the restaurant business doing door-to-door produce delivery in the Bronx, N.Y. He founded and owned Steve’s Ribhouse in the Hamptons before opening Wilton Deli.
“My mother always cooked,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to be in the food business.”
But though Steve wanted that life for himself, he did not want it for his son.
“I didn’t want him to have to work these hours,” Steve said. “When you own your own business, especially a deli, even when you’re home, your phone’s ringing.”
“It’s true,” said Matt. “Last night I got a call at 10 p.m. Someone forgot to order breakfast for 45 people.”
Putting in hard hours never deterred Matt, though.
“I’ve wanted to take over the deli for as long as I can remember,” he said. “There’s only so many times you can ask.”
Persistence paid off in the end, and now Matt is on his way to being the sole owner of Wilton Deli.
A long process
Though it has been a year since they first bought the truck, Matt and Steve have been able to use it for just about two months.
“There was a lot that needed to be done,” said Matt. “We had to double the size of the grill; we added a fryer, added refrigeration, installed a bigger exhaust system. We also needed four sinks and the truck had three, so we added a sink, too.”
Food inspectors require food trucks to meet the same health codes that full-sized indoor kitchens must.
“We’ve got a bigger grill in the truck than we do in the back of the store,” Steve said jokingly.
“It also took a while to get the custom wrap,” added Matt. “It’s pretty much one big solid decal, so it takes a while to get it custom made.”
Matt hopes that Matt & Steve’s All American Grill will do “a bunch” of parties in the near future.
“We want to get the name out there,” he said. “It’ll be coming out on the website soon.”
The father-son team have also been working to become the official vendor at Wilton High School football games.
“The way I see it,” said Steve, “parents would be able to enjoy the games better if they didn’t have to volunteer behind the concession stand all the time. The school kicks us a small percentage of the proceeds, the parents get to watch the game, and everyone’s happy.”
Matt’s next project will be to expand the grill in the store.
“A bigger grill means more food,” he said.
Get more information at WiltonDeli.com.