Food truck business gets Cranford OK

Photo by Alyssa Lidman
Christopher Dour of Maser Consulting, standing forward, explains Food Truck Inc.’s proposed project of
repurposing a warehouse for the company’s food delivery service at the Cranford Planning Board’s Nov. 13 meeting.

CRANFORD, N.J. — A food truck and delivery business will be moving into the township after the local Planning Board gave its approval to Food Truck Inc. to repurpose an existing warehouse at 41 and 42 Jackson Drive on the corner of Moen Avenue on the Roselle border.

According to Food Truck chief operating officer Jay Naik, the company plans to expand the 32,625-square-foot facility in the office park into what is essentially a parking lot that faces Raritan Road and parallels Jackson, turning it into a combination kitchen and corporate headquarters.

According to the plan presented by Food Truck, the building will undergo facade improvements, the windows will be refurbished, an addition will be made for recycling bins, and LED lighting and larger storm sewers will be added. Asphalt will be removed and permeable pavers will be installed on top of stone in order to facilitate drainage. There will be no change to the loading docks.

“We’re not your average food truck that you see in fairs and carnivals,” Naik said at the Nov. 13 Planning Board meeting. “What we want to do is bring curated cuisines and menu items, which are developed in our commissary, to our customers via our hybrid vehicles and electric kitchens.”

He said the business will package food ingredients, “into kits at our Cranford facility, and then load them onto our mobile kitchens. In terms of the Cranford facility, I think it’s very important to distinguish between that being not only a commissary kitchen for us, but also our headquarters here in New Jersey.”

Food Truck, which will employ about 250 people onsite, will bring food to different sites, where meals will be cooked and delivered, Naik said. The concept appears to combine a typical food truck with online delivery services, such as Grubhub, DoorDash and Uber Eats, which partner with local restaurants.

Food Truck will utilize energy-efficient trucks, and loading docks will also function as designated parking spaces, he said. Additionally, the business will not send its trucks to customer locations during typical rush hour times and, to reduce fumes and odors, it will use greaseless cooking technology.

Food Truck’s proposal received near unanimous approval, except for board Chairwoman Kathy Murray, who voted against it. She stated that while she supports the concept, she wanted more clarity in order to vote on final site plans.

“As I indicated earlier, I love, love, love the project.” Murray said. “I wish you all the success. I’m so thrilled you picked Cranford. I do think there’s, particularly in the engineering area, there’s an awful lot of ‘Yeah I’m going to take care of that,’ ‘Yeah I’m going to move this.’ We’ve got to do permeability testing. … There’s a lot of unknowns for me to feel comfortable voting on final site plans.”

The company will begin with five vehicles, with the hope of expanding that to 50, with one or two employees per truck during operation. About 65 people would work during a typical shift, Naik said, adding, “That’s people working in the food facility, that’s also people graphic designers and people working in the corporate facility.”

Board attorney Jonathan Drill observed, “65 people at the site at any one time, that would make the potential for 65 vehicles, and then if you have 50 delivery vehicles, which would be 100 vehicles. … There would be potential for 165 vehicles at any one time on the site.”

Naik agreed, and said he would encourage employees to take public transit and carpool to work.
In addition, Food Truck plans to use local produce in its meals, Naik said at the meeting.

“Part of our local first program is that we want to support the local businesses in the community,” he said. “So, it’s a big portion of our supply chain. We want to stay local around Cranford, and that’s another reason why Union County, specifically, has a lot of local purveyors.”