spotted! Cara DeLalla of Meatballerz Food Truck // 8.3.15
a couple Fridays ago, Jas and i went to Eventide brewing to test the waters of the this cool new brewery in the heart of downtown Atlanta. we were expecting a casual venue with cool brews; what we weren't expecting was to find a food truck that would instantly become a favorite.
parked outside Eventide was a squatty truck with the sassy slogan "you won't regret putting our ballz in your mouth" plastered across the back doors. meatballs were the feature item so it made sense. we laughed, but decided to skip the food. after grabbing a couple glasses (mine with water because unfortunately, I'm not a beer drinker) we decided to test our luck with the truck.
the Meatballerz's truck was staffed with two cheerful girls, a stocked window of Italian inspired beverages and a chalkboard sign with too many yummy sounding meatball options. if you know me, you know i love good food; and to be quite frank, even if you don't know me, you can probably assume i love good food. well, Meatballerz is definitely a MUST if you're in the city.
we decided to try the Pompeii, a mix of spicy Italian sausage and long peppers served in a delicious bowl of bread and we tried some dessert ballz to complete our order. we were in heaven! i don't usually lean towards meatballs as my meal of choice, but after having these i couldn't stop eating. the bread was beautifully baked and perfectly fluffy, the balls were seasoned to perfection and the entire bite was dripping with aroma. the portion size was perfect to split between he and i, but man, if i had had more room, i would have ordered another. i was completely impressed with the amazing product coming out of this adorable truck. i had to meet the owner.
i messaged Cara asking for an interview and struggled to contain my overwhelming interest in how she began her journey. Cara DeLalla is unbelievably kind and passionate woman who's excitement is contagious. read on to find out how she began her food truck, her best advice and where you can find them next!
of Meatballerz Food Truck
1. Food trucks are one of my favorite things to visit, the idea of mobile meals is perfection! Plus, they’re trendy and always have the best eats! How did you begin this adventure? Have you been dreaming of running a food truck since you could toddle or was it a recent love?
My obsession with owning a food truck started about 6 years ago. I was in college at the time and I decided to start researching the food truck industry in Atlanta. It just seemed so complicated at the time. Food trucks were a new concept in Atlanta, and local enforcement agencies and existing legislation did not favor food trucks. Fast forward 6 years and a lot has changed. Atlanta is becoming a more food truck friendly place and if you are patient and can get through the hoops you can be very successful. I turned 30 last year and saw the movie Chef around the same time. It sounds cliché but that movie spoke to me. I decided that I was not going to spend another year in a career field that I wasn’t truly passionate about. I went to my mother and asked her if she would be willing to take this journey with me. She has always been super supportive of me and my dreams. She basically just said if I could find the money she was in. It wasn’t easy. Banks are not very anxious to lend money to new businesses let alone one within an industry that has such a high failure rate. One night I was sitting around with my friends and I mentioned that I felt helpless in the search for startup funds. Next thing you know, one of those friends was helping me get funded. The rest is history.
2. I definitely wasn’t expecting to fall in love with meatballs, let alone a meatball food truck, but I’m hooked! What made you decide that meatballs would be your big ticket item?
I grew up eating meatballs. I remember coming home to the smell of my mom cooking her homemade marinara sauce and meatballs. It was comforting and it reminded me of the simple joys of being a kid. Over the years, I’ve never really been big on eating out at Italian restaurants. The food just never seemed as good as my mom’s. My first love is bread so naturally I eat a lot of sandwiches. When I started to think about where I could get a good meatball sandwich in Atlanta, I literally could not think of one. I was stumped. I guess people always think about that one time they got a meatball sub at Subway and it wasn’t that great so they just never thought to order one again. I wanted to make people fall in love with the meatball sandwich. It’s a hearty, comfort food that often gets overlooked. That’s why we chose balls. Atlanta needed it and no one makes them like my mom.
3. How did you craft your ball flavors? Are they family recipes or new flavor pairings of your own?
It’s an age old family recipe done in the true Italian style. The base of all of our balls is basically the same and then we get weird. We just think about things we would like to eat and try it. Most of the time, they turn out great. Every now and then, we think nah that wasn’t right for a meatball.
4. Which meatball is your favorite? Why?
The Napoli, hands down. It is a meatball made with pine nuts and flame raisins inside. When people first hear it, they think it’s a weird flavor for a meatball. My mom has been making it since I was a kid and it just works. There is a hint of sweetness and a nutty ending that excites the taste buds. It takes familiar ingredients and puts them in an unfamiliar form. That’s what we like to do. We want our patrons to try things they wouldn’t have tried before because that’s what makes eating exciting and memorable.
5. I love your branding, “you won’t regret putting our ballz in your mouth” – edgy and humorous. What was your inspiration behind your brand strategy?
A friend actually sent that over as a suggestion when we first starting planning our marketing strategy. I didn’t even think twice about it. It was perfect. We often tell our skeptics that we offer 100% money back if they are not satisfied. No one has come back for their money yet! We are living in a world where you have to be edgy. Sure you are going to piss off a few people. They are going to read it, scoff, and decide not to eat our balls because of it. If you are the type of person that is offended so easily, you probably aren’t the type of patron we want to serve. I have always been a bold, outspoken person and I believe in our food so I stand behind our promise.
6. Do you plan to expand to a brick and mortar space or will you continue your mobile restaurant?
Yes, we would like to open our first brick and mortar next summer. A lot of our fans are already asking where they can get our food. I wanted to make sure that we had a strong fan base before we attempted to open a stationary location. I have put everything I have in to this, so failure is not an option. When you open your doors, you have to make sure there is a demand. That’s what we are working hard to create.
7. What are 3 things you cannot leave home without?
- My ipad
- My cell phone
- My lipstick
8. What has been the biggest obstacle you have faced while pursuing your food truck dreams?
The food truck itself has been an obstacle. The company that built out our food truck did an excellent job with the buildout but the truck itself was a lemon. It has broken down many times in route to events and we have had to incur a lot of towing and repair costs that we weren’t prepared for. As a new business, meeting your obligations is crucial so we get towed, and then we don’t do the sales we were hoping for and we take a real hit. I have managed to start this business on the low end of the spectrum compared to other trucks out there so I have to take the bad with the good. When you have a mobile business, vehicle issues are a part of it.
9. What is the best piece of advice you have received? What advice would you give to someone else looking to follow their dream?
I would say the best piece of advice I have received from someone was to remember that every great entrepreneur has been through a similar journey riddled with obstacles and doubts and sometimes even failures. If you are expecting it to be easy then you are in for a big surprise because nothing worth having is easy. I have to remind myself that these ups and downs are a natural part of business ownership, and if it wasn’t challenging then everyone would be their own boss.
If I could give any one piece of advice to someone wanting to pursue their dreams, I would tell them to make sure they build a strong social network. Not business, but social. When I needed money, a friend helped me get it. When I needed followers, my friends were the first ones to click “like”. When we needed a slogan, friends sent over ideas. When I needed a graphic designer, a friend suggested a friend who essentially brought our vision to life for free. When I go out to an event, my friends always show up to support me. When I am short staffed, friends always show up to work. They are my biggest supporters and on days when I have a total breakdown and question everything I am trying to do, it’s my friends (and mother) that bring me back to reality and make me realize I have made the right decision.
10. So if we are in Atlanta on a Friday night, where can we find the Meatballerz truck?
I wish I had a better answer for you, but for now it is pretty random. You can follow us on Facebook where I post our public events, and also use the awesome new app called Road Chow. It is the only locally based food truck app that focuses on food trucks in our city. You can open the app and see all the of food trucks checked in within a few miles of your location. Since we are still new, we just take the work as it comes! As we continue to expand our following and the demand for our food increases, we will be at more routine locations in the city.
Thank you so much for allowing me to tell you more about Meatballerz. It’s great to share my journey with others and hopefully I can inspire at least one person to follow their dreams.
be sure to follow Cara's journey as her truck becomes the nest Atlanta fave. you can find out more by visiting the Meatballerz Instagram and Facebook page. when you find it, be sure to rate them on Yelp and enjoy those delicious ballz!
did you enjoy reading about Cara? tell me which meatball goodness was your favorite in the comments below.