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Food truck invade F.I.U. Homecoming

Rodolfo Roman
Special to The Miami Herald
A few years ago, Joaquin Ramos Jr. was overweight.
He knew he had to change his lifestyle, shed over 40 pounds from his 260-pound-plus frame — and now serves up healthy dishes to others as one of the owners of Wrap It Up, a food truck.
“Your health is the most important key in life,” said Ramos, 29 and a business administration graduate from Florida International University.
On Saturday, the truck debuted and at the parking lot located across from the FIU stadium at 11200 SW Eighth St., during the university’s homecoming celebration. Students, alumni and visitors tailgated and munched on a variety of food provided by 10 food trucks owned or operated by FIU students and alumni — or others affiliated with the school.
“Coming from a Latin household , where we are not all that
educated on obesity this inspired me to create the truck,” said
Ramos, who came up with the business plan for the truck.
Roger Clegg, FIU’s resident district manager for dining services at the Modesto
Maidique campus, said the trendy food trucks are new business model for the food industry.
“It’s an innovative way to serve food in locations were it’s
not feasible to build a restaurant,” he said. “It’s a national trend.”
Food trucks — which on Saturday included Red Koi, Perros Express, The Real Truck
Crusin Gourmet International Cuisine, Chamo’s on Wheels and Lemon Man
frozen Lemonades —served everything from sushi to arepas.
Alum Kevin Ramos enjoyed the homecoming festivities before the school’s football team faced Duke University. He indulged on a seafood paella from El Rey de la Paella.
“It is an amazing atmosphere. It’s something you can pick up and go,” he said. “You get to meet people. The difference between the restaurants is that there is so much of a variety of foods.”
Wrap it up served healthy dishes like Chicken Bacon Roulade
containing chicken breast rolled up with cranberries, feta cheese and
bacon.
“This helps people become entrepreneurs with little money,” said
Ramos, who is a full-time teacher at Miami-Dade County Public
Schools. “It’s the best way to go, but you need to have a plan.”
Joaquin and partner Giovanni Fernandez — 20 and a graduate of FIU’s hospitality school —both work together on the 24-foot long truck filled with a grill, a flat burner and kitchen area, where two chefs and a cashier take care of patrons. Propane runs the
truck and a television showcases cooking classes, while customers wait
in line to get served. Each truck sets up a table and menu and prices
are written with chalk outside.
“We strive to bring our kitchen to you,” said Fernandez, who also owns El Rey de la paella.
South Florida has been a hot bed for food truck roundups, where several different trucks line up in different locations throughout the week.
Fernandez said that on an average day the Rey de La Paella truck
makes between $500 to $1,000. Chefs and cashiers are also paid.
Advertisement of his food truck location is posted through social
media websites like Facebook and Twitter. He invested about $75,000 on
the Wrap it up truck and about $30,000 for the Rey de la Paella truck.
He hopes to team up with his alma mater, and have students work paid internships on his trucks in order to learn the business hands-on.
Carla Arana, who is Colombian, started her food truck, Perros
Express, a year ago. She serves typical food from her native
country.
“Its competitive but we enjoy it,” said Arana, whose son Javier attends FIU.

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