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WTF? Food Truck serves dishes inspired by many cuisines including American, German, Italian, Chinese, Filipino, soul food, Polish, and more. Tim McRae, owner and founder, opened the truck three years ago and recently adopted a permanent location three days a week (Tuesday to Thursday) at Smart Tire in Lawrenceville, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. We checked in with McRae to get the scoop on the truck, the business, and of course, the name.
JERSEY BITES: What inspired you to open up your food truck?
TIM MCRAE: I’m an oil dealer in the winter. I sell heating oil. Due to the effects of global warming, my business suffered. My wife and I decided that we could do something as a seasonal business to offset our income from the oil business. We were watching our favorite channel, the Food Network, and we’re watching this segment on food trucks. And the idea was born. We did our research and then in 2013 we went down to Florida to Concession Nation and we purchased a food truck. It was really formed out of a necessity to survive—to eat—so to speak. We ended up driving the truck back.
How did you decide on the name?
It’s simple. We wanted a name that was going to stand out no matter where it was, no matter what event, wherever we parked. I wanted people to look at the truck and say, “What the f***?” And so we decided to name the truck “WTF” and decided on later that the name would stand for “Where’s The Food?” So we did for the shock value. All the trends that go on with the kids and the hashtags and abbreviations, it’s not going anywhere. If you’re an older person and you’re going to ignore it, fine, but the kids are paying attention to it. We did it to get you to come to the truck to see what we have. We wanted everything to be a question mark, hence the name “Where’s The Food?” Our logo has the question mark, too.
What is your favorite part of working on/owning a food truck?
My favorite part would be point of sale, which is at the window, and messing with the people. You get a lot of people with a lot of different attitudes and some people are angry with me because they’ve never experienced a food truck. So they have to wait in line and they’re kind of mad and angry [and hungry]. So they might be hangry, as we say. I like to deal with the people. While they’re standing there we like to entertain them. We want that experience at the window to be one-of-a-kind.
What’s your most popular menu item?
We change the menu to fit the venue. One of our most popular items has to be our shrimp po’ boy. It’s Cajun fried shrimp, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and our special zesty WTF sauce.
What menu item is your favorite to cook?
But I have a different one I like to eat. We actually started a new menu item last year. It’s General Tso’s wings. They’re deep fried wings and then we have a General Tso’s sauce that we use. We just basically coat them and they are sticky, gooey, and messy. Those are my new favorite because out of all the buffalo wing flavors, we noticed that nobody was doing any type of General Tso’s chicken wings. You go to a Chinese restaurant and you’ll get General Tso’s chicken, but one day I was there at a restaurant and I asked, “Hey, can you put this sauce on some wings,” since they have wings at Chinese restaurants. But they said no, they don’t do that. So I decided to do it myself and I made General Tso’s wings.
How would you explain a food truck to someone who has never experienced this style of dining before?
I would explain it to them as a mobile kitchen on wheels able to create any meal you can think of, just like your regular kitchen at home. But it’s mobile. We can pull up in the woods, we can pull up in the park, we can pull up at an event. It’s pretty much a mobile kitchen, with wheels.
How would you say mobility has changed your food business?
You can now go to the people and you don’t have to worry about the people coming to you. For brick and mortar, it’s all about location, but for us, it’s like “Hey, where can I park?” And if it doesn’t work out, you can always move to another location. So mobility has changed the game because we’re able to go directly to the people. You want to be visible, whether you’re a food truck or a restaurant.
Where is your truck usually found?
We are usually at festivals, fairs, and events. But now, we’re at Smart Tire. What we’re looking to do is find a location that’s on private property. Because of all the food truck laws and all the food truck restrictions, we did find a place that was private property and the person that’s parked there is actually an old employer of mine. I worked for him when I was a teenager and I kept a good report, you know I left there the right way and gave my two-week notice. Joe O’Donnell has always been good to me and he’s allowing us to park on his property.
Do you have any regulars?
We have a bunch of regulars. We maintain our regulars through social media, which is great—especially Instagram. We do use Facebook and Twitter, but I prefer Instagram. We have a lot of regular customers and they do follow us on social media faithfully.
Do you mainly stay in NJ?
We do events in Pennsylvania. We’re trying to branch out to brewery events. There are so many microbreweries and wineries, so we’re reaching out to those types of events, and we’ve ventured to North Jersey. We haven’t done anything in New York but we’d love to. Right now we’ve been in between Philadelphia and New Jersey.
Anything else you’d like to tell us?
We’re looking for more opportunities through TV and media. We would definitely do an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives! That’s one of our goals for the near future.
Image at top taken at the Pork Roll Festival, in Trenton.
All photos courtesy of WTF Food Truck.