Food-truck builder on a roll

Steve Moynes, owner Pizza Trucks of Canada
Steve Moynes, owner Pizza Trucks of Canada (photo robin summerfield)

As many great ideas go, this one started over a beer with a buddy.

In 1998, Steve Moynes and a friend with a great pizza recipe, hatched a plan: ‘let’s build a mobile pizza truck.’

And with that, Expressway Pizza, a restaurant and delivery service all in one, was born. Eleven franchisee trucks later and Moynes, who built the trucks himself, was definitely on to something.

Word got around that Moynes had quite a talent for building food trucks. After that, “people kept calling,” says the 59-year-old.

Today, Moynes and his family-owned company Pizza Trucks of Canada in Dugald, Manitoba, have built an estimated 100 food trucks and have orders to fill for a year and counting.

Two years ago, the food truck boom hit with Food Network shows likeEat Street and The Great Food Truck Race, says Sandy, Moynes’ wife and co-owner along with their three sons Trevor, Kevin and Steve Jr.

“Now we don’t even have to sell them anymore we just have to be competitive,” she says. The cost for a new, empty food truck starts at $50,000 and custom details go up from there.

Their restaurants on wheels are on streets across the U.S., Canada and Australia. He recently landed an order to build a pizza truck to send to Kenya. The company, Naked Pizza, is co-owned by Shark Tank shark and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

Moynes also recently salvaged a circa 1937 blue school bus in Tok, Alaska. The bus will be transformed into a New York Fries food truck for Toronto streets.

Closer to home, Moynes and his family recently finished Habanero Sombrero and Vilai’s Spice Box, which both hit Winnipeg streets this spring.

Moynes–along with his sons–builds every interior inch of the trucks including electrical, plumbing and insulating. And the team works on two or three trucks or trailers at a time in their Dugald shop.

The key to making a great food truck is a great floor plan that uses every inch, gives workers their own space and creates ideal work flow, Moynes says.

“You have to lay out the floor properly or it just won’t work.”

That can be tricky when you’re limited to 130-square-feet, the foot print of the average 18-by-7-foot food truck.

But every truck has its own charms and challenges, Moynes says. “I love designing these things. Every one is different.”

My story first appeared on cbc.ca/manitoba/scene. Here’s the link.

For a guide to Winnipeg’s food trucks click here.

For all the insider news on Winnipeg’s food, restaurant and chef scene follow me on Twitter @RSummerfield and @PegCityGrub.

Steve Moynes, owner Pizza Trucks of Canada
Steve Moynes, owner Pizza Trucks of Canada (photo by robin summerfield

Winnipeg’s ‘third wave’ coffee clatch sparks java resurgence

Thom Bargen
Thom Bargen (photo robin summerfield)

Little Sister Coffee opened for business in Winnipeg’s Osborne Village on September 11. The new coffee house is the second location for Nils Vik, owner of Main Street’s Parlour Coffee and marks the latest coffee/design house mash-up in the city.

With that in mind, here’s a story I wrote for CBC’s Scene about Winnipeg’s new wave of coffee. Here’s the link to the original story.

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Thom Jon Hiebert pours scorching water from a stainless steel kettle into a sort of glass science beaker. Inside, sits a coffee filter, but no coffee.This is not the brewing process. This is prep.

Hiebert uses the hot water to wash away any paper fibers that might otherwise land in the cup he is about to make. Only then does he add the freshly ground beans.

“These beans were roasted just 20 days ago,” he tells his customer. “You might taste a bit of berry in here and it’s also very buttery.”

Forget double-doubles or even Starbucks lattes. There’s a new breed of coffee house that does for the bean what wine bars do for the grape. Each drink has its own  pedigree, carefully concocted and expertly explained.

This ‘Third Wave’ of coffee culture has hit Winnipeg in the form of several new, locally-owned grindhouses staffed by a skilled collection of “baristacrats.” Hiebert and Graham Bargen, opened Thom Bargen late last month. The Sherbrook Street boutique joins Corydon Avenue’s MAKE/ Coffee + Stuff, Café Postal in St. Boniface and Main Street’s Parlour Coffee. Finer grinds, higher water pressure, precise temperatures and a fresher bean all add up to a better brew.

“Fresh coffee just tastes different,” says Hiebert. “There’s none of that bitterness or burnt flavour of overly roasted beans.”

“It’s not just your dad’s coffee anymore,” says Adrienne Huard, co-owner of Café Postal. “It’s about rediscovering all the aspects of espresso.”These new merchants even know the varying harvest times in order to serve in-season beans. “It’s like wine,” explains MAKE/ Coffee + Stuff barista Hailey Darling.

These coffeehouses buy fair-trade beans from roasters like Pilot and Phil & Sebastian, Canadian roasters who actually visit the farms and meet the growers.

“Once you’ve tasted actual fresh coffee you’ll never go back,” promises Bargen.

MAKE Coffee & Stuff
MAKE Coffee & Stuff (photo robin summerfield)