At age 56, Lorenzo Daliana decided to go rogue.
Like a lot of people in the service industry, Daliana, a chef and restaurateur with 30 years of experience working in Portland, lost his job due to the pandemic. He needed work but didn’t want to go back to a full-service kitchen. Instead, he wanted to provide a service.
So last August, Daliana, who grew up in Italy, bought a truck on Craigslist from some Ukranian guys. He spent the next month outfitting it with commercial-grade kitchen equipment. Then he took out a map and drew a mile-and-a-half radius around his house in Northeast Portland. From there, he penciled out five different routes—one for each day of the week.
A month later, he hopped in the truck, adorned with the word “food” in different languages and, blaring Kormac’s jaunty “Big Bad Trumpet Player” on a loop, drove his first route, serving food to people who sauntered out of their homes to see what was up.
“It’s the ice cream truck concept,” Daliana says of his new business, simply called The Food Truck. “It’s just food, not just sugar.”
The Food Truck’s menu changes every two weeks. He has grab-and-go options, but his specialty is cooking to order. Sometimes it’s stir fry, sometimes steak sandwiches, sometimes Italian food. He always has a kale noodle salad prepared.
His regulars now know his schedule and are ready to come out when they hear his signature tune. Naturally, many kids would also approach the truck and end up disappointed to find he doesn’t sell ice cream. Eventually, Daliana conceded their point: He ripped out the passenger seat and installed a freezer, which he fills with frozen treats.
“I’d like to feel that this will be my last career [change],” Daliana says. “I’ve hustled for the last 30 years. I worked weekends and nights. I lost a family. This business rips you of everything, and so I’d like to think I can just be the neighborhood jester. It’s very comforting to be under the radar.”