Zane Caplansky dishes on what it's like starting up a food truck in Toronto

Caplansky’s Delicatessen is about to go mobile with the launch of its new food truck tomorrow at the Beaches Jazz Festival. Thundering Thelma, as the truck is known — named after owner Zane Caplansky’s Nana — will be available for private functions and corporate events. Caplansky is looking to license his truck to sell on public property soon. We caught up with him to find out just what it takes to make a meals-on-wheels deli work.

Why a food truck?
Food trucks are a wonderful way to take deli to different festivals. Last summer, we did large scale events and it became clear that a truck would be a good way to accomplish those.

What are the city’s regulations for food trucks?
The city treats food trucks as a restaurant on wheels. They need all the same safety and health regulations like hand washing, fire alarm, freezer, dishwasher. Toronto licenses don’t allow trucks on public property south of Eglington, east of Bathurst or west of the Don River. We can operate on private property in those areas.

How did you deal with the regulations?
We haven’t gone for public licensing yet. We’re operating now only on private property for events. It’s not about getting around the regulations, but it’s about conforming with the city. We had a conversation with the Toronto Health Department about what the truck has to have and then we had the same conversation with the Toronto licensing department. I think the red tape is a myth. It’s hard to find someone who’s been turned down for a license. The city has been open and welcoming; the city hasn’t been an obstacle.

Where will the truck be parked?
The excitement is that it moves around. We have a twitter account that will let people know where we are. There’s a discovery on part of the customers to track us down. For lunches we’ll be mostly in the downtown core.

How does the truck menu compare to the restaurant’s?
It’s going to be simplified and we’ll change it up.

What is inside the truck?
It has a kitchen. Fridges, freezers, fryers, steamer, oven, serving window, storage station, hand washing sink. It’s like an old Purolator truck. It’s 18 ft. long, 8 ft. wide and 8 ft. high.

Thundering Thelma will sell items like smoked meat sandwiches, barbecue brisket sandwiches, poutine and hot dogs

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