Name: Andrew Martino
Business/Location: Ghost Truck Kitchen/Jersey City, NJ
Specialty: Changing the takeout food game.
What problem does your business solve?: I had one simple mission when I started Ghost Truck: make takeout food better. To me, better meant higher quality ingredients, more creative options, eco-friendly packaging, and order ahead technology.
What makes your business unique?: I had a crazy idea to make our ordering experience like being in front of a bunch of awesome food trucks. That ordering experience was the inspiration behind our “digital food truck” menus. The menus give us the freedom to be creative and seasonal with our talented culinary team, while giving the customer a variety of delicious scratch-made options. The result is a delivery and pickup only experience; there is no sit down restaurant which people traditionally recognize.
What’s your story?: I got my start working at a bar at Syracuse University. After graduating with a business degree and going on "real" job interviews in NYC, I disappointed my family and took a job as the GM of a restaurant and nightclub on Long Beach Island. After six years on LBI, Superstorm Sandy hit me hard, and I moved to San Diego, continuing to manage restaurants and bars. Then I took an opportunity with a restaurant group to become the Director of Operations, before eventually opening up my own hospitality consulting company. In 2017, fate led me back to Jersey City, where I settled down with my fiancé. While doing research at several fast casual chains, I was amazed at the amount of takeout orders going out and how poorly they were executed. I began to reverse engineer a concept that was made only for takeout and came up with Ghost Truck Kitchen.
One piece of advice you have for other food entrepreneurs: If you don't love it, don't do it.
What do you wish you had known before you started your business?: How slow the wheels turn in NJ when it comes to the permit process.
What’s your greatest challenge in your business and how are you overcoming it?: Not taking money from outside investors has been the biggest challenge. I am overcoming it by doing as much of the work as possible by myself, going to auctions and searching out used items instead of buying new, defining what I need versus what I want, and starting a Kickstarter to raise additional operating capital.
What are you most proud of about your business?: Creating a unique concept that has never been done before in the neighborhood that I live in.
What do you love most about being a food entrepreneur?: The reaction of a satisfied customer.
Help Ghost Truck Kitchen purchase eco-friendly packaging and pay their workers a livable wage by contributing to its Kickstarter campaign.