This article was originally published on YourMississaugaBiz.com.
In just a few months, Mississauga entrepreneur Johnny Verdile has already established a name for himself in the GTA’s food truck scene.
The Italian-Canadian owner of the gourmet food truck Rome’n Chariot has already become a regular fixture at special events, corporate gigs and lunch setups from Niagara to Toronto.
Since rolling out his custom-designed restaurant on wheels in May, the 46-year-old’s work has also received quite a bit of attention from the media, including a coveted spot on the third season of the popular Food Network show Eat St.
Verdile told YourMississaugaBiz watching the show for a year was what really inspired him to look into getting his own gourmet vehicle. Not long after he was serving up his “Italian comfort food” full-time, his dream of being on the show came true.
“I couldn’t answer the phone because I was in the corner crying,” he said. “My wife actually took the call. Next thing you know, in less than a month, we were filming.”
Verdile grew up in Vaughan, Maple and other parts of the GTA, where he spent 30 years in the construction industry. But two years ago he moved to Mississauga, his wife’s home town. “She went to Loyola [Catholic Secondary School] and has been here for many, many years,” he said. “And now that I’ve been here for two years I think it’s a fantastic city.”
This love for Mississauga extends to his suppliers.
While he and his interior designer wife Theresa designed the eye-catching custom graphics of a Roman gladiator and the Colliseum on the side of the truck, Mississauga company Trim-Line of Metrowest on Drew Road in north-eastern Mississauga, finished and printed the vehicle wrapping.
Verdile does ship in also supports other local businesses by getting all his meats from Massimo’s Fine Meats on Winston Churchill Blvd and his bread from Lazar’s Bakery on Central Parkway West.
“He’s making my bread at 4:30 in the morning so when I drop by at 7:30 my bread is so hot, so fresh, I gotta take a bite out of it,” he said. “My bread is fresh every morning, my meat is fresh every morning. It’s fantastic.”
Verdile would like to do more of his business in Mississauga rather than needing to commute to downtown Toronto for lunchtime crowds. And he’s personally heard from local residents who are equally frustrated about the lack of opportunities due to existing city bylaws.
“They don’t want to travel all the way to Toronto for a $6, $7, $8 sandwich,” he said. “They wish that they had it at their back doors.”
Verdile cites the presence of many commercial buildings, the headquarters of many Fortune 500 companies and the thousands of employees in Mississauga as a huge business opportunity. “They’d love to be able to walk out and travel a hundred feet to a truck and grab a beautiful meal that you wouldn’t find in a restaurant or a hot dog cart or a chip truck,” he said, before pausing briefly. “No disrespect to them.”
“I think the city just needs to open up the wings and let us fly,” he said. “We’ve got some great food and offerings for the public and it’s a public that want us.”
“I think there’s room for everyone,” he said with a laugh. “I just want to let everyone know Johnny’s out there and I want to share.”