by Shawn Nowlin
After completing 12 years in the United States Army, Julio Battistini decided to try his hand at a new career: the food truck industry. The Salem resident debuted his new business on Friday, June 1.
“I always wanted to cook and had a natural ability to create unique and tasteful items. The hardest part was actually taking that step into making my dream a reality,” Battistini said. “The start was not easy. It took a lot of work and commitment. I plan on taking five percent of my profit and giving it to Veteran-owned organizations. I am really excited about the future.”
In addition to homemade burgers, Julio’s set menu also includes chicken sandwiches, pizza and hot dogs among other selections. No item costs over $10, which is by design.
“I currently prepare everything on my own. My mom and a close friend help me on occasion,” Battistini said. “There are items from as little as 50 cents. Prices vary on the market; however, I do not want anyone being price gouged for good food.”
Julio’s hours vary each week. Weekly schedules are posted on his Facebook page @JCVeteranCanteen.
A true military brat growing up, Julio says it was his mother that instilled in him a passion for cooking.
“She never used recipes because she learned from a long line of relatives,” Battistini said. “She always told me, ‘you need to learn everything yourself and never rely on anyone. That will make you stronger than you will ever know.’”
Julio plans on expanding his business by advertising, using social media and applying the life lessons he has learned over the years.
“All of the local competition has a huge advantage by having an actual mobile food truck. I prepare my items in a commercial kitchen by utilizing the LEAP (Local Environmental Agriculture Project) in Roanoke. I hope to one day operate my own mobile food truck,” Battistini said. “I will continue to save and make that dream a reality. I am very active on Facebook, and I encourage people to check out my page to get a better sense of what I’m all about.”
If the last few weeks are any indication, Julio has a lot of hard work ahead of him.
“My first week into the food truck industry was rough as my anticipation quickly fell to disappointment. I quickly learned how to prepare for any obstacle,” Battistini said. “Since then, I have made my business more known. With my unique taste in food, low prices and upbeat personality, I try to ensure that everyone leaves with a smile.”
Julio says as of now he does not have any final weekly hours but expects that to change over the summer.