One of the great advantages of food trucks are that owners are on the truck daily. This bring a tight bond between the owner and their hungry patrons. Since many of us only get that small time between ordering and grabbing our food, I wanted to help bring us together. That’s when I got the idea, Behind The Wheel. Gets me back to telling the story and further enjoying – being around food trucks. This week I highlight on Jay’s Italian Ice.
It gets hot in the Triangle. Miles from a sea breeze, we can get develop this humidity claustrophobia. Thankfully you may see this powder, baby blue cart (I am too smart to describe the color another way in these parts) with the smiling Jay Jones offering a nice cool refreshing dessert. Jay is as cool as his cart and extremely friendly. Honestly, I can order from a truck and leave without mentioning who I am. But Jay quickly recognizes me and introduces himself. I’m so glad he broke the ice, because this is why I write these articles. I too can put up those blinders and just focus on the food. But within minutes talking to Jay, Jay is more than the man behind the wheel.
Why did you get into the food truck business?
Before Jay decided to run a Italian Ice cart, he worked in Information Technology (IT). He’s always wanted to mentor young people. Long hours behind a computer and little opportunity after work to do so, he came up with the Italian Ice cart: Jay’s Italian Ice. With this opportunity, he could mentor young people by giving them opportunities and show them hard work pays off.
I can relate with Jay here having a desk job myself. We can give so much back to our younger generation, but feel constricted by cloth walls surrounding us. As he told me this, it was heartwarming to feel someone wanting to change their profession to position them to do give back to the community. But before you cash out your savings on that food truck idea, Jay took on a lot of risk and rallied support from his family to do this. I found this to be a common theme with food trucks, where not only does the owner gamble on these ideas, but your family as well.
Do you want to open a restaurant?
Jay’s goal is not to open a restaurant, but a gas station. I had to stop and ask him again, “I’m sorry, a gas station?” Yes, Jay would like to open a two-story gas station. The gas station would have a lower level with a convenience store and second level with a studio/classroom for young people to learn Science and Math (key desires we need young people excited in). He already has a goal and plan to get there, just needs to keep selling from his cart to make his vision tangible.
What is your favorite flavor?
It has to be the Arnold Palmer: a mixture of Iced Tea and Lemon. The Lemon is a guest favorite, which I got a chance to try. It wasn’t too tart or sour, very refreshing like a ice, cold lemonade.
What would you like to see on the menu?
Right now the cart can hold 4 flavors and he would like to upgrade to add more and add more features. Though, he constantly rotates flavors, which I was surprised to hear chocolate (dairy-free!) was one of them. On this visit, the mystery flavor was the seasonal Peach and like the Lemon, a refreshing summer flavor.
What do you do for the community?
If mentoring young people was not enough, Jay goes beyond just that. He usually gives part of his profits back to non-profits that he works at. Knightdale schools, Enloe, and at my most recent visit, Ornamentea’s Pop-Up Sunday (which usually has a featured non-profit) are all places Jay has been a vendor where he’s been able to help. Since he mostly deals with cash, he can immediately give to these organizations for their financial needs.
What other facts do we need to know?
For a dessert, these are relatively healthy. Everything is water-based, so they are fat-free, cholesterol-free, dairy-free, and no high fructose corn syrup (pure cane sugar). A regular Italian Ice (3 scoops) is 45 calories and 24 grams of sugar (compared to a can of soda which can be 140 calories and 42 grams of sugar).
Want to follow them?
Jay usually sets up at 2400 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh across from NC State Campus Monday thru Friday. For weekend events, check Facebook and Twitter for updates.
Want to be highlighted on Behind The Wheel? Feel free to contact below or direct message me via Twitter