Dan Pennachietti has a mission to expand Philadelphia’s food truck and cart scene.
Pennachietti co-founded the Philadelphia Mobile Food Association, an organization that acts as a community to benefit mobile food vendors, as well as the city of Philadelphia as a whole. The PMFA provides aid such as event coordination, legislative assistance and advertising to food trucks.
According to Pennachietti, the association resulted from brainstorming that began in October of 2011. They then began advertising to food trucks and carts, many of which expressed interest.
With help from Penn, the organization fully took off in January and February.
“Without Penn’s legal team, I don’t think we would be incorporated yet, to be quite honest,” Pennachietti said.
The PMFA also received financial help from Wharton.
Once the association was formed, Pennachietti said, “some food trucks initially partnered with us and gave us some help.” The association held its first meeting at the beginning of this year at the Law School.
Currently, food trucks around campus including Hub Bub Coffee and Gigi & Big R Caribbean American Soul Food are members of the association. More trucks near campus are in the process of joining, Pennachietti said.
According to PMFA Secretary George Bieber, there are currently 73 members, which is well ahead of initial projections. “Back in February or so, we were hoping to have 50 members by this time,” he said.
“Not all of them have trucks yet,” he said, adding that it generally takes a food trucker three to four months to get a license.
Pennachietti said the mobile aspect is what makes the PMFA unique and essential to Philadelphia food services. Mobility makes PMFA members incredibly multifaceted.
“Food trucks are really cool because you can do so many different things with them. They can be a part of a festival, then on the same day they can cater another event,” he said.
Mobile food vendors can join the PMFA for a membership fee ranging from $125 to $500.
Joe Cohen, the co-owner of Gozen Yogurt, a PMFA food truck, said the decision to join the association has been well worth it.
“They help you get into events. You work with other food trucks, and they basically get you into the community,” Cohen said.
He added that one great bonus is that the PMFA helps vendors with certain legal requirements such as attaining permits.
“It’s necessary for up-and-coming food trucks, just to be part of what’s going on in Philly,” Cohen said.
“Most of our trucks are fairly new,” Pennachietti said, so they are still working on the necessary permits.
In addition to founding the PMFA, Pennachietti co-owns his own food truck, called Lil Dan’s which serves speciality sandwiches.
The truck stopped by Penn campus at SkimmerFest and a small graduate student event in September.
“The bread is the best part,” first-year design school student Emily Tyrer said.
Lil Dan’s recently revealed their newest recipe, chicken breast with vanilla, Oreo and hot sauce, which they gave out as free samples.
“It was definitely a new flavor,” Tyrer added.