It is hard not to see the two brightly colored yellow food trucks parked side by side on 40th and Locust streets.
Delicias, a new arepas and Latin cuisine food truck, brought its bright wheels to campus on Feb. 19. It now occupies a space right next to the falafel and shawarma truck, Marrakesh Express, which opened last February.
Delicias offers new ethnic options on campus as it serves hand-made arepas, a grilled corn patty, filled with traditional fillings such as shredded pork, black beans, sweet plantains and cotija cheese and other traditional Latin dishes such as rice and beans.
While Delicias is new to this side of campus, it had been operating for about a year on 34th and Market streets when Lynette Gueits — who graduated from the Goergen Entrepreneurial Management Program at Wharton in 2006— purchased the truck this past September. Gueits, a real estate investor in the Philadelphia area, saw an ad for the Delicias truck on Craigslist and jumped at the opportunity.
With a love for food and a career in real estate, Gueits thought that owning a food truck was the next logical step. “If you are Latin, you are raised in a culture of food,” Gueits, who is Puerto Rican, said. “I always cook at home and everything is made from scratch.”
She added, “A food truck has no rent or electricity costs and I thought that if I was going to test out if the public liked my cooking, this was the smartest way to go.”
The Delicias truck had only been open for about a year before Gueits bought it, yet its previous owner decided to return to school and needed to find a suitable replacement to take over the business.
The only thing Gueits changed about the truck was its wrapping. Under the previous owners, the truck was wrapped in black, but Gueits hired Brands Imaging to help her design a brighter wrap with images of food in order to “give the sense that it’s a homemade, authentic menu.”
After starting work at Delicias on 34th and Market streets, Gueits saw another ad online for a food truck for sale on 40th and Locust and purchased it in November.
“I transformed the truck into what I needed,” she said.
While Gueits put a lot of work into expanding the business and getting a second truck ready, she has been enjoying working at this new location.
“There are more students here, it’s fun,” she added.
Gueits noted that her business is enhanced by her activity on Twitter and Facebook and even by students posting pictures of what they buy on Instagram.
“Students have been more than receptive to the truck,” Danny Lares, the head of food orders at the 40th and Locust location, said. “They come back day after day asking for more arepas and bringing their friends.”
The food has already been a hit with students.
“The [arepas] are delicious and not too heavy and doesn’t taste like anything else around campus,” College sophomore Amanda Schulman said.
Gueits’ success seems to be spreading down Locust.
“Since Delicias got here, I got a lot more new customers. I don’t do any advertisements but [Gueits’ activity] on Twitter and Facebook has helped my business,” the owner of Marrakesh Express, Brahim Ighladen, said.
“More new people come [to the area] and see my truck and then come back,” he added. “We’re doing a lot better since they came.”
Gueits hopes to soon add breakfast and dinner fare to the 40th and Locust location and to expand the hours the truck is open during the day. It is currently open from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., but once breakfast and dinner are added the truck will open earlier and close later.
Since opening in February, Gueits has found that she often has to close the truck early because her ingredients sell out quickly. She hopes to continue her success on campus.
“My hope is to be a local business that is a woman-owned minority business where we focus largely on our mama’s home cooking and our culture,” she said.
Gueits added, “I’m invested in this area and there’s a lot of development that can happen here — I want to be a part of it.”