Last year, when Tom Carieri sold his 23-year-old Laney’s Restaurant in Manchester, he told his wife, Franci, that he was done with the food business. “The only thing you’re going to see me eating is someone else’s food,” he recalls telling her.
The food biz has a powerful gravitational force, though. After one year of trying to return to corporate real estate, Carieri started dreaming about food trucks, and he visited his daughter in New York City for research. “When I came across a grilled-cheese truck, a light bulb went off in my head,” he remembers. “I said, ‘Bingo! This is what I’m going to do.’ Everybody loves grilled cheese.”
In April, Carieri launched his Say Cheese! food truck in Rutland. Now he doles out gooey, fresh-grilled sandwiches from the window of a bright-yellow truck he had custom built in Florida.
Customers can choose from six sandwiches — such as Brie, caramelized onions and apples on wheatberry bread — or build their own combos from four breads, six cheeses and toppings that range from pulled pork to sautéed red peppers and zucchini. “I keep the yellow American cheese for the traditionalists who need to have it,” Carieri concedes.
Carieri parks his truck outside Rutland’s Party Store Superstore at 129 Strongs Ave. Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. He plans to take his show on the road to summer events, such as this weekend’s Mayfest Arts & Craft Festival in Bennington, the Vermont State Fair and Cheese Traders and Wine Sellers’ tent sale in June. “And I haven’t done any advertising yet,” he says, marveling slightly at the flurry of press.
The original print version of this article was headlined "Melted to Order"