The Benefits Of Vehicular Vittles

 Photos Courtesy Of Morale, Welfare & Recreation-NAVSTA Great Lakes

Photos Courtesy Of Morale, Welfare & Recreation-NAVSTA Great Lakes

For those looking to bring food and beverage options and customer convenience to a variety of events, consider a “Rolling Restaurant.”   

The Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Department at the Naval Station Great Lakes in Illinois utilizes its “Rolling Restaurant” to support its concession efforts on the base throughout the year. This restaurant on wheels was originally purchased in 2006 at another base for approximately $100,000. Five years later, the Great Lakes MWR acquired the food truck and installed some minor upgrades—including a customized exterior with a bright red façade that featured “MWR,” and the “Rolling Restaurant” signature.  

Inside, the truck sports a flat grill, a fryer, a steam table, warmers, refrigerators, a freezer, an ice bin, and plenty of prep space. In addition, the unit has a hand-wash system and three compartmental sinks to meet health and sanitation requirements. Local health inspectors routinely inspect the truck’s kitchen and general operation to ensure compliance with all applicable policies and standards. The mobile kitchen runs off of a gas generator, but also may be plugged into a 30-amp outlet, if necessary, to keep the generator running and to support the kitchen equipment (mainly a refrigerator/freezer). Almost any meal of the day, or any menu item one can think of, can be prepared and sold from this customized vehicle.  

Bring In The Dawgs

Throughout the spring, summer, and fall of 2012, the “Rolling Restaurant” was utilized mainly for larger events and festivals, offering a wide variety of menu items such as burgers, tacos, Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, and more. However, the mobile kitchen was not utilized as much as it could have been that year. Early in 2013, Barry East, restaurant and club manager for MWR, proposed a new plan for the food truck as an extension of his current restaurant operation. He proposed a specific menu that offered specialty hot dogs and super side orders. The goal was to have the “Rolling Restaurant” travel throughout the base at least three times per week from April through October. Also known as the “Dawg Pound,” the restaurant on wheels has taken Great Lakes by storm in 2013. It’s nothing for the truck to go out to a location and ring up between $300 and $350 in sales in 75 to 90 minutes. But more importantly, the truck brings additional meal-time options to base personnel. The food truck continues to be used for special programs, sporting events, concerts, and various activities sponsored by the MWR department.  

Charitable Chow

After the “Dawg Pound” concept was created this past spring, a secondary fundraising program also was established for the not-for-profit groups on the base, as well as for local commands whose organizations use fundraising dollars to help offset command/unit picnics for active-duty military personnel and their families. Here’s how the program works: when a group reserves the “Rolling Restaurant” or “Dawg Pound” for a specific day and location, the


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