In the past few years, the niche culinary industry of food trucks has skyrocketed in popularity. According to The Economist, the industry has increased revenues at a steady 7.9 percent in the past five years and is supposed to increase as time goes on.
Due to strict requirements by the city of Lincoln, the local food truck scene remains on the fringes, but these limitations haven’t curbed the ambition of Nebraska native Daniel Pierce in his increasingly successful food truck Gonzo Gourmand.
Pierce started out as a cook for the National Guard in high school and worked extensively in the restaurant industry as a cook and eventually a manager at a local Brewsky’s restaurant. After attending school for finance at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, the idea of owning a business was a logical part of Pierce’s progression.
“I’ve always had this entrepreneurial spirit, and I have always wanted to own something,” Pierce said. “I wanted to own the success and own the experience, so it just made sense.”
After perusing Facebook Marketplace, Pierce came across a food truck for sale, bought it and had the sides painted to spoof Salvador Dalí’s famous “The Persistence of Memory,” swapping Dalí’s clocks for burgers and tomatoes..
Steve Prester, the previous owner of the truck, has remained a big part of the business as a close friend of Pierce’s.
“Food trucks are not for the faint-of-heart. There has to be an inner drive for this business,” Preston said. “The Food Network never gives but the glory of the venture. There are many inglorious aspects to running a food truck business.”
From the get-go, Pierce wanted to create a unique culinary experience for his customers, incorporating a nonspecific and distinctly original menu, which includes fare like poutine and Korean BBQ tots. Also on the menu is an array of burgers, like a peanut butter burger and a corn cheese-stuffed burger.
“I knew what I was going to make was going to be super high quality — I didn’t want to be another generic fast food place, and I really think we have made that happen,” Pierce said. “Almost all of our ingredients, aside from bread and tortillas, are homemade and fresh.”
Pierce buys his beef product by the cow from a local rancher and has the meat undergo a 28-day aging process to allow for the specific notes and flavors to be more prevalent than the average 15-day-aged beef.
According to Pierce, Lincoln’s law concerning food trucks prohibits the ability to park on public and city streets. Due to this, Gonzo is largely hired for events and catering rather than the typical food truck experience of parking on a street and serving.
“Our busiest season is the summer,” Pierce said. “That’s when we do a lot of fairs and festivals. Those are always fun. It’s just such a blast getting out there and meeting people.”
When it comes to the future of his food truck, Pierce said he hopes to cater more corporate events and make connections that can lead to more business and foot traffic.
“[Pierce] is an honest, hard-working and caring individual,” Prester said. “He gets that relationships are what good food is built upon, and you can tell through the vision that he has given to this project.”
With drive, passion and an eclectic menu to boot, Pierce has high hopes for the places he can take his food truck.
“I am really just trying to be creative and think outside the box,” he said. “Where are the people, what is the food and experience that they want and how can I make that happen?”