CJ’s BBQ Cruiser, which is likely Maywood’s first licensed food truck, will open for business on Sunday. | Below left, the truck’s chef and owner, Chris Jossell, making it official. || Photos provided
Wednesday, March 1, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || Updated: 4:50 p.m.
When Maywood native and Proviso East graduate Chris Jossell decided that he wanted to put his culinary education to use and open a food truck, he didn’t go to area food truck hotbeds like Chicago, where he currently lives, or Oak Park.
Instead, said his wife, Kesha, he came back home. The couple’s intention is to use the food truck as a stepping stone before working up enough capital to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant. Hence, CJ’s BBQ Cruiser.
Kesha said village officials, who confirmed during a phone interview on Wednesday that the license was issued, told her that CJ’s would be the first licensed food truck to operate in Maywood.
“His whole idea was to have a restaurant, but those require a lot more capital and finance,” Kesha said. “So to get started in the restaurant business, we thought that, since food trucks are becoming a lot more accepted, we would invest in one of them. But since Chris is from Maywood and [the village] doesn’t have any food trucks, we came here.”
Chris Jossell, the owner of CJ’s BBQ Cruiser, outside of what will likely be the first (and only) licensed food truck operating in Maywood when it opens for business on Sunday. Bottom left, his wife, Kesha, in front of the truck. | Photos provided
Kesha, 40, said that she and her husband discovered that, while Chicago is something of a hotbed of food truck activity nowadays, the regulations for actually starting one are vastly more complex than in the suburbs. In addition, the licenses are a lot more expensive and more difficult to obtain.
“Some of your suburbs are less costly in terms of getting a license to run a food truck,” Kesha said. “The suburbs are also friendlier to new businesses.”
Kesha, who manages the operation’s social media, marketing and other administrative demands, said that navigating the licensure process in Maywood was relatively smooth.
“With Maywood, it wasn’t very long to get our license,” she said. “They were very helpful, they told us what we needed and helped us get it accomplished. So, we’re very proud to have started somewhere that is food-truck friendly.”
Kesha said her husband, who previously operated a nonprofit, through which he taught young people how to cook, will be serving up ribs, rib tips, pulled pork, brisket and fried chicken made to order. You can also purchase sides, such as baked beans and French fries (both the regular kind and sweet potato).
Sunday, March 5, will be the couple’s first day of business. They’ll be parked in front of Rock of Ages Baptist Church, 1309 Madison St. in Maywood, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
They’ll be open throughout the year, stopping at various destinations that may include Loyola University Medical Center and Maybrook Courthouse. The official stops still haven’t been finalized. Kesha said that customers will be able to learn about the truck’s daily whereabouts by going on the business’s Facebook (click here) and Twitter page. The latter will be operable on March 5, she said.
They’re hoping to attract hungry customers from all over the area, Kesha added. So far, she said, food trucks need a license to operate in each town they stop in, so sales will be limited to Maywood. The couple, however, may consider expanding and acquiring licenses to operate in nearby suburbs as well. In the meantime, you can always come to them. VFP
For more info on CJ’s BBQ Cruiser, visit the website here.