As food truck options continue to grow in Tucson, one family is banking that bigger is better.
Joseph Sotomayor and his father, Daniel Sotomayor, launched the Jozarelli’s Italian Street Food truck earlier this month.
They enlisted the Armenco Catering Truck and Hot Dog Cart Manufacturing Co. in Los Angeles to build their vehicle from the ground up.
At 36 feet, the mobile kitchen is significantly larger than most food trucks and comes equipped with a fryer, two burners, a flattop grill, two full-sized ovens, a proofing oven, and other amenities, allowing the crew to feed a small army in one sitting.
It was designed by Joseph, who wanted something that would be able to feed the masses, whether they were on their own or participating in food truck roundups.
“A lot of food trucks run out of food if you get to a roundup too late,” said Joseph, who also is a golf instructor at JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa. “We never want that to happen.”
The launching of Jozarelli’s was nearly two years in the making for the Sotomayors.
They have strong local ties. Their ancestors were homesteaders in Tucson. The Sotomayor Ranch neighborhood in the northwest part of the city is named after the family.
Daniel Sotomayor got his start in food prep in El Paso where he was stationed in the Army. After his time in the military, he took up catering, which he stuck with for decades.
Joseph worked for his father before moving to Tucson for the University of Arizona.
The Sotomayors were first exposed to the long-term popularity of food trucks while in Los Angeles visiting Joseph’s sister.
“We go up there quite a bit,” Joseph said. “Food trucks are so popular over there. It is a different culture.”
A visit to a roundup upon their return, led them to thinking “we can do this,” Joseph said.
After 18 months of planning and a “significant investment,” the Sotomayors are finally on the road.
Their early trips out have been successful, but they are keeping off the roundup radar until they “work out the kinks.”
The truck offers a selection of personal pizzas, sandwiches, Italian wraps, salads and desserts.
Joseph, who worked at various restaurants and cafés in Tucson over the years, said Italian food was an easy choice.
“It is similar to Mexican food,” he said. “It is a family-style food, something that is important to the family.”
Sotomayor said, at this point, they are still trying to get their calendar in order, but they hope to do a lot more in the future.
The ultimate goal is to have a fleet of food trucks serving Southern Arizona.
“We are excited about where this might go,” Sotomayor said.