Food Truck Frenzy

Cindy Dilla of Paradise Melts

The business: Paradise Melts

What they're packin': Comfort food-grade grilled sandwiches that will kick crappy grilled cheese's butt -- Must-trys include the Veggie (provolone, tomato, basil, arugula, roasted red pepper, and balsamic on sourdough) and the Ruben (pastrami, swiss, cole slaw, and 1000 island on marble rye).

Other menu items include a Build-Your-Melt option and sides that change up often, including a Mediterranean-inspired pasta salad. But one of the most surprisingly things off the truck is the spicy-sweet homemade iced chai tea that Cindy mixes up fresh every day.

Where you can find them: Every Wednesday 4 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays 8 a.m. to noon at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market.They're also apart of the Mobile Food Court every Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Keep an eye out on their Facebook for special event appearances, including one at the Litchfield Park Spring Art and Culinary Festival next March.

What you need to know: You cannot miss the bright-blue truck that is becoming a fixture at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market. Bring cash and be ready to fork over $3.50 to $6 for a specialty sandwich -- a no-frills gourmet steal. But don't forget to get your caffeine fix with a tall glass of Cindy's homemade iced chai for just $1. Take that, Starbucks.

The story: Cindy Dilla is a woman who is serious about sandwiches. A stay at home mom turned maven of all things melty, she is looking to take her West Valley-based operation to spots all across the city. We sat down with Cindy to find more about her Italian restaurant (and RV) roots, working with family, and why her truck is so big and, um, blue.

Find out more, after the jump.

What makes your melts better than the rest?
I try to use the highest quality of ingredients that I can get. I use local bread from Simply Bread, the meats come from Stanley's [Homemade Polish Sausage] usually, because they have the best pastrami ever. The arugula and basil -- it's all fresh stuff.

Your brother Pat is your business partner. How does that work out?
We've been doing special events for a while now, at things like the pumpkin farm at Halloween, but it was more for fun and to get a little extra money for vacation that year. With the truck, he helped me navigate through the permits and paper work -- he knows how to get through all that kind of stuff. He also knows how the trucks works.

Where did you draw inspiration for your concept?
We're Italian and grew up in restaurants. Back in Indiana we had uncles who owned restaurants and we grew up working in them. We also had an uncle who had RV's. So, it kind of came together. It sounds kind of silly, but my brother and I knew how to build it out and it has evolved to what we have now. Also, I wouldn't serve something I don't like. Food is important. It was important growing up, and food is a part gathering and having fun. [Having the truck is] like throwing a little party every day.

Where did you get the bold, cheesy design for the truck?
I just wanted it to be bright and fun, and like something no one had seen before. I actually just got some teenage boys to paint it for me. I bought the paint and told them, "make it cute." I think it turned out really cute.

How was getting the truck up and running, including any hooplah with permits?
I haven't had a problem with it at all. It's all black and white -- if you just do what they ask you, then everything is fine. My truck passed first time through. I don't think they're out to get anybody. But we've done special events for years, so we are familiar with it and how it works. In my experience, if you've done something wrong they'll tell you exactly waht you need to do to correct it. It's just like having a restaurant on wheels.

Was there a driving force behind why you went mobile?
My brother and I talked about having a restaurant for years. We were looking around and he actually already had the truck and the trailer, and I said, "Well, why don't we use the truck for something?" The truck offers so much more than a brick and mortar -- It's nice to be able to be in different cities on different days of the week.

What does the future hold for Paradise Melts?
Just staying busy. This specific truck will probably stay sandwiches, but that doesn't mean we won't get another truck and do other things. The most important is giving the best product that I can. We've only been operating since October, so it's still pretty new. We've had a really good response, and it has picked up every week. We get a lot of positive input, where people actually walk back to the truck and tell me that they loved it, which is nice. Right now, that is what I'm going for.

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Kelly Green