Aroy-D, the Thai Elephant Truck
We are the first and ONLY authentic Thai food truck in New Jersey. We first opened our window in October 2011 after years of research and planning and a lot of hard work. Chef Pupay chose to take a paycut to go and learn her trade in several restaurants in the NJ area. After working in virutally every area of the restaurant scene here, she took a trip to Thailand where she studied at the Culinary Institute of Bangkok under the tutilage of the chef to the King of Thailand.
Jon was the handyman. While working in a corporate IT office, he would come home at night, make the daily trip to the hardware store and buy tools and supplies to convert the truck from a tool truck into the now-famous Thai Elephant truck! The whole process took about 6 months.
We opened the truck in Oct of 2011 (not the BEST time of year to open a food truck btw!). The winter was COLD and we had no way to close the window from the bitter NJ winds. But Pupay was brave and toughed it out. We started parking at Montclair HS and then at Walnut St in Montclair for dinner. Jon would leave his day job and go straight to Walnut to try and recruit new Elefans as they got off the train.
In March 2012 we obtained our Hoboken permits and began taking the truck there for lunch and dinner several times a week. In the summer of 2012, Pier 13 opened in Hoboken and we started vending there with the other trucks.
In October of 2012, NJ was hit by Superstorm Sandy. We lost power along with so many others but decided we could take our truck out since it was fully self-sustaining. We went to Montclair the day after and were overwhelmed by the people that came out and their gratitude at getting a hot meal. The next day, we received so many msgs from our Hoboken Elefans and we decided to go there. What we found was a city in complete darkness. We started giving out free coffee (which so many couldn't get) and used our truck as a charging station for phones/ipads and other devices.
We then decided we needed to take our truck to the hardest hit areas. For the rest of the year, we drove our truck to many areas of the Jersey shore and gave away our food to the workers and residents of the hardest hit towns, including Seaside Heights and Ortley beach. We aligned with The Bucket Brigade and made some great friends along the way.
The whole experience inspired Jon to found the NJ Food Truck Association. It was initially an effort to create a voice for trucks across the Garden State and give us a presence to deal with major corporations and government institutions. Today, it is focused on elevating and legitimizing the industry while advocating for the rights of trucks to operate legally.