debtTruck driver Jonathan Anderson’s journey began on New York City’s Avenue of the Americas. This is where the glimmer of an idea from a former Information Technology expert at Time Magazine turned into something more. Well, the idea is Big John’s Gourmet Burgers. best new jersey food trucks series.
Jonathan was nicknamed “Big John” by his friends. He spent most of his life in the Garden State, only leaving briefly during his time in the Navy. Upon returning to New Jersey, he enrolled at his DeVry Technical School, earning a degree in Computer Information Systems. His career led him to New York City, but his destiny works in mysterious ways: It took nearly two decades, but Jonathan now runs his own business. From his Big John’s Gourmet Burgers food truck, he offers a variety of specialty burgers in northern and central New Jersey.
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It took him months to perfect his secret blend of beef and spices to create his signature, decadent burger. His current success is a testament to his hard work, determination and, of course, delicious burgers. best of new jersey I spoke with Jonathan to learn everything there is to know about Big John’s Gourmet Burgers. to exclude his secret recipe.
Best New Jersey Food Truck Interview: Big John’s Gourmet Burgers
New Jersey Charms: What were you doing before you started your food truck?
Jonathan: I worked for Time magazine for about 17 years. I was an IT person, providing applications, support, and a little bit of development work.
BONJ: What inspired you to start making tracks?
Jonathan: I was working on Sixth Avenue on the Avenue of the Americas, right across from Radio City. And I watched all the food trucks stop there for lunch for three hours. They are their own bosses and they are all doing well and are getting out of here. ’ So I started doing research while working at Time. Just looking at the cost of food trucks and how much it costs to run something like that.
Of course, time no longer exists. Time Magazine does, but Time Inc., where I worked, has closed. Everyone let go and I got the package. Immediately, without hesitation, the idea came to me to stay in IT or do my own thing. And I thought, ‘Yeah, I want to start a food truck. I’ve always liked burgers. Drive 45 minutes to find a good burger.
I invited my friends over to my house and made different burgers and asked them which one they liked best. I tried various kinds of meat. I made hamburgers with lamb and beef short ribs, and settled on ground beef. Hamburgers are Angus Chucks. They are actually big giant burgers. I think he has a 7 oz burger, so the brioche is the perfect size burger for his bun. Fresh toppings and unique flavors.
BONJ: What year did you start Big John’s Gourmet Burgers?
BONJ: How was your first season?
Jonathan: very difficult, very tough. I started in January, the slowest time of the year. Finding a business and finding someone to hire you is hard. Then April came along and things started to open up. And people got to know me and I got to know them. I was able to get some contacts and was able to get more and better jobs.
BONJ: What kind of burgers do you offer on your menu?
Jonathan: There is a regular cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles, which in some ways resembles a California cheeseburger. And I call it my Big John Burger. Then I have a bacon cheeseburger. BBQ He has a burger called Bacon. Contains onion rings, bacon, cheddar cheese and barbecue sauce. Really popular. They have chili cheese, mushroom swiss, blue cheeseburger and vegan burger. “Sunnyside” is a bacon cheeseburger topped with a Sunnyside egg. Another burger he introduced last year is the mac and cheese burger. Freshly baked mac and cheese on a burger on a brioche bun.
BONJ: Do you change the type of burger for each season or event?
Jonathan: I have a great variety and usually stick to it. Hot dogs, fried chicken sandwiches, cheese fries, chili or bacon.
BONJ: Please tell us about catering.
Jonathan: i have 3 packages. One is basic. Then there is “Plus”, then there is Deluxe. Deluxe is my entire menu including cheese fries, all the burgers I have, chicken sandwiches, and everything.
If people want to contact me, they can visit my Facebook page. If you go to my Facebook page, there is a contact form from there. Then ask a series of questions. How many people will attend your event?
BONJ: What is your favorite event to attend throughout the year?
Jonathan: There are many sports events for children, such as lacrosse and soccer, as well as outdoor events.Kids love hamburgers and they run when they see a hamburger on the side of my truck [laughs]I also like school events, street festivals and food truck events. We like to do food truck specific events like wine and beer gardens and have a series of very good food trucks. I’m usually fine with them.
BONJ: What advice would you give to a young food carrier new to the business?
Jonathan: Whatever your specialty, perfect it. Don’t try to do too many different things. And be consistent. It’s hard to be consistent, so be consistent in what you offer and how you do it. This is why McDonald’s and Burger King work. Consistency in flavors, flavors and menus means you know what you’re getting before you walk in the door. So be consistent.
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All photos: © Patrick Lombardi / Best of NJ