This week we spoke with Andrew Martino, founder of Ghost Truck Kitchen. He is a Jersey City resident who loves learning and focusing on the food technology business. For anyone living around Jersey City, we highly recommend trying out Ghost Truck Kitchen! They have pick up, delivery and even catering options. Our personal favorites include the Garlic Chicken Teriyaki Fried Rice, Chicken Wings (they have so many sauces!), and the Brookie Bars.
Tell us a little about yourself!
I am a NJ native living in Jersey City with my wife Giuliette and our dog Buddy, since 2017. I have been in the hospitality business since 2004, operating restaurants at the managerial and executive level on both coasts. While living in San Diego from 2013-16, I served as the director of operations for a multi-unit restaurant group before starting my own hospitality consulting service, Martino Hospitality. I have spent the last six years as an analyst and consultant in future food trends and operations being featured on podcasts, panels, and publications regarding ghost kitchens.
Most recently, I have launched a new business called Gold Coast Community Delivery, which is a hyperlocal delivery marketplace for restaurants that will make the restaurants the main benefactors while saving customers from erroneous fees. We plan to launch by the end of the summer with about 10 restaurants with a goal of 40 by the end of 2021. We want to spread the word to all our local independent owners and residents that there is another solution out there aside from Door Dash and Seamless. In 2020, approximately $41 million dollars left Jersey City in the form of fees and commissions paid on digital restaurant transactions. We want to keep a piece of that money in the community.
Tell us about your business! How did it start? Biggest challenge? Favorite part? Where do you see it going?
Ghost Truck Kitchen opened in 2019 as an innovative concept offering a variety of digital food truck menus all optimized for order ahead take out and delivery. We are a certified green business, our food is all made from scratch and made to order, and we use only antibiotic free protein and local produce when possible. We currently offer 12 different Ghost Trucks to order from, and we are open for lunch and dinner Tuesday-Sunday with breakfast sandwiches available on the weekends. Customers should always order direct when possible from hellogtk.com .
Back in 2017 I was doing research for a private client who was looking to invest in different fast casual concepts in Manhattan. I kept seeing less butts in seats and more take out bags. I also saw general commotion and lack of operational efficiency on the way that those take out and delivery orders were being handled and prioritized.
So I started to think about what a take out focused restaurant of the future could look like. I became obsessed with the idea of making take out better and in 2018 I began looking for a space and jumped head first into this crazy idea I had come up with. With no investors understanding what I was doing, I bootstrapped the entire venture with too much of my life savings, some small loans from family, and even smaller loan from a bank and finally, some help from friends and neighbors on kickstarter to get our doors open. Now a little more than 3 years later, here we are.
My biggest challenge is that entrepreneur life overall is extremely stressful and can be a roller coaster. The challenge is always having to be on the clock and on your game if you want to succeed. The big benefit of that is that I love what I do. I love going into the kitchen. I love working on the business. I love nerding out about the latest food tech. I love making our customers happy with food.
I want to grow GTK as big as it can become without losing our soul. If that means 2 stores, great. If we can open 20 stores that have heart, even better. But I always want to have people that care about the food we are cooking and the way we are serving our community. We are currently starting to raise money to fund the next stage of our expansion to a second store in a nearby city. If interested in learning more, drop a line to email@example.com .
What is your biggest source of inspiration?
I always try to make my wife proud.
What do you like to do for fun?
Spend time with friends and family, playing board games, shoot hoops, travel to new cities to explore the F&B scenes.
Favorite Local Spots:
- Restaurant: The Kitchen Step
- Coffee Shop: Prato
- Place to Shop: Kanibal
- Bar: Wurst Bar
- Outdoor Spot: Liberty State Park
- Honorable Mention: Shout out to See Spot Rescued and K9dergarten for giving us Buddy 3 years ago!
Go check out Ghost Truck Kitchen today!Instagram: @hellogtk
356 Varick Street
Jersey City, NJ