NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The original Mr. C's Grease Truck, which called College Avenue home for nearly three decades, is now for sale by its owner.
"Beautiful workable food truck," begins an advertisement for the truck posted on the Central New Jersey Craigslist page, which touts features like, "Built in grill and cheese melt."
Mohamed Garaibeh, the owner of the 1988 White Ford Truck, known as "Mr. C's: Home of the Fat Sandwiches" is asking for $40,000 to part with it. Garaibeh said that there have been a number of people interested in the truck, but that none of them are likely to follow through with a purchase.
The "grease trucks" are one of the most well-known traditions in New Brunswick, known for their high-cholesterol, high-calorie, deep-fried, gut-busting sandwiches like the "Fat Cat," the "Fat Darrel," and the "Fat Beach."
Like several of the other truck owners, he found it too hard to stay in business after the university implemented new rules and kicked the trucks out of the parking lot that had become their permanent home.
The trucks moved from their longtime home on August 15, 2013, making way an enormous 16-story dormitory and retail complex, slated for completion in August 2016.
After being relocated to a dead-end block of Senior Street, Garaibeh said an oil spill brought an untimely end to his tenuous arrangement with Rutgers.
"Oil [spilled] on the street and they told me you cannot operate anymore on Rutgers property," said Garaibeh. "They terminated our license, they screwed us big time."
Business for the remaining grease trucks had been slow since their relocation.
“Since the move, we have seen a 70 percent decrease in sales. The last eight years, business was from outside of the Rutgers community, 30 percent from the students,” Sam Habib, owner of Just Delicious, told The Daily Targum back in November 2013.
RU Hungry purchased their own catering van in late 2013, and still utilize the spot on Senior Street by the Alexander Library.
Rutgers also introduced its own food truck, known as the Knight Wagon. It has an advantage over its competitors in New Brunswick: It accepts university "meal swipes," allowing students to use their meal plans, something that grease truck owners said they were simply unable to compete against.
"We try, but they don’t want to give us [meal swipes]," Garaibeh said.
The construction that pushed out the trucks is part of the auspicious College Avenue Redevelopment Initiative, which includes several new buildings on the campuses of Rutgers and the New Brunswick Theological Seminary.
But redevelopment plans were just one of a variety of reasons Rutgers officials cited for why the grease trucks had to be moved.
University officials stated that the grease trucks had a monopoly on an important business and did not have enough diversity in terms of their offerings, adding that a roasted corn truck and a Korean food truck had unsuccessfully requested those spaces.
Rutgers officials complained that the previous arrangement disproportionately favored the truck owners, adding that the $62,000 collected in rent from the grease trucks was outdone by the annual $90,000 the university paid for electricity, security and grease collection, as well as the $5,600 a year to power wash Lot 8.
"As a public university, we shouldn't be subsidizing [the trucks]," Jack Molenaar, director of Rutgers transportation services, told The Star-Ledger. "We want to break even."
School officials also took issue with the fact several of the trucks sold products made by Coca-Cola and other competitors of Pepsi, violating Rutgers' exclusive on-campus sales agreement with Pepsi.
Ultimately the trucks operators were informed on July 12th that they had to vacate the Lot 8 site by August 15th, constituting roughly only a month's notice. Their attorney, George Gussis, maintained that they operators were supposed to have been given a notice of at least 3 months.
"They're trying to get rid of the grease trucks," Gussis told New Brunswick Today at the time, blaming what he called "the Big 10 mentality."
New agreements with the trucks required their operators to abide by introduced a slew of regulations, including:
- A $1,000 permit application fee
- That the trucks vacate the premises between 3 am and 6 am
- A maximum vehicle length of 26 feet
- Vehicles must have electric generator, water, wastewater storage and garbage disposal
- A ban on disposal of grease anywhere on Rutgers property
- Items with glass containers cannot be sold after 11 pm each night
City officials maintained as recently as the summer of 2012 that the grease trucks would not be moved.
"Contrary to what was in the Star-Ledger this afternoon, this is not putting the 'grease trucks' off of this lot. It is actually an opportunity to keep the grease trucks on this lot," Planning Director Glenn Patterson said at a July 2012 planning board meeting.
"But it's the intention of Rutgers, Devco to try to keep them there on that site, see if we can work that out, because we all think they are one of the things that people think about when people think about New Brunswick and Rutgers, you think about 'grease trucks," he added.
Their removal from the university parking lot in 2013 was far from their first brush with relocation.
In 1992, the New Brunswick City Council passed a series of ordinances that prohibited the trucks from operating along College Avenue.
Before that time, the famous trucks been operating along the streets and sidewalks of New Brunswick since the 1960's.
But the trucks, of which there were nine back then, were able to negotiate a deal with Rutgers that established a "food court" in the Rutgers parking lot at College Avenue and Hamilton Street.
Over the years, the trucks became a well-known destination that attracted visitors from far and wide, and earned recognition from national magazines and television shows.
Garaibeh said that a newer version of the "Mr. C's" truck will continue operations under owner Samir Alkilani.
Anyone interested in purchasing the old Mr. C's truck would be able to reach him at 732-995-9612, or email him at [email protected]