“There wasn’t an Italian truck on the street when we started and when we realized we wanted to do another truck, we started thinking about wings,” co-owner Michelle Franke says. “The two go together because of the Italian heritage.”
The Little Italy truck started slinging meatball sliders, risotto balls and an open-faced Italian sausage sandwich in 2011. Franke was working for Ben Cerra Construction, her father’s home building company, when the downturn in the economy led her to think about starting a business of her own. She and her husband Jeff Franke, along with Lyle Frank and Steve Shore (who are also partners in Street Wings), decided to bring the Cerra family’s southern Italian recipes to a food truck concept. For the past three years, Franke has held down two full-time jobs.
“I build houses with my dad and then I get to cook in the kitchen with my mom [Marsha Cerrra],” Franke says. “My mom rolls every single meatball and cuts every single green pepper and onion that comes out of my kitchen.”
Street Wings, based out of Lee’s Summit, will serve boneless and regular chicken wings. The sauces will all be house-made. Franke is making Caribbean jerk, habanero and roasted garlic, parmesan garlic, jalapeno and pineapple, as well as a trio of barbecue sauces — regular, hot and sweet honey — which all have a brown sugar base. The wings will only be sauced or rubbed.
“We don’t think we’ll batter any of the wings because there’s so many people out there that are gluten-free and we don’t feel like they need the batter,” Franke says.
They’ll have a separate fryer for shrimp, as well as one for fried pies. Right now, they’re experimenting with chocolate ganache pudding and an apricot and Boulevard beer recipe for the seven-inch desserts. Street Wings will also have fries and tater tots, including a Buffalo tot featuring a Buffalo spice rub, sprinkled with bacon and topped with sour cream. And as for that Italian connection?
“The guy behind Frank’s hot sauce is Nick. And Theresa is his mom,” Franke says. “The story goes that he came home with his buddies one day and wanted something to eat. She owned a restaurant and all she had left was what was considered the scraps. She put the wings in the oven and the Buffalo wing was born. It wasn’t invented in Italy, but Italians still invented it.”
The Street Wings truck will debut at a new First Friday showcase being held in the parking lot of the Promise event space (1814 Oak) on April 4. Local artists will be joined by a half-dozen food trucks.[Images via Facebook: Street Wings & Little Italy]