What’s Up With the Food Trucks?

Author: Emma Koster

What’s Up With the Food Trucks?

Are you getting tired of the same old dining classics? Over Modern Market’s Farmer Salad or Smashburger’s burger? Maybe it’s time to venture outside of Duncan Student Center or Lafun to try out one of the newly contracted food trucks on Notre Dame’s campus.

The university has partnered with five food trucks – Junbuggies, Rulli’s, El Amigo Pepe, The REAL Grille and ParmaJacos. These trucks provide a variety of options to supplement ND’s pre-existing culinary staples. Junbuggies serves authentic Mexican food with a few American options. You can get your pizza fix from Rulli’s. El Amigo Pepe offers tacos, burritos and more. The REAL Grille brings classic American dishes like burgers and hot dogs to campus. And ParmaJacos is the “home of the Parmesan Taco.” 

The primary reason for bringing the food trucks to campus was to provide students with more options. You may have also noticed that many of the campus dining operations have changed their hours or have been saddled with longer lines than usual. “Obviously we’re not immune from the labor shortages that are happening everywhere and so we’re just trying to provide some relief to our ND staff members while providing more options to the students,” said Sandra Garcia, the director of retail dining at Notre Dame. 

The objective was to have a food truck for lunch and dinner outside each of the student centers. The scheduling, however, worked on a first-come, first-served basis in which these contracted food trucks could sign up for where they wanted to be located. Students have the ability to place orders, pay and check the status of their orders on Notre Dame’s Grubhub app.

Junbuggies can be found outside of Duncan Student Center almost every day. “I had my own trucking company and then the COVID effect really had to force us to shut down. We couldn’t compete with the large corporations. So one day I had an idea. I said, you know what? I’m going to buy a food truck, and I bought a food truck,” said Juan Leyva, the owner of Junbuggies. 

“The relationship has definitely worked well and is flourishing,” Leyva said about Junbuggies’ presence on campus. “Not the reason why we did it, but a nice byproduct is just engaging with these community partners that I think, too, are just kind of struggling,” Garcia said. 

This opportunity will be ending as September draws to a close, but the success of this initiative leaves campus dining and truck owners alike hopeful about the work they can do together in the future. Garcia says, “As of right now, we don’t have plans to continue that, but we’re always looking for student feedback and if that’s something the students really enjoy, we always want to try to be as flexible as possible.”