Today we’d like to introduce you to Catherine and Cara DeLalla.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was raised in front of a stove. Next to my mother in the kitchen, since I was 2 years old. I have always been fascinated with food and how it makes me feel when I eat a really great meal. We are also avid travelers. No matter where you go in the world, there’s always a street food element. In college, I became obsessed with the idea of starting a food truck. At the time, food trucks were new in Atlanta. Resources on the how-to of starting a food truck were scarce.
My dream took a backseat for a few years. After I graduated, my mother and I became real estate partners. I enjoyed what I was doing, but I still longed to pursue my dream of owning a mobile food business. My mother and her family had restaurants throughout her life, so food service was something she understood. One day, we were just standing around in the kitchen and she asked, “what if we put a meatball inside of a round bread roll?” It was genius! Thus, Meatballerz was born.
We felt like Atlanta was in need of a good place to get a homemade meatball sandwich. It became our goal to make people fall in love with the meatball again. Each meatball is hand rolled, using only the highest quality ingredients including locally sourced butcher meat, fresh herbs, fine Italian cheeses, and custom baked bread prepared exclusively for Meatballerz. We use an age-old Italian recipe passed down from generation to generation that remains true to the old world method of meatball making.
Instead of recreating the meatball, we decided to improve the way you eat it. Hence, the ball-in-a-hole concept. A fresh baked Italian boule is cut to create a lid on the top and stuffed with a giant meatball. It is then topped with their signature Italian red gravy and shredded mozzarella cheese and baked to crispy perfection. Say goodbye to messy, soggy, meatball sandwiches. The unique design of the ball-in-a-hole makes this meatball sandwich easy to eat unlike the meatball subs of the past.
Fast forward, 2.7 years and we are still pumping out 5 star rated meatballs. We have outlasted all of our predecessors in Atlanta and that feels good. There was no shortage of struggles. We bought a lemon of a truck that broke down over 40 times and spent at least 125 days on the back of a tow truck. We would go out and sell 2 sandwiches. We would ask ourselves daily if we had made the wrong choice. Our fans have assured us that we did not make the wrong decision. Now we sell 100 sandwiches a day.
We look out of our window and see a long line of people patiently waiting to get their hands on our ballz. Now we know, there’s no giving up. The people love us too much and we don’t want to let them down.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Owning a food truck has not been a smooth road. There’s been many struggles along the way. My mother and I didn’t know much about cars. We saw something cute and put our trust in a complete stranger. We suffered for it. Vinny (our truck) is a lemon. He has broken down over 50 times. Spent over 100 days on the back of a tow truck. We have dealt with 2 blown engines, a busted radiator, a rebuilt transmission that still doesn’t work right, and more.
A couple of weeks ago, the rear tire detached from the truck while driving. Luckily, no one was hurt. In addition to the challenges we’ve faced with our truck, there’s the issue of picking the right events. You learn which locations do well and which ones don’t but that takes time and experience. In the beginning, you are optimistic and you trust promoters. Take everyone for their word. Then you learn, a person’s word can’t always be taken at face value.
We towed to an event once, because we wanted to fulfill our obligation. We spent 5 hours at the event and did $75 in sales. A valuable lesson was learned that day. You have to know when to cut your losses even if that means upsetting a promoter. We do things a lot differently now but we have definitely made a lot of mistakes along the way.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Meatballerz Food Truck – what should we know?
At Meatballerz, we specialize in Italian style street food with a focus on meatballs. My mother is the Executive Chef and I am the one who runs the truck. She is responsible for food quality, inventory management, and recipe creation. I make the schedule, handle bookings, and make sure the truck stays clean and organized. We handle the financials together because it takes a lot of time.
We are most known for our meatball Sammy. It’s a meatball sandwich made with a giant meatball stuffed inside of a bread bowl. It’s compact, easy to eat, and super tasty. It can hold up while you are standing or walking around. How many meatball sandwiches can you say that about?
As a company, we are most proud of the quality of our product. It truly set us apart from the pack. Many places will tell you they use fresh ingredients but we actually do. Hours of prep time go into our meatballs and sauce. We get our meat from a local butcher, we get our rolls custom baked, and we get our fresh herbs from the farmers market. Everything is hand chopped and mixed with love.
When we encounter people who say they don’t like meatballs or marinara sauce, we take it as a challenge. We have converted hundreds of people who never enjoyed Italian food before they had Meatballerz. They taste the difference in our food and they keep coming back for it. Even our sauce is one of a kind. Robust and full of flavor. That’s what makes us different possibly even the best.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Our determination has been most important to our success. Many people thought we would fail. Others told us to give up. It’s hard to believe we are still here despite the numerous trials and tribulations. That’s because we are determined to be successful. We believe in ourselves and in the food.
- Meatball Sandwich $9-10
- Pizzas $7-11
- Pasta Bowls $11
- Sides $3-5
- Website: www.meatballerzat.com
- Phone: 4048616088
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: meatballerzatl
- Facebook: meatballerzatl
- Twitter: meatballerzatl
- Yelp: Meatballerz Food Truck