Phoenix is home to a wide array of food trucks; these are their stories. To read the last installment of the Phoenix Food Trucks series, click here.
Driving a small, yellow convertible painted with smiling strawberries may seem strange to some, but for Maryanne Gille, it’s a way of publicizing her new business.
The convertible pulls a red-and-yellow aluminum trailer that hits the streets of Phoenix to serve an American classic — fruit dipped in chocolate.
Gille proudly shows off her business, Stick-A-Berry, at the Phoenix Public Market. Stick-A-Berry opened on Sept. 8, but Gille started developing the business in June.
Stick-A-Berry’s menu consists of three choices of fruit — five strawberries, a banana or a pineapple wedge — served on a stick and dipped in chocolate for $5.50. Customers can choose from milk, dark or white chocolate. Toppings include nuts, coconut and sprinkles and cost an additional 50 cents.
Stick-A-Berry’s best-seller has been chocolate-covered strawberries. Toppings haven’t been as popular, but the fruit concoctions themselves have been a hit for families, especially kids.
The idea for this concept came as “a lightbulb over the head,” Gille said. She wanted something that was different from what everyone else was doing.
Gille previously worked in booths selling popcorn and decided that fruit dipped in chocolate was a better concept.
“Everybody’s doing popcorn. This is healthy and different,” Gille said.
She added that she needed to work in a more advanced setting where she could sell at bigger events, so she switched from a booth to a truck for a clean environment with electricity.
Downtown Phoenix was the perfect spot for Stick-A-Berry to attract customers, Gille said.
“It is unique, healthy, and appeals to most people. It’s the decadent part to take care of a sweet tooth,” Gille said.
Selling downtown became a community experience for Gille.
“People help each other, and no one is here for themselves. I think it’s the whole farmers-market mentality,” Gille said.
Gille also joined the Phoenix Street Food Coalition, a group of specialty-food vendors that work to promote street food in the Phoenix metro area.
Stick-A-Berry’s only employee, Andrew McLemore, said people have been responding well to the food truck’s concept.
“It’s outside the box from what is here,” McLemore said, referring to the other trucks and vendors.
Stick-A-Berry’s product is also a crowd-pleaser.
“Who doesn’t love chocolate?” McLemore said.
One difficulty for Gille is deciding how much fruit to buy for each event, but the hardest part of operating and owning a business is bringing everything together.
“I understand how long it’s going to take and what to do,” Gille said. “This is not a hobby; this is a business.”
Gille is no stranger to the business world, having worked at nine businesses prior to Stick-A-Berry. She said she has worked for herself since beginning her career at age 19.
In the future, Gille hopes to expand her business by adding more trailers. She also would like to have a showcase in the Memorial Union building at ASU’s Tempe campus.
“This business is organic. It’s growing,” Gille said. “I will do this until I can get in other shows.”
Gille’s goal in creating the trailer was to draw customers.
“The appearance of the truck makes me happy because of the smiley faces, and it makes me want to eat chocolate,” customer Gretchen Burnton said after ordering a stick of chocolate-dipped strawberries.
The trailer also shows Gille’s character and personality.
“I think Maryanne has really struck a great idea,” said Dana Dumas, owner of SugarJam Cookies. “The Stick-A-Berry truck is an eye-catcher that brings a smile to your face and a yummy treat for all to enjoy. The cheerfulness of the truck represents Maryanne’s jovial personality.
“She is really easy to get along with and is dedicated to making this business work,” he added.
Gille has poured time, money and hard work into her business to make it as good as possible. Her efforts reflect her passion for the job.
“This is not where I’m going to get rich, but it’s what I like to do,” she said.
Contact the reporter at Dana.Demarco@asu.edu