American Meltdown: How To Stay in Business When the Wheels Fall Off

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Brick-and-mortar businesses have their own challenges, but with a food truck, you’re not only dependent on the kitchen functioning, but you need the vehicle to work, too. The wheels fell off of popular grilled cheese food truck American Meltdown’s business — literally and figuratively — leaving the truck stranded on its way to an event in Raleigh, North Carolina last week.

(Photo Credits: American Meltdown Facebook)

The business has experienced a rough start to the busy food truck season this year, according to owner Paul Inserra, who wrote about his business’s trials and tribulations on the American Meltdown Facebook page. “By Thursday, we had already had 2 strong employee’s aboard the food truck hand in their 2 weeks notice (at the same time), 1 of which is in a lead position in the middle of food truck busy season,” he started his story.

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“Moments later, we got a phone call from our second truck captain letting us know the wheels on the truck fell off while driving on Capital Blvd. in Raleigh,” he wrote.

Bad alternator? Busted starter? Leaking water pump? All inconvenient situations, but none of them are as potentially catastrophic as having the wheels fall of.

“It must have been pretty terrifying to drive a 15,000lbs. vehicle and see 2 wheels flying off in the rear view mirror…especially when it is only a few days before your wedding day,” wrote¬†Inserra.

The inventory of issues were lengthy. “Thankfully, No one was hurt,” wrote Inserra. “However, the truck was in bad shape, right before a huge weekend of events; no wheels, sheared off studs and broken bolts (that hold the wheels in place), broken rims..potentially a broken rear axle from all the dragging…and who knows what else.”

Catastrophe can bring out the most innovative solutions, though. “The wheel situation was fixed in the last minute on Friday,” the Facebook post reads. “There are a ton of reasons, we should not have been able to get the parts we needed, but we did.”

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Piedmont Truck Tires in Raleigh was the first to come through on Friday morning. “These guys were the first stop in Raleigh on Friday morning. When they could not get the parts in time, they helped me troubleshoot a few other ideas,” writes Inserra, and the business stayed open late Friday night to continue helping.

The shop couldn’t come up with an in-house solution, but its manager had an ace in the hole: His buddy “Stoner.”

“His name matched the sound of his voice on the other end of the phone,” writes Inserra, but regardless, Stoner was the man. He came up with an innovative solution that got the truck back on the road late Friday night. “I owe you more than a hug,” Inserra wrote to Stoner.

Happy ending, right? Hold your horses:

“Saturday morning, we discovered a ripped up propane line that feeds all our cooking equipment aboard the truck. Repairing that on a Saturday just seemed highly unlikely,” the post continues.

The importance of getting the truck up, running and cooking was especially punctuated by a potentially busy Saturday night, and a Food Truck Rodeo scheduled for Sunday.

“Miraculously, and through a lot of persistence and a ton of help from other small business owners, we were able to operate by Saturday night,” Inserra writes. Nick Johnson of the Cast Iron Group — a small conglomerate of several food businesses in the city — provided the name of Chris Worrell from R&C Services Heating and Cooling, who took time out of his Saturday to completely rebuild the propane lines in the truck. “He was taking care of his son and finishing up a report for a job 15x my size in his office,” Inserra wrote. “This guy’s talent matches his personality and I am glad I have him in my food truck utility belt.”

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Competing food trucks even got in on the effort: Becky at the pizza truck Pie Pushers provided contact information. Oren at Soomsoom Pita Pockets was on the scene at 6:30 am to help out.

Inserra called out Ashley Christensen, who provided a much needed dose of esprit d’corps “I do not even know if you knew what it took us to get to the event Saturday night, but having you come and grab eats for your crew, posting us up on your Instagram feed, and calling us badasses publicly was the morale boost we all needed after a rough couple days,” he wrote.

His biggest thanks went out to his wife Alycia and his staff: “Our staff; dear lawd!!! Specifically, Carly Hall and Jacob Katsikis. You two are incredible. What we pulled off this weekend, on this food truck, goes down in the record books. Brian, your enthusiasm for helping me out at 6:15am Saturday morning is exceptional. You rock and I am glad to know you,” he wrote.

It’s a great story to see an old Grumman truck literally down for the count, up and running again in a matter of hours.

If you’re not hungry for grilled cheese now, you might be dead inside.


Craig Fitzgerald

Craig Fitzgerald

Writer, editor, lousy guitar player, dad. Content Marketing and Publication Manager at