The exterior of Tim Cullenen’s truck Timmy’s Meltdown is plastered with politically tinged memes and off-color photos. His staff wears T-shirts that read “Anarchy isn’t pretty.” In the food truck world, Tim has found a career that suits his eccentric personality.
Tim was an Ohio native living in Vermont when he suddenly found himself “unemployed and unemployable.” He kept driving by a house with trailer out front and a guy who sold grilled cheese.
“At first I thought ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’” he says, “but the more I drove by, the more it started making sense. I needed to create a job for myself.”
He joined forces with a childhood friend, John Whittington, to create the menu and branding for a grilled cheese-centric food truck. In the process, Tim has enjoyed the feeling of creating something that’s his own.
“It’s pretty fast and loose. Working on the truck, I can bullshit with people, which I like to do,” he says. “It’s a good fit for me because I can be my own boss. And I don’t have to play nice unless I want to.”
Plus, being your own boss means you get to set your own hours. And for Tim, that has meant avoiding the late-night shifts that many other food trucks favor.
“We do have a couple of microbreweries that we go to in the evenings, and we do reasonably well. But I have totally avoided doing the late-night bar scene for a couple of different reasons,” he explains. “For one, if I’m going to be up until 2 in the morning I’m going to the one drinking. And I generally don’t want to be up that late anymore.”
As Timmy’s Meltdown strides into its third year in business, Tim is excited that the truck is steadily getting more bookings, landing regular lunchtime gigs and scheduling out as far as through the end of summer. He enjoys the consistency and the stability, although he generally does prefer not to return to a location more than once a month.
“I like doing once a month, and only once a month, so people don’t get tired of us,” he explains.
And despite the truck’s anarchic leanings, Tim has found that his brand appeals to the younger set.
“I think our food, our menu and our price point make us very family-friendly, and as a result of that we’ve been fortunate to do some elementary school functions, library events, stuff like that,” he explains. “Those are nice little extras, not necessarily huge volume of money, but kind of some icing on the cake.”
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