UB will not allow private vendors outside The Commons
Alum wants to bring food truck to UB
Every morning, Buffalonians can smell the fresh burgers around the corner when Ayoub "Mike" Abboud pulls up in his black and red painted truck. He settles in and prepares for the rush of business park employees on their lunch break.
He opens the window and his food truck, Knight Slider, is ready for business.
Food served from a truck may not sound tempting to some, but Morgan Bresky, a senior exercise science major, said Knight Slider is a great addition to Main Street cuisine.
"I love how the burgers are not plain," Bresky said. "Instead, each of them is very unique with many different types of toppings and sauces."
Abboud, a UB alum, grew up in the kitchen. While at UB, he didn't have a lot of money so he wants to "give students a healthy and absolutely affordable option."
With prices from $2.50 to $4, Abboud feels it would be a poor college student's dream. His fresh, locally grown ingredients are healthy options for students, too. However, he said Campus Dining and Shops, University Police, Student Life and Student Affairs will not allow Knight Slider on campus.
"Campus Dining and Shops has exclusive rights to provide food service at UB," said Director of Student Life Tom Tiberi. "The only exception to this is the UB Commons, which is privately operated."
Abboud thinks he would be a good vendor at UB because of his uncommon recipes. His menu would not compete with established businesses on campus.
The recipes are entirely original, according to Abboud, a former UB political science major.
In keeping with the fun and friendly service, the food truck's name has a comical background. Knight Slider is derived from Knight Rider, the '80s TV show that featured David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight, a modern-day knight fighting crime with his artificially intelligent car, Kitt. Most of the food truck's dishes have names that reference the show: "the Classic Slider," "the Kitt" and "the Hoff."
The names aren't the only thing unique about Abboud's dishes. Knight Slider doesn't serve everyday street food. The "Eggsplostion Slider" is a beef patty topped with sharp cheddar cheese, shredded wild bacon and fried quail eggs that he buys locally. His "Hoff Slider" is a beef patty topped with sharp cheddar cheese, carmelized onions, fried French onions and homemade chipotle sauce.
As the second oldest of nine children, Abboud helped his mom cook for as long as he could remember. At age 13, he began working in a New York City restaurant and learned how to cook from older employees.
After he left UB and returned to New York City to take care of his family for personal reasons, Abboud planned on opening a restaurant but found food trucks were a new trend in Western New York. In less than a year, he partnered with Remi Qarmout - who was trained at Johnson & Wales Culinary School in Florida - and opened the ninth official food truck in Buffalo.
Everything is fresh and made-to-order. The ingredients come from the North Tonawanda Farmer's Market and Gino's Bakery on Hertel Avenue.
"It's healthier, and it's a way to give support from one local business to another," Abboud said.
According to Ben Tsujimoto, a Buffalo-based food blogger, the business also gives back to the community by donating its leftovers each day to St. John's Grace Episcopal Church, where its commissary is also located. A priest at the church makes the pita bread for Knight Slider's falafel dish, the "12 O'Clock Slider."
Abboud wants to stay in the city proper during lunch hour and come to campus mainly for special events, like concerts and the speaker series.
For now, Knight Slider operates in Buffalo - most notably in the downtown and Main Street areas - which Abboud believes is perfect for the bar crowd. Thursday through Saturday night, he serves Main Street by South Campus.
"We usually have a line outside and students rave about it," Abboud said. "They all mention we should be on campus and that the truck is a great idea. I believe the students are welcoming of it and actually kind of prefer it."
Knight Slider's Twitter and Facebook accounts are covered in patrons' praises and questions of where they can find the food truck next.
"By far the best burgers in Buffalo," a Twitter user named Greg (@Affliction716) tweeted. Greg said his wife could even agree with him on that one.
For Abboud, that's the best part of the business.
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