Inspired by the drive and creativity of local businesses within our community, we've decided to start a new series solely dedicated to entrepreneurs. #OperationEntrepreNATION will explore everything from the inspiration behind each business to the lessons learned along the way. In the first installment of our series, we got the chance to learn a little about Joe Ciancimino, Co-Owner of Venti Italian Specialties — a family-run food truck based in Jersey City, NJ.
It all started with Joe's grandparents, local farmers who immigrated from Italy to the United States. They would always come home with an exceptional amount of food to cook for the entire family. Joe, his younger brother Nick, and their cousins, all became inspired by the authentic Italian meals they had growing up. Their curiosity pushed them to learn how to cook and to make certain specialty foods, like wine and fresh cheese, using techniques like canning and pickling at home.
Joe's family lived on separate floors of a three-story home, so his grandma had her own unique way of signaling to everyone that, "dinner's ready!". She took her kitchen knife and hit the blade against the radiator pipes, nice and loud. Everyone on the first and second floor knew what that meant, and gathered upstairs for a homemade, family-style meal together. Experiences like these are what inspired Joe and Nick to work in restaurants, pizzerias, and deli's all around Bayonne, NJ as teenagers.
Joe had recently left the aerospace industry after 20 years and Nick found himself at a crossroads in between jobs. So the brother duo came up with the idea of starting a food truck - much more cost-effective than opening a brick-and-mortar business — which eventually became Venti Italian Specialties food truck, right here in Jersey City.
"We figured, let's give it a shot," said Joe Ciancimino, former manufacturing professional and entrepreneur. "- if we can get people to like our food and use the truck to make a little money, and use it as a marketing tool... maybe in a couple years we'll be able to open a Brick and mortar and have both things operating simultaneously."
As a three-time entrepreneur, Joe offers the following advice for new business owners: "If you're not willing to work, in the true sense of the word,...and sacrifice some of the comforts in life — parties, video games, going out drinking with your friends — then your business is going to suffer. But a lot of people don't understand that, I feel, and they get into a business and aren't prepared for the amount of work and sacrifice that is required in order to make it successful."
To help the food truck stand out and attract customers passing by, Joe and Nick hired Loud Mouth Wraps (a division of Jungle Communications Inc.) to create a vehicle wrap with an eye-catching design. "Sam and the whole team are great to work with," said Joe. "We're super happy with the truck. It came out great. We've been getting tons of compliments during service so that's a win."
Venti Italian Specialities serves a variety of homemade hot and cold sandwiches Monday through Friday, at Exchange Place on Hudson and Grand, right near the 9/11 Memorial in Jersey City, NJ. The brothers will also occasionally prepare two or three dinners during the week on Columbus Avenue near the Base Fitness gym.
Check out the Venti Italian Specialties food truck:
(We Make the Best Dark Roast on the Planet!)