NORTH SMITHFIELD – Anthony Soly says he’s always found joy from cooking, but as an engineer by trade, his kitchen adventures were limited to little more than a hobby.
Now, thanks to a new business endeavor – and a change in direction – he finds that his disposition has become a lot more sunny.
“It’s probably the happiest I’ve been in years, and that means a lot,” Soly told NRI NOW this week.
Soly has opened Sunnyside on the Street, a food truck serving unique and traditional breakfast items, from egg sandwiches, to French toast “rolls” stuffed with strawberries and cream cheese.
His truck hit the road for the first time last week, and will be seen more often at festivals and events locally in the upcoming months.
“The feedback we got was phenomenal,” he said of the truck’s first outings.
Working out of Gastro Craft Meats in Woonsocket, Soly says he will serve a rotating menu of breakfast foods, with a focus on both locally-sourced ingredients and the expected breakfast fare.
“The menu we’re going to run plays on your traditional breakfast food items,” he said. “You’re getting quality products.”
Soly said he plans to keep between four to six of his original dishes on the truck at a time, with ingredients that can double to produce the basics. His family is helping out, with his wife and daughter serving up items such as his signature, “Heart Attack Home Fries,” from the distinct, bright-blue truck at locations from Providence, to their hometown of North Smithfield. He plans to have the truck “on the street,” Tuesday through Sunday, weather permitting.
Soly said he was kicking around a plan to open a food truck for years before life circumstances brought the project into focus.
After losing his father earlier this year, the Pawtucket native found himself stifled by stress from work, and generally dissatisfied.
“I was miserable,” he said. “It got to the point where my wife just said, ‘What do you want to do?’ My answer was: I want to cook.”
Soly left his job in late August, giving the plan to launch Sunnyside his full-time attention.
“I finally got sick of corporate America and said, ‘I want to do something that I want to do,’ and here we are,” he said.
The plan took time. From finding a vehicle that could accommodate his vision, to learning the licensing rules, Soly began the effort in spring with hopes to open in time for events the following year.
“Research was a big part of it,” he said. “One thing that’s been great about getting into this is talking to all of the other food truck owners.”
Finding the right truck took six months.
“It wasn’t the newest. It wasn’t the fanciest,” Soly said of the vehicle that he’s now made his own. “It was ready to serve the foods I wanted to serve.”
Licensing was another obstacle, with permits required on both the state and town level.
“Even though I’ve cooked my whole life, I was very nervous when I got into this,” Soly said. “I thought the tough thing would be the regulation part of it. That’s been seamless. I’m actually ahead of schedule.”
The business offers catering at private events and aims to serve alternatives for heath-conscious customers, such as avocado in place of toast. Soly himself has lost 40 pounds in recent months on the Keto diet, which made planning the menu something of a challenge.
“I can’t test a lot of it,” he said. “My neighbors have been eating pretty good lately.”
It was a change in direction for the food truck operator with the goal of reclaiming his happiness.
And so far, Soly says, it’s working.
“I’ve decided that I’m enjoying life and I’m having fun,” he said. “It’s not about money anymore. It’s about me being happy and being able to do what I want to do.”
Soly is still working on the website for Sunnyside, which eventually will feature regular updates on his menu and location.
For now, you can follow his progress, and learn where to get a taste of his menu items on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SunnySideRI/.