Gia Sempronio, chef-proprietor of Phat Salads and Wraps, grew up in a small town at the base of Mt. Shasta, and moved to Napa in 1988. Since coming to Napa, Sempronio has worked as fitness trainer, P.E. teacher, bartender and server. And then, while driving a limo and spending a lot of time waiting for clients, she came up with the concept of a healthy food truck.
Sempronio went to the for guidance and assistance, took business and marketing classes, and began to look for a truck.
You can usually find Sempronio’s truck parked Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in front of . On Tuesdays, she serves lunch at from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. She also rolls into events and festivals around the area.
And starting season she’ll be at the . A great advantage is that you can actually call your order in!
serves salads, tossed or in a tortilla wrap, and soup.
Julie: Tell me about “Phat.”
Gia: It stands for “Pretty-Healthy-and-Tasty.” If you ask for it “Phat,” you’ll get extra chicken or steak.
Julie: How much research did you initially do on food trucks?
Gia: None! When I first opened, there were only taco trucks in town. I love Mexican food, but my goal was to offer a healthier alternative. I did, however, spend two years researching the “idea,” regarding marketing, menu, target market, location, etc.
Julie: It sounds like it was challenging to find the right truck.
Gia: Whew! I spent about eight months looking online and in trade magazines, which got me nowhere. After many referrals, I wound up in L.A., where I had my truck custom designed to fit the criteria for the health department, as well as my menu. I flew down to L.A. twice, left a deposit, and three months later the truck was delivered to my front door.
Julie: Do you have a lot of repeat customers?
Gia: Tons! I have customers that come to the truck two to three times a week.
Julie: How many people work for you?
Gia: I’m generally a “one-woman show.” I do, however, have a few people helping me work the counter and doing prep. And I have help with events and festivals.
Julie: How often do you change your menu?
Gia: Never! I share the same philosophy as : Keep It Simple. I do rotate different soup choices throughout the winter months.
Julie: Where do you source your ingredients?
Gia: Some locally, but being a small business, I do most of my shopping at good old Costco.
Julie: Why do you think the food truck concept has taken off?
Gia: The truck obviously has lower overhead than a freestanding restaurant. This is funny to me, as my goal is to take the concept of my menu and open a fast food restaurant and franchise.
Julie: Where do you like to go when you want to be “bad” (foodwise)?
Gia: Fast food = In-N-Out Burger, hands down.
Julie: I understand you were a beauty queen. That must have been a trip.
Gia: Oh, dear! Yes, when I was eighteen years old, I was crowned “Miss McCloud.” I went on to run for Miss Siskiyou County. That was the end of my pageant career.