The back story to Fresno’s newest food truck starts at a nail salon in Kansas, stops at a persimmon farm on the outskirts of Fresno and finally ends with an unusual combination of cuisines at the city’s most popular food truck event.
It’s an adventure that might make you say “WTF.”
WTF is also the business name. We can’t print what that acronym usually stands for, so it’s a good thing the owners of the business – technically a trailer – say it stands for something else: “Where’s the Food?”
The name was born out of frustration when Henry and Lida Wickman struggled to come up with a name for their business.
“I said WTF so many times,” he says. “We just thought it was funny. The acronym WTF is plastered all over the trailer, but it doesn’t stand for the obvious.”
A logo that looks like a red Google pinpoint marking a spot on a map helps answer the “Where’s the food?” question.
The food itself is a combination of Mexican and Asian cuisine. The truck is often at Gazebo Gardens food truck nights from 5-9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. (But like all food trucks, schedules change, so check their Facebook page to be sure.)
The menu includes the WTF beef skewers – meat that’s marinated in a pineapple-teriyaki sauce, grilled and served on sticks with jasmine rice and a “quick pickle” relish made from shredded cabbage and carrots.
You can also get the beef served over yaki soba noodles, which are about the same size as chow mein noodles. There is also a vegetarian version made with tofu that is flash fried, then grilled and served with yaki soba noodles and veggies.
But the dish that sold out recently is the asada fries: French fries loaded with chopped up beef, lots of cheese and jalapenos.
And then there’s the dish that’s neither Mexican nor Asian, the French toast served at Gazebo Gardens on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Imagine thick slices of Texas toast drenched in a sweet egg batter, dusted with powdered sugar and topped with strawberries and bananas.
Keep tabs on the WTF Facebook page to find out where they will be. This coming Sunday, May 22, it will be at Gazebo Gardens for Handmade Sunday, which features handmade items for sale and runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. WTF will be there starting at 10 a.m.
But what about that nail salon in Kansas and the persimmon farm?
That’s part of the circuitous route that led the Wickmans to start WTF. They were living in Wichita, Kansas, where they owned a nail salon for 13 years. Henry’s mother lives in Fresno, where she farms 20 acres of mostly persimmons and a few acres of jujubes – a golf ball-sized crunchy fruit pronounced “ju ju bee” (not to be confused with the candy).
They sold the salon and moved here two years ago to help her run the farm.
Only one problem: “I realized I really don’t like farming,” Wickman says.
That left them wondering what to do for a living and the food truck was the answer.
The creative name gets attention, but Wickman says some people – usually kids and older folks – don’t get it. He often sees customers mouthing the words for the most common abbreviation of WTF but not saying it aloud.
“When we drive around town with the trailer we get a lot of attention from it, and people taking pictures of it,” he says.
Sierra Vista Mall in Clovis will get the first Which Wich in the area, but not until September. The owners still have a lot of work to do on the space, which is an outbuilding on the western side of the mall.
The restaurant is known for its highly customizable sandwiches. Customers grab a brown paper bag with ingredients on it and mark off what they want (which includes some pretty interesting options, from a five meat sandwich to a vegetarian black bean patty and Cheez Whiz).
Owners Brian and Jessica Luternauer are close to finalizing another location in Fresno and want to open even more in the Valley.