Chameleon Concessions Inc. CEO Mark Palm has outfitted more than 50 food trucks now doing business in Minnesota and other parts of the United States.
Palm’s Plymouth-based business converts trucks old and new into mobile kitchens. He either buys or fabricates the refrigerators, exhaust hoods, stove tops and other parts needed for mobile cooking.
His family has been in the restaurant equipment business as Palm Bros. since 1910. About 12 years ago, he went mobile with hot dog carts and concession trailers. He seized on the food truck industry as the industry grew, sending his first food truck, Simply Steve’s, into the wild in 2010.
He’s worked on some pretty outrageous trucks since, including Andrew Zimmern’s AZ Canteen (launched in 2012; read an interview with one of the owners published today) and Japanese hibachi truck Hibachi Daruma. One of his trucks satisfies a different kind of appetite: Minneapolis truck Pie Essentials, which sells sex toys and lingerie, not pastries.
The public rarely knows his involvement with their favorite food trucks, but Palm said it’s rewarding enough to sees trucks he’s outfitted get attention.
“Knowing that you built that from its dirty stage to cleaning (it), scrubbing it, taking it apart, making parts of it look new and then bringing it to Pixelwerx and putting the graphics on is fun,” Palm said. (Learn more about Pixelwerx and how they help food trucks entice eaters here.)
Palm wants to expand his business by starting Chameleon Commissary, a Minneapolis commercial kitchen where trucks could prepare and cook food before they hit the streets.
Each food truck owner would have his or own station with all the cooking essentials – a stove, oven and a flat top – and shared access to larger appliances. He would pool money from food trucks to buy everyday supplies like soda or gloves at lower prices than if the food trucks bought them individually.
By combining the commissary business with his existing truck outfitting work, Palm could offer new food truck owners an easier start. It’s just an idea for now, but already 20 food trucks are on board, Palm said.