We asked this month's spotlight a few questions. Below are her answers.
AR: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
DRK: My name is Danielle Rose Kringas and I live in Westchester County, N.Y., with my husband and two cats. I was born and raised in the area and love being close to New York City. I go to the city fairly often...there is nothing like it. I love to travel, but like most do not
get to do enough of it. I love music, I love seeing live shows, singing, and writing original
songs. I love learning about different cultures and would love to speak another language
fluently one day. I love food and trying new restaurants. I also love nutrition and wellness.
AR: Tell us about your career path. How did you get started? What were some of
your positions along the way?
DRK: After graduating from CUA in 2001 with a Bachelor of Music, my path strayed from music and I went into the beauty industry. I went to cosmetology school for esthetics (skin care) and makeup. After getting New York State Board certified, I worked as an esthetician and I freelanced as a makeup artist. I assisted with and styled a couple of national commercials, did bridal makeup, etc.
Over the next few years I worked in a couple different spas as an esthetician and makeup artist. I was the head esthetician at
one spa that I helped open. I developed and ran their skin care department. It was during this time that I started working
part-time at a Greek restaurant that had just opened down the street from my spa. It was owned by a family that I knew from
the town I grew up in (one whom is now my husband).
After working as an esthetician and makeup artist for a few years I longed for a job with benefits and a steady paycheck. I
found a job working for a makeup and skin care manufacturing company in Queens. I started in their sales department and
was quickly moved to new business development where I opened accounts and helped spas and salons develop their makeup
and skincare brand. I got to travel with this job, which was awesome, and I made some amazing friendships there.
After being there for two years, the commute from Westchester County to Queens started to wear on me. During this time I became seriously dating my now husband who was an owner at that Greek restaurant I told you about...Nikos Greek Taverna
in White Plains, N.Y. I decided to leave my job in Queens and work there with him and the family full time. It was a great
After I got married in 2010, my husband, George (an amazing cook), went to culinary school to hone his skills. Immediately
after he graduated we opened a new Greek restaurant with his brother (along with a few other partners) where my husband
was the executive chef. I worked the front of the house with my brother-in-law. It was a beautiful restaurant. We got a great
New York Times review (which is a pretty big deal). However, in 2012, after being there six months my husband and
brother-in-law decided to sell their shares to the remaining partners to go in a different direction.
AR: How did you get started with owning a food truck selling souvlaki?
DRK: When we left the restaurant in 2012, the idea for the food truck first came about. The food truck
trend had really been taking off around the country (though not so much in Westchester) and with my husband's background
and knowledge of Greek food we thought a Greek food truck would be perfect. The idea was to serve authentic, simple Greek
food with fresh ingredients and make it easily accessible and affordable to people. Souvlaki is basically meat on the stick and means mini skewers. It is very popular in Greece. It's like how Americans serve and eat hot dogs and hamburgers or how
there is a pizza shop on every corner. Only in Greece it's souvlaki. We want souvlaki to be as popular here as the hot dog is!
So the idea was to make souvlaki the main attraction served on the skewer or wrapped in pita the way they do in Greece. Of course there would be many other delicious items to choose from. There would be fresh Greek salads, hand cut fries,
vegetarian options such as hummus, falafel, and grape leaves. Of course there is also the ever popular gyro and baklava!
Along with seasonal and exciting specials...this truck would be like no other!
It wasn't until a year later in January 2013 that we decided to go for it. Once we decided to go for it, it took about six months
to open and we sold our first souvlaki in Yonkers, N.Y., in June 2013. Since then, we have sold many souvlakia (the plural of souvlaki), have catered private events, participated in festivals, and have met many wonderful, supportive people. We have
created the exact concept we thought of back in 2012 with a great, well rounded menu. We have a charcoal grill on the truck,
which adds to the authenticity and gives the souvlaki the most delicious flavor.
Not only has the souvlaki truck become reality but we are currently expanding and are looking to open a new restaurant based
off of the souvlaki truck concept. Stay tuned.
AR: Tell us about your position with The Souvlaki Truck in New York, N.Y.? What are your responsibilities?
DRK: I am the co-owner of The Souvlaki Truck. I am at the window taking orders, serving customers and expediting but I am known to jump on the fryer when needed :) I have to make sure everything is clean and presentable. With my husband, I keep track of inventory and help him prep. Whether it's cut potatoes, prep vegetables, etc.
AR: What is the best item on the menu?
DRK: I won't say there is a best menu item because they are all delicious, but two favorites are the pork pita (pork souvlaki wrapped in pita with red onion, tomato, Tzatziki, and a couple of hand-cut fries). The other favorite are the amazing hand-cut oregano fries. Best fries ever!
Two other favorites of mine that are not on the regular menu, but have been a special in the past: the Cretan avocado and feta
dip and tomato salad. Avocado and feta dip was created from the time we spent in Crete where we had something similar.
When we got back home it was recreated and reinterpreted by my husband. It's amazing. The tomato salad is the traditional salad of Greece called horaitiki salata. When my husband finds the sweetest, most delicious tomatoes this salad is
on the specials board. It consists of tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, red onion, feta cheese, oregano and salt. I am
AR: Have you always been a foodie?
DRK: I have always loved food but it wasn't until I started working in the restaurant industry and married a chef that my love
and appreciation of food really developed and deepened.
AR: From music to food truck -- how was that transition? Is music still part of your life?
DRK: After I left college, like I said earlier, my focus from music shifted and life started unfolding down a different path which
led me to the restaurant industry and eventually owning a food truck. It wasn't until a few years ago that I found my way
back to music. I started taking voice lessons again and more recently started writing and collaborating on original music.
It has been so fulfilling and exhilarating.
AR: What are some challenges you face daily in your job? What do you enjoy the most?
DRK: The challenges of owning a food truck are great. Every day is a challenge. The weather conditions. The extreme heat
and the extreme cold. You don't have resources that you would in a restaurant so you have to try to make sure to have
everything you need as there is no storage room. The physical demand is also great.
The thing I enjoy most is meeting new people and forming relationships with our customers. I also enjoy the energy of
working private events and festivals.
AR: What kind of staff do you have -- or is this a one-woman job?
DRK: The day-to-day of the truck is mostly my husband and myself. We do have a couple of part-time employees.
AR: What is a typical day at work like for you?
DRK: A typical day at work is I arrive [at the truck] around 11 or so. Before getting there I normally have to do things for the
truck, such as get change from the bank, fill propane, or whatever it is that particular day. My husband has already prepped
the food and moved the truck to the spot. When I get there the coals are hot and ready to go. Once I arrive I fill and organize everything to prepare for our first customer. Then it's just a matter of pumping out the orders during a busy lunch. At night after
the truck is closed I work at our family restaurant.
AR: What is the most interesting event or person that you have come across in your line of work?
DRK: A favorite event we did recently was hosting a holiday staff party for a well known and respected chef (and friend) in our area.
AR: When you are not working at The Souvlaki Truck, what do you like to do?
DRK: When I am not working I love to go see live music. It's probably my favorite thing to do. With my schedule I don't get to
do enough of it. I especially love supporting friends and people I know who are performing. I love to listen to music. I love to
sing. I love to write and collaborate on original music. I enjoy going out to eat. Nutrition and wellness totally excite me. I love spending time with family and friends, especially my two beautiful nieces. Most of all I love just being home with my
husband and two cats.
AR: How did Catholic University prepare you for your current career? Any specific courses that you took or experiences you had while a student?
DRK: My time at Catholic University was such a special time that I will never forget. It taught me about responsibility, independence, and resilience. Musically, I am drawing on what I learned at CUA now more than ever. Although, admittedly
music theory wasn't my favorite subject at the time, it was essential in helping me with my songwriting today.
AR: Were there any specific faculty members who mentored you?
DRK: I will never forget two faculty members in particular. Reenie Codelka and Jane Pesci-Townsend. Reenie mentored me
earlier in my CUA years and I formed a very close relationship with her. Jane mentored me through my last few years. Both women taught me so much. They believed in me and helped to build my confidence. Both women gave me two different perspectives on their approaches to music, singing, and performing. I like to think they helped me be well rounded.
Jane was instrumental in helping me through my last couple of years at CUA. She was there for me on a personal level when I was going through a really difficult time. She was a mentor and a friend. RIP Jane. You were a beautiful, talented, funny, and
fierce woman. I will never, ever forget you. Thank you for everything.
AR: Do you keep in touch with any faculty, friends, or classmates from CUA? If so, how? Who in particular?
DRK: I do keep in touch with many of my classmates from CUA. Social media definitely helps you stay connected. When we
can, I still get together with my roommates from CUA, Kelly Monaghan Riely, Lauren Tartaglia Guivas, and Gina Petruccelli Whitney. Being so close to New York City I have been able to meet up with various classmates who are in New York City over
the years and have even bumped in to a few on the street.
AR: What is one of your favorite memories of your time at Catholic University?
DRK: All of my favorite memories at CUA involve the wonderful friends I made. Football games were always fun. Exploring
D.C. together, our late night talks and bonding. One of my favorite memories was senior week... Having that time together
before graduating. I will never forget.
AR: Any additional information you would like to include?
DRK: Visit The Souvlaki Truck at 2481 Central Park Avenue in Yonkers, N.Y. Our schedule is:
Tues. 11-4 (Central Ave.)
5-8 (Yonkers Waterfront at Hudson Park)
To follow the adventures of The Souvlaki Truck please check out our website; like us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter
Parties and private events contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Also, follow me on Twitter for new, original songs and my musical, food, and daily adventures.