Unknown Story of WNY: 'Chef Felix' food truck

Chef Felix: Buffalo's First Food Truck

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Food trucks are a draw for many Western New Yorkers. 

However, few may know just how Buffalo's first food truck hit the streets decades ago.

2 On Your Side's Pete Gallivan shares the story of 'Chef Felix' for this Unknown Story of Western New York. 

Felix Coniglio first brainstormed the idea of a food truck in 1942 while on the USS Boston. He was serving in World War II. 

"He got the idea of, well, if I can make pizza on the water, then I can put four wheels on it and make it in the city," said Felix Coniglio Jr., Chef Felix's son. "So him and his brother, and his brother-in-law, my uncle Joe, my uncle Tony...they all got together and they put this truck together."

He added they bought it brand new from Mernom Chevrolet. 

"The first thing they did was put a grill on it, then two ovens...for a sink, they had a one bay sink...and just getting out of the war, they had Jerry cans for water," he said. 

The group then went about getting a restaurant mobile unit license and a license to hawk, peddle and vend merchandise. 

Once the paper work was complete, the pizza truck was ready to roll. 

Chef Felix and his team built a loyal customer base by initially giving out free pizza in the west side of Buffalo -- Felix's neighborhood. An ice cream truck, Charlie's Ice Cream Truck, was the only other business offering food on wheels at the time. However, Felix's truck had the added benefit of being able to make the food on board. 

Chef Felix's main stay soon became the Erie County Fair, where he had a 34 year run. 

This run ended in 1992 and has honored Chef Felix over the years. They put a picture of him standing in front of his truck in 1957 in the 175th fair book. They also followed that up this summer by including his photo in the new Fair Historical Building. 

Felix Jr. initially wanted to carry on his father's tradition 24 years ago, but other commitments got in the way. Now, however, he has made the time to continue what his father started. 

"Right now I could go on the street and operate, it has a 3-bay sink. It has cold water storage, waste water storage...(a) hot water tank...(and) a refrigerator," Felix said describing his own food truck. 

It of course also has two pizza ovens. 

Felix Jr. said he is hoping to restart his family's proud and tasty tradition sometime next year -- something Felix Jr.'s six kids have pushed him to do since Felix Senior passed away in 1992. 

"I had some engine problems, some carburator problems, some electrical problems...but that's all fixed and ready to go," Felix Jr. said. 

And he's ready to bring back the sounds, smells and tastes his father brought to the community decades ago. 


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment