Smaller than a food truck, Chattanooga’s Go Gyro Go operates out of a 6- by 7-foot wagon

Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Paco Fotiadis exits his food wagon, parked at his home in East Ridge.
Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Paco Fotiadis exits his food wagon, parked at his home in East Ridge.

In any gathering of food trucks, Go Gyro Go may not be the biggest in the roundup, but it's sure to draw attention.

It's partly the smell of Greek food perfuming the air around it, partly its robin's egg blue paint scheme and the blue-domed buildings of a seaside Greek village on one side and merged American and Greek flags on the other (visible when the takeout window is closed).

Mostly it grabs attention because of its size. In the world of food trucks, where space is always at a premium, Go Gyro Go goes big by going small.

"It's not a food 'truck,'" says owner Paco Fotiadis of East Ridge. "It's a wagon."

The distinction is based on the fact that, unlike a truck, the wagon isn't drivable. Fotiadis pulls it behind a Chevrolet Silverado 3500 dually pickup that offers additional storage space when he travels to jobs.

Not that the wagon isn't a marvel of efficiency. From the outside, its dimensions are 8 feet high, 6 feet wide and 7 feet long. Inside it seems even smaller, with a center aisle flanked by stainless-steel countertops and built-in mini appliances. If something's not in reach, it takes only a step or two to make it so.

On one side are a three-compartment sink, which usually is covered and used as a work space, and a separate sink for employees to wash their hands. On the opposite side is the pop-up window where orders are taken, with countertop space below for the exchange of food and money. There's a built-in cash drawer beneath the countertop and a bit more shelf storage. To the right is a microwave for anything that needs a quick zap of heat above a mini refrigerator/freezer.

At the end of the trailer, opposite the door, is another mini fridge and an air conditioner tucked away for summer. Two power generators ride outside near the trailer hitch.

As tight as the quarters are, Fotiadis says this wagon, which he purchased in 2021, is bigger than his previous model, which was small enough to sit on a corner sidewalk in downtown Chattanooga and not impede foot traffic.

The new version was especially welcomed by one of his workers. This one has plenty of headroom, unlike the former wagon, which had 5 feet, 8 inches of headroom for an employee who is 6-foot-2.

"He used to have to sit on a stool and take the money," says Fotiadis. "He couldn't stand up and work."

While other mobile kitchens have a bigger footprint, Fotiadis says he likes the adaptability of the wagon.

"I can fit in tighter spots," he says.

If there's room when he arrives at a job site, he leaves the wagon hitched to the truck for easy in and out. If not, there's no need to pull in precisely. He gets close enough to unhitch the wagon and parks the truck out of the way. Then it's just a matter of maneuvering the wagon into place.

"It's easy," he says. "Two people can push it around."

He also likes the financial freedom the wagon provides. Full-size food trucks can cost anywhere from $60,000 to $100,000, depending on the size and amenities, he says.

This wagon, ordered from China, cost $10,500, he says. "I paid (the loan) back in six months."

Before a job, Fotiadis takes care of all the cooking at a commissary, then refrigerates the food for travel. Once he arrives, he sets up for streamlined workflow.

"The first thing is you've got to get the chicken, beef and lamb hot, then you put out a tray with ice for the lettuce, tomatoes, onions and tzatziki," he says. "Then you get your paper goods ready and set your baklava, your napkins, your forks."

Then he's ready for the crowds to line up for his gyros, falafel and spanakopita. Fotiadis says he'll be a regular at Chattanooga Market this season and he's available for special events around the region.

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