Food truck opens near Riverwalk in downtown Bradenton

Pier 22 owner, local businessman open mobile kitchen in museum parking

wtatangelo@bradenton.comJanuary 4, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Add a sandwich-serving food truck to the growing list of downtown eating destinations.

On The Roll opened this week in the parking lot of the South Florida Museum, across from the western entrance of the Bradenton Riverwalk.

It's where customers, especially those in a hurry, can enjoy items like a tasty breakfast sandwich called "The Porky Clucker."

It's a hefty portion of egg and cheese on a fresh, toasted roll with ham, bacon or sausage plus a side of warm, crispy, homemade potato chips.

The dish-to-go sells for $3.50. You can also have hash browns for a buck. Add $1.50 for a cup of Silver Fox coffee or cold can of Diet Coke.

Emanuel McCray, a worker for the city of Bradenton, enjoyed his double order of hash browns outside On a Roll around 8:15 a.m. Thursday.

"Could I please get some ketchup?" he asked while he and several other city employees were grabbing a quick breakfast before heading to work.

"Good food and fast service is the theme of this business," Don Popowski said.

The proprietor lives on a houseboat at the Twin Dolphin Marina and opened On the Roll with help from the owner and chef of nearby restaurant Pier 22, plus permission from the South Florida Museum.

Inside Popowski's pristine kitchen, which he built himself from a bread truck

he purchased while still living in Oxford, Conn., there was his ServSafe Certification, the state of Florida catering license issued to the Don Miller Development Corp. that owns Pier 22, and a vending permit issued by the city of Bradenton.

"I'm a retired businessman," Popowski said as he surveyed the cooking area. "If I wasn't doing this, I would just be sitting around reading books."

His four sandwiches, which all cost $6, are the prime rib-packed Godfather, the ham-and-turkey stuffed Surfer, the Angus-filled Elsie-Burger and the Kansas BLT featuring a whole wheat tortilla.

"The Godfather and the Surfer are two excellent sandwiches that are not common in the restaurant business," Popowski said.

He also plans to serve weekly specials.

One item you won't find on the menu, though, is frankfurters.

"We intentionally aren't serving hot dogs so we don't compete with the downtown vendors who have been serving hot dogs for years," Popowski said. "We're looking to be part of the family, not the competition."

Manatee County prohibits commercial vehicles, including food trucks, from parking on any streets, walkways or landscape areas. They can't even be parked in a residential lot for extended periods of time, according to the land development regulations.

In Bradenton, food trucks also are barred from operating on any public right of way, forcing them to either buy their own commercial space or receive permission from another private property owner, City Attorney Bill Lisch has explained to the Herald.

"There are some vendors who are grandfathered in, like the hot dog guy near the courthouse, but no new permits will be issued," he said. "We don't have any specific ordinances that deal with food trucks."

Fortunately, for the owners of On the Roll and foodies, the South Florida Museum is happy to host the mobile kitchen.

"The food truck could enhance the downtown Bradenton and Riverwalk experience by providing another convenient place to purchase food and beverages," said Brynne Anne Besio, executive director of the South Florida Museum. "The museum doesn't have any food options, so it provides our guests another opportunity to stay downtown." On The Roll is cash-only and open for breakfast and lunch 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Order in advance by calling 941-962-0029.

Wade Tatangelo, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7057. Follow To read more of Wade's thoughts on the Porky Clucker he had for breakfast Thursday visit Buzz Worthy at

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