Cara DeLalla has always been passionate about food, but as she approached her 30th birthday she could no longer ignore the pull to pivot away from her real estate career and kickstart her dream of opening a food truck.
She toyed with the concept during her college years, but the laws weren’t street food friendly and the food truck hype in America was less prominent than it is now. When she and her mom, Cathy DeLalla (also a real estate agent), finally launched their Atlanta-based food truck Meatballerz in 2014, they wanted to sell meals “locally sourced and made with love.”
“A few friends told us to watch the movie ‘Chef,’ and it really was the extra push we needed,” said Cathy DeLalla. She [Cara] approached me about getting a food truck, and I told her if you can get the truck, I can cook the food.”
Cara’s original idea was to open a hot dog cart in college, but her new idea was to fill a hole in the Georgia market. They felt Georgia lacked “good, casual Italian cuisine,” so they figured they could sell their own generational Italian recipes.
When coming up with the menu, the pair wanted a mobile meatball sub that wasn’t a soggy, drippy mess. “We were standing around the kitchen, and I decided to stick a meatball inside a round bread roll,” said DeLalla. “That was the beginning of the ball in the hole and Meatballerz. We asked our friends to help with names and slogans, and it all just came together.”
Their “Italian boule” is currently a mainstay on their menu, and it’s the only bread the pair use to make the sandwiches.
“After searching for local bakeries and trying lots of bread, we found the perfect baker, Best Bread Company in Chamblee,” said DeLalla. “They understood we needed a sturdy bread roll that was soft but could also hold up to the sauce and ball.”
Over the years, they have expanded the menu beyond meatball sandwiches, and they opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant in January 2020. While running a business has been rewarding, it’s had its challenges due to normal mother/daughter dynamics.
“In the beginning, there was a lot of yelling and fighting over ideas and plans, but the more we work together the better it gets,” said DeLalla. “We’re both strong personalities, so learning to listen to each other and make good decisions has been our goal, and I think we are better at it now.
“We are bonded by blood, so we are forced to work through things and have difficult conversations.”
Cathy handles paperwork, insurance, food orders and other administrative tasks while Cara is responsible for schedules, bookings, inventory management and working at the food truck and brick-and-mortar location. Cathy’s son Cameron occasionally helps and “is the tiebreaker in many instances.”
Even with the hardships of running a business, the two continue to stay true to their roots by spreading love and happiness through their food.
“We finally feel like we’re hitting our stride, and surviving Covid truly made us feel like we can overcome just about anything,” said DeLalla. “We are excited for our new food truck to be built and hope to have it open by the new year. We’re also exploring opening a Meatballerz food truck in another state.”
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