Monday, August 15, 2022
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Social distancing food truck offers online orders, pickup


Vampire Taco Truck is delivering takeout food at designated places around York County after taking online orders.

York Daily Record

A masked crowd — carefully spaced — gathered Tuesday on Linden Avenue in York.

People stood in front of the Thomas Shipley mansion waiting for lunch. A stone wall, circular drive, steps and pillars are all that’s left of the Victorian structure that was built by the successful York industrialist. The sprawling home with a turret was torn down in the 1970s.

The group was there for the Vampire Taco Truck, which brings takeout to neighborhoods in York and Lancaster counties on designated dates and pickup times. Food is ordered and paid for online through the business’s website. Care is taken to promote social distancing throughout the process.

More: A former mansion property in York, with presidential history, is now a comfortable home

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General manager Abbi Jo Ferree, right, hands a pre-ordered delivery to Thierry Gingrich, who came to bring some food back for her aunt who was craving Vampire Tacos. (Photo: Paul Kuehnel, York Daily Record)

Much has changed in the York city neighborhood, called The Avenues, since former President William Howard Taft spent time behind the ornate stone wall in 1915. However, the Shipley family would come to understand in that decade the importance of people wearing face masks outside their home.

When the global flu pandemic of 1918 hit York, everything in the county shut down. Churches and schools were closed. The York Fair was called off. They even stopped drafting men from York during World War I because of the infection.

More: The Spanish flu: How hard was York County hit during that epidemic?

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York City Councilman Felix Bentzel, right, and York City Fire Chief Harry Wills sit in a 1914 York-made Pullman chief’s car. Thomas Shipley, who built the home in the background, is standing on the porch. This was the first vehicle for the York Fire Department, now York City Fire/Rescue Services. Bentzel was commissioned with modernizing the department. (Photo: Photo courtesy of Peter Brady, York Daily Record)

Now in 2020, with restaurants closed and unnecessary travel mandated during the coronavirus stay-at-home orders, the idea of a pop-up takeout service was born using a food truck. It’s one of a number of trucks from a variety of local businesses now servicing the region, as more people look for meal alternatives.

More: Coronavirus: central PA deaths jump; updates from the state

The process is simple. Find a date on the food truck’s website, order online from the menu, pay online, and stop at the location provided to pick up a wrapped meal.

According to Jordan Pfautz, owner of Roost Uncommon Kitchen and co-owner of Vampire Taco Truck & York City Pretzel Company,  Vampire was meant to be the nighttime version of Roost. “Bats homes are actually called a Roost. Also a vampire taco is actually a cheese skirted tortilla,” Pfautz goes on to say. A cheese skirted tortilla is when the cheese is directly cooked on the griddle and then the tortilla placed on top.

The menu includes individual items like the Vampire Taco for $4, which includes smoked brisket, cheddar cheese, lettuce and pico on a flour tortilla, to a full family meal of chicken, pork or brisket.

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People order their food online at, pay online and meet the truck at a designated place in a neighborhood, where the final preparation is done and they get their takeout at a designated time. (Photo: Paul Kuehnel, York Daily Record)

“I think we are now at a point in the shutdown… you’re tired of cooking for yourself, you miss people putting a plate of food in front of you,” general manager Abbi Jo Ferree said while grabbing meals from the cooks and setting them out on a long table in front of the truck. Ferree added, “people want to support local businesses.”

Liz Leaman, who traveled several blocks from Philadelphia Street, agreed, “I don’t cook. I don’t like to cook. It’s a break having food already prepared.” It was the first time Leman had eaten out since the shutdown.

Thierry Gingerich, who was on a mission to get tacos for her Aunt Sue, said, “I have been trying to not leave my house… she eats them every time they come to York and she figured why not support them during this time?”

Coming up

The next Vampire Taco Truck dates include the Haines Acres/Fairfield area for lunch April 22, Eastern Boulevard for dinner on April 22, Jacobus for lunch April 23, Liquid Hero Brewing in York for dinner on April 23, Mountville in Lancaster County for lunch April 24, with dates continuing through May. Check

Photographer/reporter Paul Kuehnel can be reached at

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