Milwaukee Venture Savors Soup, Served Up Roadside

Jun 7, 2013

The food truck phenomenon was a bit late in arriving in Milwaukee, compared to some cities, but there is an apparent renaissance underway.  Buying food from a vendor on the street here is about more than lukewarm hot dogs – it’s gourmet cuisine, ranging from Asian, to pizza, to West African, to now – soup.

Steve Perlstein is optimistic that Milwaukeeans will enthusiastically slurp his tantalizingly sumptuous savory liquid concoctions.  His enterprise – the Simmer Truck – comes off the back burner and to a full boil this weekend.  He co-founded the truck with his wife, Jennifer.

Steve Perlstein serves up some of his tomato basil soup on the Lake Effect lanai.
Credit Mitch Teich photo

Perlstein, who brought along some tomato basil soup to the Lake Effect studio recently, says it wasn't his initial plan to start a food truck.  The former journalist-turned-chef originally planned to start a traditional, bricks-and-mortar restaurant, but the costs were daunting.

For a fraction of the price, he had a mini-school bus retrofitted to serve soup and sandwiches, and in the process, started a business that's far more flexible than a conventional restaurant.

"You know, if we don't want to run the truck on a particular day, we don't take it out of the garage, and we don't open. If a location isn't working, we start the engine and drive away and find another one." - Steve Perlstein

The Simmer Truck was started in part with crowd-sourced funding through a Kickstarter campaign, which in turn received a boost from an endorsement by Milwaukee musician - and Lake Effect alum - Trapper Schoepp: