You can find Ariel del Rosario and his team at either of the three indoor locations, or as seen here in his mobile unit on UAlberta North Campus main Quad. From left to right: Raydan Canafanca, Pamela Cabañas, Ariel del Rosario (co-founder and owner).
From a practicum for a web-development company in Tokyo to an enlistment in the Canadian Navy Reserves, and even a stint as a DJ, Ariel del Rosario, BCom ’05, travelled the globe and back to Edmonton to launch a business fulfilling his lifelong passion for food—food trucks, that is, a.k.a. ‘street food’.
Although street food can date back as far as ancient Rome where small fried fish were the main—and only—menu item, the food truck industry has become a thriving phenomenon often highlighting local produce, fusion fare and traditional cuisine to the masses.
For del Rosario, it was during his travels and work experiences in Japan, Germany, France, the Philippines and his career in the Navy that inspired him to explore the ‘food truck’ opportunity back home in Canada. “There was nothing like this in Canada in 2008—at least in Edmonton—aside from small wagon-type hot dog carts,” he recalls.
“I was blown away by the food quality and types of cuisine,” he says. “Spicy bratwurst and pretzels in Germany, and—of course—every kind of famous crusty baguette and 300-year-old yeast inspired breads in France, and the freshest of ingredients in Tokyo.”
Several years of various marketing and sales roles in different sectors had left him with a profound sense of corporate disenchantment, and, in the summer of 2010—with the renewed direction of an entrepreneur—del Rosario and his cousin, Roel Canafranca, launched Filistix—fili representing his Filipino heritage, and stix—representing common chicken or beef on a simple skewer street food in the Philippines.
“We put together a rudimentary business plan and our market research included Roel sitting outside 3-4 days in a row on Rice Howard Way in Edmonton, facing Fat Frank’s wagon,” recalls del Rosario. “There were 50 people in line every lunch hour, on every weekday, with 250-300 people all day… We could do the same.”
“We started off on in that same Rice Howard Way location, in a non-descript unbranded truck selling 8-10 orders in a single day—grossing $50…a bit of a rude awakening. Today, on an average day in October, we are grossing $5,000 at all three (indoor) locations.”
As one of the pioneers of the street food/food truck culture in the city, you can now find his mobile enterprise on the UAlberta campus ‘quad’ with a continuous stream of 20-30 + people in line at any given time indulging in menu items such as Classic Chicken Adobo, Chicken Afritada, and Thai Green Curry with mixed vegetables. Kimchi Beef with Green Peppers features Alberta lean ground beef sautéed with green peppers served with a spicy sauce made from Korean style bean paste and pickled kimchi—mmm!
Proteins (chicken, beef, and pork) are hormone and pesticide free and the company adheres to purchasing fresh ingredients and sustainable products as much as possible. Main menu items are made from scratch and there are also tailored menus to suit different demographics at all locations. The uniquely fresh, homemade taste has lead Filistix to be known as ‘the best food on campus’. “Even our plates are biodegradable,” notes del Rosario.
Del Rosario likes to credit his BCom marketing instructor—Jim Swaffield—as the one who “made me understand the importance of marketing as a driver for business. He transformed the content material to how it relates to real world application—(a concept) to which I refer on a daily basis.”
HOURS OF OPERATION
- The Filistix food cart (on UAlberta North Campus) is open in ‘Quad’ from May to August.
- Edmonton Clinic Health Academy (ECHA) operates year round.
- The Central Academic Building (CAB) (on campus) and the Grant MacEwan University locations are open from September to April.