Age is just a number: Teen finds success with food truck

Published 12:10 am Sunday, November 12, 2023

ROCKWELL — A lot of kids can’t wait for the weekend because it’s a break from school and a chance to play. For 13-year-old Vivian Dattoli, Saturday is when the work begins.

Dattoli runs her own food truck called Vivian’s Rockin’ Concessions. The Rockwell teenager has become a fixture at events in and around Rowan County, selling her famous sliders and chopped cheeses.

It might seem like she is young to be running her own business, but her dream actually started two years ago when she was only 11.

“In 2021, I started cooking a lot,” Dattoli said. “I came up with the recipe for sliders. I made my own recipe and my own seasonings, my own secret type of recipe.

“They were so good that I wanted to sell them to people because I thought that they were good enough that I could do that.”

Instead of opening a brick-and-mortar location, Dattoli decided that she wanted to run a food truck.

“Therefore, you can travel to different places for different people to try your food,” Dattoli said. “That is how I came up with it, and I am really glad that we did because we now are selling a lot of stuff, doing great, doing awesome business and seeing a lot of people happy.”

As soon as she took her sliders to market, Dattoli said they were an instant hit, so much so that it encouraged her to explore additional offerings.

“We expanded the menu,” Dattoli said. “We had chopped cheese and sliders at first. Then, we added rockin’ nachos, kids nachos and then a rocking sampler, walking tacos and tacos.”

According to Dattoli, customers are routinely surprised to learn the business they are patronizing is run by a 13-year-old and even more surprised when they find out how good the food is.

“People say, ‘Wow, you are really young and still own this type of business, that is really awesome,'” Dattoli said. “When they try my food, they are like, this is really great. Some have said it’s the best slider or chopped cheese they have ever had.”

For those who don’t know, Dattoli explained what a chopped cheese sandwich is.

“A chopped cheese is on a hoagie bun and has all-natural ground beef with lettuce and our famous pink sauce recipe with tomato and nacho cheese,” Dattoli said.

Asked if it was a fun family experience, Dattoli enthusiastically said, “Oh yeah.”

“My favorite part about what I do is seeing people happy when they eat my food,” Dattoli said. “It’s fun working the truck, going to different places and trying different things — trying out other people’s food and seeing the vendors and everything else.”

She’s getting a first-hand look at running a business, too.

“I am the chef, so I cook with my dad, but I sometimes, once in a great while, I work the register,” Dattoli said.

It’s been an exciting journey for her so far, but Dattoli said she is only just getting started.

“In the future, we might open a brick-and-mortar; it just depends on the business,” Dattoli said.