'Street Eats' food truck set to settle down

After his food truck's successful debut, chef Steve LeClair is closing down the truck for the winter and opening up a deli.

Just seven months after opening his gourmet food truck, Steve LeClair is ready to open his first restaurant.

LeClair, the owner and operator of Steve's Street Eats  Central New York's only gourmet-style food truck — will open a deli at the Imperial Gardens apartment complex on November 5. The deli will have the same style and name as his food truck, presenting fusion and gourmet dishes that you might not expect at a food truck or a deli.

“I am going to focus on what's local, what's seasonal and what's fresh.”
Chef Steve LeClair

“I am going to do more of an upscale deli not known around this area,” LeClair said. “I am going to focus on what's local, what's seasonal and what's fresh.”

Steve LeClair and his wife, Danielle, have been in the restaurant business for decades. LeClair made a name for himself as the co-head chef at Antonio's Ristorante, which has since closed, and other restaurants in the Syracuse area. LeClair has been a professional chef for over 25 years, but the opening of Steve's Street Eats in April was his first foray into owning his own business.

“We've helped with other people's preparations for opening their own restaurants in the past,” Danielle LeClair said. “But never for ourselves. It's quite the undertaking.”

“It's [the food truck] been much more successful that we planned for or expected it to be,” Danielle said. “I'd never planned on working [at the food truck] full time, but it took off so quickly I had to quit my job.”

Aside from the new customers attracted to the bright red food truck parked in the parking lot at 136 South Geddes Street in Syracuse and on Widewaters Parkway in DeWitt, LeClair has a solid group of followers who love his creations, such as “the Shankenstein” or the “Adobo Chicken Tacos.”

Tom Hanley, of Syracuse, has been a fan of Steve's Street Eats after hearing of the food truck by word of mouth.

“This is my sixth or eighth trip to the truck,” Hanley said. “The food is excellent, and and it's all made from scratch. Everything he does, he does well.”

John D'Addario, a native of Syracuse, has been following Steve LeClair since his days at Antonio's.

“I come from a family that owned the Caroma Restaurant for 40 years, and I'm Italian, so I know food. This guy can cook,” D'Addario said. “You will never get this kind of food for this kind of money at another food truck.”

Luckily for D'Addario and the thousand people that like the Street Eats Facebook page, the Syracuse winter will not keep the delicious food of Steve LeClair away. With the opening of the deli  which is much more than just a deli  LeClair fans will be able to get their fix all year round.

“I've always been employed in all of the seasons, but I knew a food truck couldn’t be maintained through winter,” LeClair said. “I was waiting for the perfect opportunity.”

After spending seven months with just the food truck to run out of, LeClair knew he needed more of an established kitchen.

“I continually ran out of food during the summer, which was good for me, but bad for the customers,” LeClair noted. “Working out of a shared commissary kitchen was nearly impossible. With the deli, I can have backup food prepared and ready, and can call down there and have someone fly it down to me at the truck.”

Aside from the convenience of having a home base for the food truck, the deli presents a whole new opportunity.

“The deli will take on its own character,” LeClair said. “But I'm staying with the same concept of an ever-changing menu, with homemade soups, in-house meats that I will roast myself and homemade sauces from local and organic products.”

The deli will be furnished with furniture designed and crafted by Cosmo Fanizzi, a local artist who has been working with reclaimed, salvaged wood from trees around the city.

“I've known Steve for years,” Fanizzi said. “This was a perfect opportunity for me to showcase my work and for Steve to get the furnishing that he needed.”

Aside from the cooking that Steve will be doing, Danielle will also expand her baking regimen, which was mostly gourmet cupcakes with the food truck.

The deli at Imperial Gardens is a perfect situation for LeClair, who has been a friend of the building's owner, Mary Sue Italiano, and her family for years.

“They needed food for people in the surrounding area, and she knew I was looking to expand,” LeClair said. “It was a win-win, and with perfect timing.”

Steve's Street Eats opens at Imperial Gardens on November 5, with a soft opening.

“There's lots of opportunities for food people haven't even seen from us,” Danielle said. “It's really limitless.”

Steve's Street Eats & Deli

His move to Imperial Gardens just may seal the deal that I would live in that building!! Love the food & the people who make it!!

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