A 1942 Dodge farm truck that once hauled fruit now carries a very different cargo - a complete wood fired pizza oven, three beer taps, fresh water and a refrigerator.
When Iowa City chef Chris Grebner bought the truck from a California family, it had only been driven 7,000 miles or so and spent most of the last five decades sitting in a garage.
With a little care and some serious retrofitting, the vintage vehicle now has new life as a mobile pizza restaurant.
Grebner named the truck Provender, and he's driving it around the Corridor, catering parties. Provender is also parked at the downtown Iowa City Farmers Market most Saturday mornings, serving breakfast.
"I've always loved old farm trucks and antique vehicles. I liked the idea of incorporating food into something like that," he says.
Grebner trained at the Le Cordon Bleu in Portland, Ore., before moving back to Iowa City with his wife DeeAnn Grebner. He started a private chef service, and later the couple founded the Farmer's Table, a farm-to-table traveling dinner party, which they are still operating. They have upcoming dinners scheduled in Iowa City on June 20 and Walker on Aug. 23.
Most recently, he worked at the Lincoln Winebar in Mount Vernon, which centers its business on wood-fired pizza.
"The first thing we did when we moved back here was build a wood-fired oven in our backyard," he says. "I've been working with these ovens for about eight years now. It sounds cheesy or cliche, but I just love the romance of dealing with these ovens and fire."
Provender, which means food or provisions, was partially funded by an Indiegogo campaign, which raised $7,851 from supporters last year.
"Any time you can have community buy in and support, it's a good feeling," Grebner says.
He says the truck is in many ways an extension of the Farmer's Table.
"We've been doing on-location dinners for a while, and that's been really fun and very worthwhile work," he says. "But we didn't have the means to really pull off those dinners on our own."
The vehicle changes that.
The truck has three draft lines, two for beer and one for root beer. A full menu with appetizers, salads and desserts as well as pizzas is available for parties.
He is currently booking events into late July and August. So far, Provender has been booked for everything from a bar mitzvah to weddings. They can serve up to 200 people.
"Basically, we can be anywhere in the middle of nowhere and still pull off a party," he says.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHERE: Iowa City Downtown Farmers Market, 460 E. Washington St.
HOURS: 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturdays through October.
DETAILS: (319) 325-4344, provenderiowa.com