One Food Truck, Two Identities

03/14/2019
Story and photo by Gabrielle L. Wheeler

Zooming down the highways and byways, keep a look out for the Global Taco food truck on or after April 16, selling – you guessed it – tacos near you! Currently disguised as the Cheesy Rider food truck and stationed at Upstate Brewing Company in Elmira, owner/operator Sarah Caldwell chases away the cold with her amazing “grown up” grilled cheese sandwiches during the winter months.

One truck, two seasonal businesses. At first, I could not understand why Caldwell would go to the trouble of splitting it up, however, she soon laid it out as an economic issue. “Well as much as I wish people wanted to buy tacos in the winter, they didn’t my first 2 years,” she explains. Being a year-round taco eater myself, this was not immediately apparent to me, but with some reflection, I can see the point. Out of this conundrum, the idea for Cheesy Rider was incubated. For her super-thick and cheesy grilled sandwiches, Caldwell is able to source many of her winter menu item ingredients locally, including purchasing her breads at the Glen Mountain Market, and getting cheeses from Shtayburne Farms and Yancey’s Fancy. In addition to economics, Caldwell adds, “And also, you know, I make tacos 7 months out of the year – I don’t want to get bored.”

While the Cheesy Rider camps out all season in Elmira at Upstate Brewing Company, when dressed as Global Taco, the truck travels between counties across the Finger Lakes Region. Caldwell originally developed the idea of a Finger Lakes food truck when it seemed apparent to her that the wine trail needed such an addition. Now on the brink of its 7th season, the truck does do some touring on the wine trail, but Caldwell has found that business has boomed for her in the Elmira area. The menu features tacos inspired by Mexican, Korean, Chinese, and Southern Pork BBQ cuisine – and even features an Upstate NY taco.

In addition to selling delicious food, Caldwell is committed to working for positive change for the region. Recently, she opened Downtown Grind in Elmira, which serves locally roasted coffees and sells locally-made hand crafts. She also organized Movies on the Lake at Clute Park in Watkins Glen, which is an annual free, family-friendly movie for community members. As well, Caldwell esteems herself on offering fair wages to her workers and believes it is pertinent that workers, like those in food service who are doing more than minimum work, get paid more than minimum wage.

Being a year-round taco-eater, I was satisfied with my ‘Goodfellas’ grilled cheese but can’t wait to run into Global Taco sometime this spring.

To contact Cheesy Rider/Global Taco, please visit globaltacotruck.com or cheesyrider.com, email 607taco@gmail.com, or call 607-742-1943. Global Taco is also on Facebook and Instagram.

To enjoy a grilled cheese, visit Cheesy Rider by April 6 at Upstate Brewing Company, 3028 Lake Rd, Elmira, NY 14903.


Gabrielle Wheeler is a freelance writer from the heart of the Finger Lakes Region. On her parenting blog, aplaceforlittlesproutstogrow.com, she writes about tending to the whole child and parent. She also works in a local health center as an interpreter/patient navigator