GTPulse: Catch This Traverse City Breakfast Truck If You Can

“What’s a pineapple shorty?”

A woman was squinting at the menu on the side of the Cracked food truck from her car. She had just told both me and owner Bill Dungjen about how she wished she and her daughter could stop but they had just eaten breakfast somewhere else. I looked up at Bill from my spot crouched down in the window. “What’s a pineapple shorty?” I asked. “It’s just a little can of pineapple,” he said grabbing two small yellow and blue Dole cans and handing me one. After the woman drove away we stood and drank our shorties inside the food truck after a short day’s work. Short day for me, anyway. I had only taken three orders and prepared three meals. I hadn’t expected it, but upon arriving at Cracked to talk to Bill about his breakfast truck, he put me to work.

“There’s an apron on the passenger side!” He said after exchanging pleasantries. We both laughed because I thought he was joking. When I peeked around to the passenger side, lo and behold was a soft, faded blue apron slung over the seat. “Immersive journalism,” Bill said with a grin.

Cracked Breakfast Truck is Bill’s ode to his love for all things breakfast.

“Put an egg on anything and you can call it breakfast,” he said.

The baby blue and white, egg covered truck has been around for just over a year. Started last July, he ran the truck all summer through October and plans on doing the same this summer. The truck was an alternative to opening up a small breakfast cafe.

“I always wanted to do a breakfast place so I could work in the morning and have my evenings off. The truck is kind of a proving ground. Breakfast is a family-friendly thing, plus I just love it.”

The truck isn’t his only gig. He directs plays for the theatre department at Glen Lake high school and is a bartender and musician too. 

“I kind of do the up north hustle. I do this, when Riverside Bar was open I was there bartending and waiting tables too.”

But Cracked is a project all of his own. He has a 13-year-old daughter and 18-year-old son who helped him last year, but he’s running the show mostly solo this year. Solo until I showed up.

After throwing on an apron and taking a quick look around the truck’s kitchen, we had our first order of the day. Three ladies, one of which had been there before.

“I’ve been looking for you for months! I had a scrambled egg wrap with crispy bacon and cheddar cheese on it from you and it was so good. I don’t see it on the menu today,” she said.

Bill’s menu is always changing and although he didn’t have the breakfast burrito the woman wanted on the menu of the day, he wasn’t going to let her leave without it.

Three orders scrawled in a notepad later, we were behind a hot flattop watching tortillas puff up, naan brown, and pork belly crisp. Bill was casually instructing me on how many eggs to crack and how much oil to use.

“I’m going to burn this man’s breakfast empire down,” I thought to myself. These ladies may very well never come back again, or worse, leave an awful Yelp review but just as anxiety was starting to set in about my griddle full of breakfast foods Bill came over with to go baskets and said, “Looks great!”

The ladies happily took their food and Bill’s relaxed demeanor put me at ease for taking any more orders. For Bill, Cracked isn’t about being a high stress, high-pressure operation. He just wants to make sure people’s first meal of the day is a good one.

“I used to think you had to do something to everything to make it taste good, and now if I can put something whole together in a sandwich, I’m happy. My favorite days are when you go to the farmers market, pick up a bunch of stuff and then bring it back.”

His menu is ever-changing, except for his signature bacon cakes, which as you can probably guess, are bacon strips inside a pancake.

“We have our world-famous bacon cakes. One of our early adopters said we should get the Nobel Prize for our bacon cakes. They’re long and narrow, they’re meant to be able to dunk them but they’re always too big.”

But, is anyone actually complaining about having a bacon-pancake that’s too big? I didn’t think so either.

Whatever Bill’s menu is, he’ll always make you the pancakes, and maybe even a breakfast burrito that’s not on the week’s menu if you ask nicely. Our first customer of the day who had been dreaming about a burrito she had before had been hunting down Cracked for awhile. The thing about the breakfast truck is that it’s kind of like seeing a cougar or finding something on a scavenger hunt. You never know where it’s going to be and you revere it when you find it. The best way to find him is to follow the Cracked Facebook account, where a location for the truck will be announced the day before he goes out. Typical spots include the volleyball courts near the Open Space and Hull Park in Traverse City. He’s available for just about anything, however.

“We also cater all over the place, not just breakfast food either.”

If you can dream it, Bill will make it, and will probably make you smile or laugh in the process. If you spot him out in the wild, start your day sunny side up with Cracked.

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Categories: GTPulse