Bringing home the bacon — by food truck

One of the hottest new dining spots on the North Shore is “The Lot” in Middleton. Located across from Richardson’s Ice Cream, The Lot is a food truck lover’s dream situated on what used to be a vacant corner lot on Route 114.

In the center of it all is Chicken and The Pig, the brainchild of Lynnfield resident Guy Ciolfi, which, since opening in June, has become a crowd favorite when it comes to gourmet chicken cutlet sandwiches and specialty hot dogs.

“The response from the public has been incredible, and our customers are always posting things on social media that our sandwiches are, by far, the best you will ever have,” he said. “We got off to a slow start, but now we are out straight. It’s been far better than I ever expected, even with the delays and bad weather.”

The Lot features three other food trucks offering a variety of items to satisfy any palate. From the homemade pies at Curbside Wood-Fired Pizza to gourmet burgers at Good Fellows to lobster rolls at Salty’s, there’s something for everyone.

Ciolfi’s entry into the food-truck world was somewhat accidental. For 20 years, he’s operated Servizio, a catering company in Burlington which provides corporate food services, but “I’ve always toyed with the idea of opening a food truck.”

When COVID-19 hit, he jumped at the opportunity and contacted The Lot’s owner, Jay Currier.

“He connected me with the Salty’s guys,” Ciolfi said. “We all thought it was a great idea and knew we could make it work. We bought a truck and were ready to go in April.”

Unfortunately for Ciolfi, The Lot was not ready to host them for a number of reasons, the most impactful being rainy weather that slowed down the construction schedule.

Originally open from Wednesday through Sunday, the truck recently added Tuesday to its roster, so it is now open six days of the week.

The most popular item on the menu is the Vermont sandwich, a cutlet topped with Kayem bacon, buttermilk ranch dressing, lettuce and tomato on a grilled, buttered brioche roll. The All-American is also a favorite. It has American cheese, lettuce, tomato, Kayem bacon and mayo and is also served on a grilled, buttered brioche roll.

While chicken sandwiches are preferred by most customers, Ciolfi said hot dogs “are catching on,” adding his top-seller is the House Dog, which features a quarter-pound Kayem all-beef dog smothered in bacon, grilled onions and homemade, brewery-style mustard in a grilled bun.

While the month of July was plagued by rain, Ciolfi said that business has picked up, regardless. Often on weekends, the line of people waiting to order will snake through the picnic-table area.

“Weather has been a killer,” said Ciolfi. “We were only open for three days during the Fourth of July week, but now we are out straight.

Ciolfi said The Lot is the perfect place, not only for a quick bite, but for family outings and reunions.

“People love coming with their families to celebrate special occasions,” he said.

Ciolfi plans to stay open through November.

“Food trucks have definitely become cold-weather destinations lately,” he said.

The truck does a robust takeout business and recently added DoorDash for customers wanting delivery. On average, Ciolfi sells more than 1,000 chicken sandwiches and 350 hot dogs each week.

Unlike the other food trucks at The Lot, the Chicken and The Pig truck — a former UPS delivery van — is fully mobile.

“It’s completely driveable,” Ciolfi said. “It runs on a generator and has fresh water and wastewater tanks along with a hot-water heater, three refrigerators, one freezer, a dishwasher and sink.

“They’re made to move, but they can only hold so much,” said Ciolfi.

During the winter months, Ciolfi plans to move the truck to Burlington to be used to bolster his catering business.

In the meantime, Ciolfi’s focus is on keeping up with increasing demand.

“The response from customers has been great. Many of them compare us to (Beverly-based fried chicken restaurant) Flip the Bird,” said Ciolfi. “We didn’t open to compete with anyone but people keep telling us that we have one of the best chicken sandwiches you will ever eat, so to be compared with them is pretty good.”

“We’re just trying to keep giving people the best food we can for as long as we can and we’re hoping for some really good sunny weather the rest of the summer into the fall.”

Salty’s employee Gary Moran added. When asked why he was waiting in line for a takeout order for his crew, his answer was simple.

“They have the best chicken sandwiches I’ve ever had. We love them.”