Seafood on the go: El Crazy Fish reeling in customers at North County intersection

Gabriel Pasdor dishes it out at El Crazy Fish.
Tony, forefront, grabs an orange drink at El Crazy Fish.

Tony, forefront, grabs an orange drink at El Crazy Fish.

Fish up. While developers dither and county officials dally about doing something at the confluence of Valley Center and Cole Grade roads, Gabriel Pasdor is on the scene.

El Crazy Fish is the name of his happening food truck game, and the people are eating it up.

“There’s no other sea food around here,” Pasdor said between hearty rounds of dishing up the likes of tacos de pescado, tostadas with pulpo (octopus, or calamari for the translation-challenged; camaron (shrimp) and fish. Carne burritos and cocteles also rule. “I thought it would be popular here.”

Pasdor quickly was proven correct. El Crazy Fish has taken this empty street corner and dirt parking lot by storm.

True, the intersection is on the somewhat fast track to becoming Valley Center’s first actual modern-day shopping center, and by the looks of development projects either approved or in the pipeline, the first of half-dozen or so. That hasn’t stopped this property from remaining what it has been for time immemorial, a whole lot of dirt and parking lot with not much going on.

Food service times, they are a’changing

That all changed last week, as Pasdor rolled into town following many weeks of staking out permits and getting proper inspections pending his location at the hub intersection of Valley Center. An Escondido resident, Pasdor knew it was a key intersection, but perhaps didn’t know how key it was.

Pasdor expressed surprise this week at how busy the intersection was for traffic and pleasure at what that traffic has brought, namely customers like Tony, who declined to give his last name, but was exuberant in his praise of the crazy fish place in a parking lot..

“I’ve been coming here pretty much daily,” Tony said. “I’m eating a shrimp taco today and love it.”

Word of mouth and just plain good taste in the mouth has generated an instant and ardent clientele buzz apparently. Just around noon on a Thursday, a line even formed for the fare. Pasdor took care of customers quickly and with a certain panache.

A friendly guy, he had kind words and piping hot gourmet-quality food for those previously with nowhere to go, especially for fast fish dishes.

Food trucks have become a way of culinary life, so it was high time el Crazy Fish put down roots with a customer base of 50 daily fish lovers, a number Posdar said was growing rapidly as first-time initiates become regulars.

Putting food trucks in perspective

Signature fish and shrimp tostada and soft taco.

Signature fish and shrimp tostada and soft taco.

A collaborative study last August by University of Michigan and Northwestern University researchers used data harvested from social media to take a look at food trucks. Since nearly all food trucks connect with their customer base using Twitter to share information about their menus and location, researchers determined that more than 4,000 food trucks operated in U.S. cities that have a population of greater than 100,000 people.

UM’s Todd Schifeling and Northwestern’s Daphne Demetry, noted that food truck startup costs were a fraction of the costs associated with opening a new bricks and mortar restaurant.They  associated the food truck trend with what they call “the new authenticity economy” – a growth of interest in local, homemade, and artisanal foods and products. The average food truck employed around 3-4 people — Posdas had an employee with him last week.

Food on the Go listed interesting fact about the food truck business:

•    Monday is usually the busiest day

•    You can start a food truck business with as little as $40,000

•    In some areas in Nevada, food trucks have to move every 30 minutes to a different location

•    In NYC, food trucks cannot park in areas where there are parking meters

•    Around 54 percent of food truck customers say that if they did not buy from a food truck, they still won’t dine at a brick and mortar restaurant but eat fast food restaurant

•    Loyalty is beefed up if the servers and employees of the food truck are pleasant, willing to chat awhile, and friendly

•    Food truck business owners who use social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook generally get more customers.

The list of food trucks in San Diego is extensive to be sure. lists about 80, everything from Bosnian Grill and Caribbean Escape to Under the Crust and Wishbone wings.

Now, Valley Center has one, too, El Crazy Fish, 29200 Valley Center Road purveyor of mar and tierra, sea and Earth.

For more information, call (760) 390-7633 or email