The Street Hawk experiences staffing shortage after reopening

The University of Iowa’s food truck the Street Hawk reopened this semester but is struggling to find staff.


Braden Ernst

Customers wait outside the beloved food truck on campus: Street Hawk, for some delicious food, November 11, 2021. The Street Hawk, run by Michael Graham and Chris Horras, has been serving the University of Iowa community for four years now!

Marandah Mangra-Dutcher, News Reporter

The University of Iowa’s food truck, the Street Hawk, is back on campus after its closure for over a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the truck is struggling to find the staff needed for business.

The food truck has two students on staff because of a lack of applicants for the job, but Michael Graham, the retail chef for University Housing and Dining said he wants to see that number be a lot higher.

“We’re trying to fill those spots because it’s hindering our ability to operate the way we want to, we’re only able to go out two or three days a week right now,” he said. “The staffing levels are not letting us do what we want to do.”

Graham said Housing and Dining wishes it could serve their clients more this semester.

“We have really loyal and happy customers which I think is fantastic,” he said. “I wish we could be out there more. I wish we could be out there all the time. But we just can’t right now and that’s been a real struggle this semester.”

Christopher Horras, Street Hawk sous chef, wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan, that the food truck shut down in April 2020 and reopened in August this year.

RELATED: Serving Hawkeyes with the Street Hawk

Graham said the truck had to shut down in order to follow COVID-19 guidelines set by the UI.

“Unfortunately, we were pretty limited as to what we could do because of the space inside the truck and the guidelines that the university was following for social distancing,” he said.

Students missed the truck last year, Graham said.

“One of the biggest comments we heard almost all of last year was ‘where’s the food truck?’” he said.

Samantha Eberly, a UI second-year and customer at the food truck on Wednesday, said the Street Hawk is convenient as a lunch option.

“The food comes out really fast, it’s always really good, and it’s not very expensive,” she said.

Graham said the food truck averages 300-350 customers for lunch every day its out, but he said he thinks the clientele is different.

“I just think that our mix of customers has changed a little bit,” he said. “It’s still predominantly flex meals, but we were getting more people coming and paying with credit card and paying with UI charge.”

Graham said when the Street Hawk originally opened in 2016 it was stationary on the T. Anne Cleary Walkway. The food truck was to relieve congestion from the dining halls.

The Street Hawk was able to undergo a big change once the Catlett Market Place was opened, Graham said.

“Now that we have that third marketplace open in Catlett, we are able to be a little more creative with scheduling rotating locations,” he said.

The menu has five entrees right now and weekly specials when the truck is fully staffed, Horras wrote.

Jacey Van Ravenswaay, a UI first-year student, always eats at the Street Hawk on Wednesdays and gets the pulled pork sandwich.

“I always get the pulled pork because I love it and my dad always makes it at home,” she said. “So it’s like something from home.”

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