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Food truck for free? Almost, and restaurateurs keep the dough

SEATTLE -- Things are cramped inside Zander Natallanni's office -- and he couldn't be happier.


"This is the opportunity I've dreamed about for a long time," said Natallanni. "I know what I want to do and where I'm going."

The New York City native moved to Seattle in 2009 with "$75 to my name," he joked. Six years later, he has plans to open up his own restaurant, Triumph, with the help of a food truck two days a week along the high-traffic Seattle waterfront.

And he operates it for next to nothing.

"They purchase the food truck. They fully stock the food truck with all the equipment. I just make my food, take the truck out, and sell it for a day," he said. "It's just a good atmosphere but it's also a good way to introduce our new restaurant."

'They' are the workers at Seattle-based Ventures, The non-profit provides low-cost training and hands-on experience for entrepreneurs who might not otherwise have the opportunity, said Beto Yarce, the organization's executive director.

"The resources are there and the limit is the sky," said Yarce. "We just connect the dots."

Ventures works with low-income residents who might not be able to go to business school or afford a loan, he added. They go through eight weeks of training before launching their own business -- or, in this case, restaurant -- and continue to get guidance throughout the process.

The food truck, called "Word of Mouth," launched July 12, with plans to operate year-round. It'll be parked at Alaskan Way between University and Seneca four days a week through October.

Natallani's restaurant, Triumph, uses the truck on a rotational business. He hopes to learn the ropes and open a brick-and-mortar shop by the end of the year.

"It gives me a chance to secure my dreams," Natallani said. "Otherwise I'd still be at a coffee house or I'd have a regular desk job. I'd be working at Amazon."

"It's just a good atmosphere," he added, "but it's also a good way to introduce our new restaurant."

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