Make Mine a Mocha: Graffiti Art Adorns Lunch Wagon
By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
June 20, 2007
When Ramon Valdez bought his own lunch truck to replace the concession
van “It’s a Wrap” that had been a mainstay on College
Road for many years, he wanted patrons to know that wasn’t the only
thing that had changed.
So, he and his wife, Kristin, asked UNH art professors if they knew anyone
who could create a graffiti mural for them. An artist who goes by S.H.
surfaced. Working from a picture he took of Ramon, he came up with a design
that, if it were on a building somewhere, would likely land him in trouble.
“We specifically asked if they knew someone who could do graffiti
art,” Kristin Valdez says. “The artist worked without a stencil
or an outline or anything. I’m still floored every time I look at
The mural took just four hours, start to finish. It’s signed “email@example.com.” The
name of the business is spray painted on the side of the truck along with
a picture of Valdez wearing a UNH T-shirt. There’s also a chocolate
chip cookie—one of Valdez’s signature items--and a banner ribbon
that reads “home of the mocha java.”
Ramon Valdez is from New York where, growing up, graffiti was a way of
life. He describes himself as one of the “bad boys” who did
tagging as a kid (but never on buildings). Then, as he got older, he found
many store owners who decorated their property with graffiti art.
“You’d see it all over up around 123rd Street,” Valdez
says. “I thought it would be fun to have someone do it for me.”
Kristin Valdez says it reminds him of home.
“Plus it’s the age we grew up in,” she says.
The couple met while working in the produce department at a local Market
Basket grocery store. He had always wanted to own “some type of kitchen.” After
working at “It’s a Wrap” for a few years, the opportunity
to take over the business led to buying a new truck last year.
Kristin Valdez left her career as a hair stylist in March to work alongside
her husband. The couple has three children, ages 14, 12 and 5. The Monday
through Friday schedule gives them weekends off with the family.
Ramon’s still sells many of the items offered by “It’s
a Wrap”—burgers and dogs and, of course, wrap sandwiches. But
Valdez has added his own touch by serving salads and subs and by increasing
the choices for vegetarians.
He’s also introduced daily specials. On Wednesdays, it’s some
variation of Spanish food.
“Last week it was black beans, rice and fried cheese,” Valdez
says. “And our prices are reasonable. You can eat a chicken patty
with French fries and a soda for under $5.”
Adds Kristen Valdez, “We have college student prices. All of our
meals are under $6.”
The biggest challenge, she says, is working together in such a small space.
One step inside—that’s really all you can take without being
in the way—confirms that description. The lunch truck is equipped
with a six-burner stove, a grill, two deep fryers, a couple of steamers,
a double sink, refrigerator and freezer. Supplies line the metal shelves.
Ramon’s is located between Horton Hall and the Paul Creative Arts
Center on College Road. For the summer, Ramon’s is open Monday through
Friday, from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. During the school year, they start at
7 a.m. and stay open until 3:30 p.m. The couple also caters to the UNH
horse shows in April, June, August and October.