Photos by Tory Germann.
By Tory Germann
If part of your commute includes a drive by the Lord Overpass in Lowell, you may have experienced sudden unexplained urges for gyros and a vacation to the sunny islands that dot the Mediterranean Sea. It’s not your fault. Blame Ben Williams, the owner of Marko’s Mediterranean Grill. A former resident of Italy, Ben’s restaurant on wheels lures Greater Lowell to put on the brakes and take on his delicious European-inspired sandwiches.
Q: Where did you get your passion for food?
A: My mother’s kitchen taught me a lot. Also, it was my experience in Italy that formed me. It got into my blood.
Q: Do you miss Italy?
A: I miss Italy tremendously but I’m still exploring all that Lowell has to offer. The clams at Cobblestones and the food at El Potro are two recent discoveries.
Q: How does your food differ from the typical food truck fare?
A: We are professional Chefs serving high-quality fast food. We set the bar relatively high, We make our own bread, sauces and special dry rub for meats. If we can’t make it ourselves we don’t serve it.
Q: How did you get started in the food business?
A: I was the first American to go through Scuola Alberghiera culinary school (in Aviano, Italy) at 16. After apprenticing for four years, I opened the first Markos Grill after the Bosnian war brought troops to Aviano Airforce base in Italy.
Q: Why a food truck?
A: It was originally designed to cater to military bases. Basically we can serve the Military like they serve us.
Ben Williams, owner of Marko’s a Mediterranean Grill.
Q: How did you end up coming to the United States?
A: I left Italy at 24 to become a domestic relations attorney here in Massachusetts and invested in a condominium in downtown Lowell while attending law school in Boston.
Q: How do you juggle practicing law and the food business?
A: I like everything I do. I also teach law and political science at Umass Lowell. If I have to be in court I have my right hand man, Gionvanni Lauro, to assist me at Marko’s. The cooking doesn’t feel like work to me at all.
Q: How did you end up perched at the edge of the Lord Overpass?
A: I met Tom Durkin through Jambra (Jackson Appleton Middlesex Business Resident Association). Tom’s a pleasure to work with. He’s been instrumental in working with us to provide space for Markos Grill.
Q: How has your food been received?
A: We had so many customers back in Italy asking when we would be coming stateside so we knew our food was well tested. You can be Greek or a downtown gyro lover, our food fits everyone.
IF YOU GO
What: Marko’s, a Mediterranean Grill
Where: Lord Overpass, near 218 Middlesex St.
When: 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Learn more at Marko’s Facebook page.