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A College Grad Franchises Grease-Truck Favorites

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Pass the antacid.

A little piece of Ithaca, N.Y., is coming to Boston, promising to satisfy students' late-night food cravings with a fabled menu of spicy, high-calorie sandwiches and pizzas.

Since 1960, Cornell University students have flocked to the Hot Truck, a campus fixture where customers readily endure two-hour waits to get gut-busting munchies. The owner, Bob Petrillose, claims he invented the French bread pizza, which he called Poor Man's Pizza, or PMP. Now, a group of Cornell alumni is seeking to duplicate the Hot Truck menu at a series of storefront restaurants under the PMP name across the U.S. The first one will open in Boston's Allston neighborhood, a student enclave, Sept. 1.

Jeffrey Riedl, a 1970 graduate, says he conceived of the franchise concept after years of campus visits which always seemed to culminate with a trip to the Hot Truck. "There's a network of Cornellians across the country that have to stop by and get a Hot Truck fix," he says.

Part of the mystique stems from the evocative names of the sandwiches. One favorite is called the Suicide because eating the pungent mixture of sausage, mushrooms, cheese and pepperoni is tantamount to committing social suicide.

Mr. Riedl, a lawyer in New Jersey, says he started PMP Enterprises Inc. with about $50,000 in savings and a lot of his own time. Now he's says he's ready to sell exclusive territories to prospective franchisees for between $25,000 and $50,000.

Andrew T. Miller, a Boston Internet entrepreneur, says he plans to open as many as 10 PMP restaurants in New England, starting with the Allston eatery. He says he's been a fan ever since his freshman year. "There's 30-something sandwiches on the menu and they're all special to me," he says.

Many onetime Ithaca residents agree. "I'm drooling," said Jack Dresser, a 1982 Cornell graduate and former president of the Cornell Club of Boston.


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