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Marvin Soliz prepares to fire up the grill for breakfast. (Brienne Green - Daily Press)

Marvin Soliz prepares to fire up the grill for breakfast. (Brienne Green – Daily Press)

Last July, travelers along U.S. 285 South began noticing something new off the east side of the highway. Around that same time, word began spreading amongst Artesians, as well… two primary words, to be exact: Starvin’ Marvin’s.

The white trailer sat off the slope of the road’s edge, a few signs advertising hours on a fence in front of it and a picnic table and chairs beside.

Inside was Marvin Soliz, a griddle maestro whipping up burgers, burritos, tacos and enchiladas with equal parts skill and gusto.

“I was trying to get that 285 traffic,” Soliz says of his initial spot. “It was closer to my house, too.”

While it’s hard to imagine how any motorist could cruise past a trailer touting “world-famous burgers,” and while locals were becoming fast enough fans to make the trek to Atoka for a taste, Soliz was struggling to balance income and effort.

“For a while, it was doing okay, but it’s like I was bringing in $80 or $100 a day, and that’s not enough for what I’m doing,” he says. “It’s enough for the truck to keep going, but it’s not paying me for my labor.”

6-12-FT-BurgerAs a result, Soliz recently made the decision to drive Starvin’ Marvin’s into Artesia proper for the foreseeable future and celebrated his first day in the city limits Thursday in the parking lot of Kimble’s.

Soliz is a one-man show, and by 8:30 a.m. Thursday, he was firing up the generator and the grill for another day of doing what he loves.

“I love to cook,” he says. “I cooked at The Wellhead for like five years. I was one of the main cooks in the back over there.”

He eventually decided, however, to give a food truck a try and built Starvin’ Marvin’s from the ground up.

“It took me six months to build it, seven days a week, day and night,” he laughs.

His ultimate goal is to earn enough money to open a permanent restaurant in Artesia.

“I don’t have the money for that right now, but if I can get $50,000 off this, I could do it,” he says. “I’m planning on trying it for two years. I’m coming up on the start of my second year, and if I can get $50,000 by next July, I’ll have a restaurant in this town.”

6-12-FT-EnchiladasThe menu at Starvin’ Marvin’s already reads like that of a much larger operation.

While most food trucks offer a relatively small menu, limiting choices to a few per day and alternating if desired, Soliz’s is extensive. He offers breakfast specials, including egg and omelet plates, sandwiches, and burritos, including the enormous and stuffed-to-bursting Lion Tamer.

His hefty burgers can be topped with a wide variety of extras, his Mexican menu includes tacos, nachos, asado and enchiladas, and his burrito options span the entire back page of his takeout menu with fillings ranging from chorizo to brisket to steak and potatoes.

The fan favorite, he says, is the burgers.

“I have a one-pound burger that’s popular,” Soliz says. “It’s big. One pound of meat, three toppings, and a pound of fries. The Mega Burger has ham, bacon, green chile and cheese, and I sell a lot of those.

“I’ve got guacamole burgers, mushroom burgers, bacon burgers… nearly everybody buys something with bacon on it. The basic burgers start at $6.75 and it’s 50 cents for each additional topping, so that’s pretty cheap for around here.”

6-12-FT-BurritoHe has a choice of meats always at the ready for customers to build their favorite meals around.

“I’ve got five different kinds of meat on my steam table every day: brisket, pork, steak, hamburger meat, and chicken,” says Soliz. “That means you can get chicken tacos or any of the other meats, all different types of enchiladas, different burritos, and you choose the fillings.”

Starvin’ Marvin’s also has shaved-ice sno cones for those wanting a cool treat.

Soliz plans to park in the lot at Kimble’s, 1404 W. Main St., from 8 a.m. to 4 or 5 p.m. weekdays and currently plans to return to his Atoka site on weekends in the hopes of catching summer travelers heading to Brantley Lake.

For daily updates, search Starvin’ Marvin’s on Facebook, where Soliz keeps his customers apprised of his whereabouts, hours, and any special offerings.