Popcorn chicken with barbecue sauce in a waffle cone at...

Popcorn chicken with barbecue sauce in a waffle cone at The Cone Depot, a new food truck based in Copiague. Credit: Newsday/Scott Vogel

At his new food truck, The Cone Depot, Craig Stewart seems willing to serve just about anything in a waffle cone — popcorn chicken, fried shrimp, Philly cheesesteaks — anything except ice cream. This has caused a certain amount of confusion, as you might imagine.

"People had so much trouble grasping the concept," said the Amityville resident. "I’ve even had a customer say, ‘I want the chicken-flavored ice cream,’ because once they hear ‘cone’ they automatically think it’s an ice cream truck." And when people hear waffle cone, "they’re thinking they’re not going to enjoy it because it will break up while you eat it."

In part, Stewart’s problems are syntactic. He does not stuff grilled chicken, plant-based nuggets and such into a waffle cone, but rather a waffle in the shape of a cone — a soft, warm, breakfast waffle. And hey, chicken-and-waffles is a thing, right?

While Stewart blames this misconception for the "uphill battle" his Cone Depot has waged for mobile meal dominance ever since its rollout in March, you might be tempted to blame something else, namely the fact that he's selling waffle-wrapped cheesesteaks ($8). Oh, but no. Once customers are clued into his conceit, "they fall in love with it, they become lifetime customers," or at least since-March customers. One day that first month, Stewart, whose truck can often be found parked next to a Copiague Conoco station on Sunrise Highway, sold 350 waff — uh, cone-shaped waffles, and thanks to the portable nature of his business, he can now bring the fun to you. "We’re picking up steam," he said, even as he fired up the truck for a Cone Depot gig that would bring waffles to a company’s employee appreciation day. Later in the week he’d booked a teacher appreciation.

Cone Depot is Stewart’s first food truck but not his first foray into vehicular celebration. For a dozen years, he ran Busamove, a fleet of four party buses offering parents all over the Island the option to throw damage-free birthday parties for their kids (slogan: "Children tear up the bus, not the house"). Covid brought a swift end to the parties, of course, but Busamove has picked up steam itself recently.

"We’re reopening this week," said Stewart, who has already been contacted by schools seeking summer camp fun. "They said they aren’t actually taking children to facilities this summer. They’ll have more buses coming to them."

For the most up-to-date information on the food truck’s whereabouts and operating times, check the Cone Depot’s Instagram page (@theconedepot) or website (theconedepot.com). This Saturday and Sunday (May 15-16) it will be at 1310 Sunrise Hwy. in Copiague from noon to 7 p.m.

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