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One Man’s Rust Is Another Man’s Restaurant


Joe Grigas was a man with a dream.

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He’d purchased a dilapidated 1954 Desoto 2-door coupe and took it to Bob Young at Main Paint and Body in Akron, Ohio, to restore it to its former glory. But as Bob and his crew unraveled the old vehicle, signs of too many years in the rustbelt became apparent.  

Bob explained the bad news to Joe: Unless Joe won the lotto, this car’s glory days were over.

Joe reluctantly accepted the verdict and promised Bob that somewhere, somehow, he’d find a Desoto that could be restored without lottery winnings. And he did — but that’s another story.


Our story is about what happened to the dilapidated, rusted-out Desoto.

Joe had thought for years about finding a job that let him work 24/7. That’s right — 24 hours a week for seven months.  

Not being a professional entertainer or a movie star, that left Joe with but a few choices. Then Joe got to thinking about that poor, old Desoto, lying in a parking lot with rust eating away at it from the bottom up.  

And an idea was born.  

Maybe, just maybe, he could cut off the useless bottom of the car and attach it to a new 20-foot flat-rail trailer; build walls out of stainless steel; devise a hydraulic pump system using four rams, a single pump and check valves; raise the roof and create a portable gourmet kitchen on wheels.


And that’s what you’re looking at folks. Desoto Joe’s is fully equipped with a six-burner stove, double ovens, a refrigerator, a freezer, a deep fryer and a fresh water system. The café can roll right up to your event and, within minutes, be serving up fresh food to delight you and your guests.

“My first wife was quite a cook,” says Joe. “She used smoke detectors as timers — she burned everything!”

Joe jokingly says that she was his true inspiration to learn how to cook.  

And cook he does. The fellows at Main Paint were lining up for the fresh quesadilla lunch that Joe prepared the day these photos were taken. The only thing missing was a mariachi band.


Writer Michael Regan worked on the paint side of the collision repair industry for 36 years and lives in Northeast Ohio. These days, he can be found teaching cooking classes, playing guitar and piano, and baking some of the best cakes that money can buy. You can contact him at [email protected]

Compliments to Bob Young and his crew at Main Paint and Body for the fine work they did restoring Joe’s Desotos.

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