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Meet Tyrone Moreno aka DJ MDA of Truck & Trowel Hamburgers in Pasadena/Highland Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tyrone Moreno aka DJ MDA.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Tyrone. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I moved to LA in ’98 from Fort Wayne, IN. My hometown has a couple of landmark eateries, one is Ft. Wayne’s Famous Coney Island Hot Dogs and the other is Powers Hamburgers. Powers makes old school sliders…real hamburgers. My Dad was a cement mason and would sometimes come home from work with a sack of Powers burgers. They’d be stuffed in a paper bag, some misshapen, some a little smashed…but they still tasted amazing.

I started to miss this style of burger so I decided to try and make a similar burger in my own way using grass fed beef from right here in California. After perfecting my burgers for about a year, I started to make them for my daughter’s birthday parties. A friend of mine, who is a successful restaurateur in Pasadena, tried the burgers and said “Man, this a product. The flavor and quality is there…the way you package and wrap them up…you should sell these!” So I started doing Pop Ups in early 2017 at his spot in Pasadena called Perry’s Joint. I didn’t know what I was doing but I was doing it. I did pretty good there and people started to ask me to cater their events. So I started catering, which I had never done before but I just jumped in there and we started killing it.

Since I come from a music background, I decided to start throwing this event called BurgerXBeats at my house. I would set up my grill right alongside my turntables and set up lights, fog machines…everything to make it a real dope backyard boogie. We would have 3-4 DJs including myself rock the turntables all night. It also gave me a chance to start creating new burgers to add to the menu…I would even have Fried Chicken Nights, I’d be frying chicken, cooking burgers and DJing at the same time. I wanted to open up the event to a bigger crowd so I decided to start having BurgersXBeats during the daytime. That’s when a lot of the neighborhood started coming and families from my daughter’s school, people off the street…it was great. I was also setting up in Highland Park on the corner of Ave 56th and Figueroa right near the Gold Line Bar. I loved being on the street and selling especially in that area. We had a lot of sell-outs there. The last night we were there, I introduced a Carolina Pulled Pork Burger…sold out of that fast. I was excited about that burger because people really loved it.

I was doing BxB and selling in Highland Park for a while and then the virus hit…shut everything down. When the lockdown started, I wasn’t setting up anywhere of course. Then I noticed the taqueros started opening up again. I also noticed none of the popular burger joints were doing anything. So I decided to start selling in my backyard again on Saturdays…pick up only, social distancing and mask required but with a limited menu. I didn’t know what to expect. Business has been great and well received. People are looking for a change in their daily lockdown routine so they seem real happy to come by, so we’re going to keep on keepin’ on and see where it takes us. Maybe BxB will make a return…on a small scale. Mask it up tho!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It’s been a lot of work. But well worth it. The road has been relatively smooth, I guess. Provide good food and people will want to buy it. But I think I need to challenge myself more though. Maybe a smooth road is not a good thing. I’m ready to really go hard but unfortunately this virus has thrown a monkey wrench in the plans. I’ve always been great at adapting to change so we’ll see what the future holds.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Truck & Trowel Hamburgers – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
My business is called Truck & Trowel Hamburgers. The event I throw is BurgersXBeats. I make old school classic cheeseburger sliders. I use grass fed pasture-raised beef from Marin Sun Farms in Northern California. My Classic Cheeseburger has thin sliced grilled onions, grass fed beef patty, American cheese, and a classic hamburger bun. My burgers are “steam finished”…no toasted bun. Pickles, Cascabel peppers, Crystal Hot Sauce, Heinz Ketchup, French’s Mustard upon request. My burgers are also great by themselves and is how a lot of my customers eat them. Currently, I have the Classic, Mushroom & Swiss, Bleu Cheese, Chorizo Burger, Impossible Burger (plant-based), Carolina Pull Pork Burger, Portobello Mushroom Burger and the Fat Boy. The Fat Boy has been a big hit. It’s a double cheeseburger…2 patties (1/4 lb), three slices of cheese, grilled onions on a steamed bun all for $7.

I don’t have all these burgers on my current menu because of the lockdown but I do have them as “Specials” from time to time. My burgers are unique to LA. I’m not a “smash burger” guy or a “McDonald’s” style guy but those are all solid burgers. I grew up with Steak N Shake which is one of the original “smash burger” spots and I love that place. In college White Castle was the spot for afterparty grub. White Castle is the closest in flavor and cooking style but my burgers are heartier, more juicy and more flavorful. White Manna in New Jersey and Powers in Fort Wayne, IN are the originators of this style. I took this classic style and made it my own. These are real hamburgers…old school “blue collar” hamburgers.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I go back and forth between wanting a brick & mortar and wanting a food truck/trailer. I might want to have both at some point. Right now, I’m just trying to introduce Truck & Trowel’s style of burger to LA. No matter what I do, music will be heavily involved. I’ve been a DJ most of my life and it was my profession for many years so if you hear of a BurgersXBeats going on in LA make sure you attend. TnT/BxB all day every day.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Olga Nezhevenko, IG @olgababolga Photos 2-6

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