Pizza Cottage

27 May

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Facebook: PizzaCottageFoodTruck
Twitter: @Pizza_Cottage
Website: http://pizzacottagetruck.com
StreetFoodFinder: Here

Pizza Cottage is not the first Brick and Mortar Restaurant in central Ohio that decided to go Mobile (we have Schmidt’s, maybe Giant Eagle Market Place Foodie Truck and kind of Sweet Carrot (caterers) that took that path), but they did decide to go mobile with a vengeance. The Pizza Cottage Food Trucks is large….maybe the longest of the pack. It is fully staffed (often a crew of four to six), has plenty of top of the line equipment, two serving windows, a video menu screen and all of the bells and all of the whistles. And the truck is everywhere in Columbus (not bad considering it is based on Lancaster).

However, as a new truck, it violates the first rule of Mobile Pizza in Columbus. We have Pizza Mike’s Kitchen, Flat Top Pizza (Mike and the Other Mike) and Mikey’s Late Night Slice. On my first visit to Pizza Cottage I could locate no Mike’s on the truck.

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The menu offers full pizzas (at some sites), pizza by the slice – always pepperoni or cheese, and often other varieties. A selection of subs and salads are featured as well. If you catch the truck on the right day at the right venue, you can have breakfast from the truck as well.

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The must try item from the menu is the BLT Pizza. It has the elements of a BLT – Bacon, lettuce and tomato with the addition of cheese and pizza crust that bridges the worlds of both bun and pizza crust. The pizza crust part of the sandwich has the doughy and chewy apsects of pizza dough but the crunch and firmness of a toasted bun. The cheese and the bacon fuse well together to hold the rest of the sandwich/pizza/sandwich together to make it easy to eat.

See the BLT Pizza below:

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Photos of a slice or pizza and an Italian Sub are below.

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Taco Sherpa

21 May

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Facebook: Coming Soon
Twitter: Coming Soon
Website: Coming Soon
Yelp

There is another Granville-based Food Truck to add to our list – Taco Sherpa. This truck also has some food truck history. Recycling trucks is pretty common in the business. Buying an existing business and keeping it as is has happened in Columbus before(Cheesy Truck). This time, we see Taco Sherpa, a well-known food truck from Chattanooga, Tennessee journey to Central Ohio to start a second life with Jon Ulmer and Ian Carroll. Ian is not stranger to the food truck scene, he had worked for the Burrito Bus in the past.

Another bit of interesting back story. Since there are not many Korean (or Korean inspired) food trucks this side of the Mississippi, Laura Lee from Ajuamama not only knew of Taco Sherpa she communicated with the former owners quite a bit. She knew the food truck was for sale but did not know it was purchased until she saw it pull up into the parking lot at The Food Fort when she is based. It is a small world in the Food Truck Biz.

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Now with the back story in the foreground, lets talk about the food. Many attribute the beginning of the national food truck buzz to the Beatlemania style popularity of Kogi Korean BBQ. Since it worked in LA and Chattanooga, Jon and Ian decided….why mess with the concept. They might tweak or change an item or two, but their aim is to stay the course.

The menu is simple. Chicken, Beef or Tofu is delivered in Burrito, Taco, or Quesadilla Form. You can also get a lettuce wrap. Pick a protein and manner of consumption and then pick or don’t a sauce to add to the mix.

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Their three signature sauces are (left to right): Sherpa BBQ, Avacado Wasabi and Lime Crema.

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A few examples of the final product are below.

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Keep an eye out for Taco Sherpa on the streets of Columbus and in Granville.

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Community: Mikeguyver

5 May

If there is something wrong in your food truck world, who you gonna call? MikeGyver!

Who is this Mikegyver and why he is respected more than Chuck Norris and MacGyver combined? Read on.

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Mikegyver, aka Tyvek, Metal Mike and Bearded Mike is known in other parts of the world as Mike Lauletta. He first came to the attention of the mobile food community while picking up some hours at Dinin’ Hall where he was known as Dinin’ Hall Mike. This was a convenient gig for him because he uses studio space at 400 West Rich so in between creating metal works, crafting Rube Goldberg style devices and working on various artistic outreach projects, he could hop over to Dinin’ Hall to help out and make a bit of spending money.

I interviewed Mike to find out how he became a mobile food icon.

“I got my start on a food truck from Laura Lee, chef/owner of Ajumama. We met at Dinin’ Hall and she needed some part-time help on her truck. I have a lot of experience cooking in restaurants, everything from steak houses to authentic Louisiana Creole.” After working on Ajumama, Mike started to work with other food trucks based at The Food Fort including OH! Burgers and That Food Truck. In addition to cooking and working the window, Mike has also helped clean out trucks, repaired damaged equipment and assisted with updates and modifications to design. In between that, he also started picking up some hours working with a caterer based there. There are countless Mike’s involved in the Columbus Mobile Food scene so to keep this Mike straight from Pizza Mike, Mikey’s, Mike and Other Mike from Flattop Pizza, Mike G and countless others….Mike was initially known as Bearded Mike. As his skills became more renown and in spite of the fact that he does not have duct tape holstered to him, as astute individual started to call him Mikegyver so the moniker stuck.

So what else does he do? “When I’m not living the dream working on a food truck, I am a sculptor. Mostly work in Cast Metal and Concrete, but no material is off my pallet/palate/palette. I can make anything you can imagine.”

I asked Mikegyver a few questions about what he has observed and learned in the Food Truck world.

Any interesting observations about the Food Truck world?

All I can say is if I had a dollar for every time a food truck owner told me ,” don’t tell anyone else this, but ….”

Any advice for food truck customers based one what you have learned?

Read the whole menu before you ask any questions and of course we take credit cards…. it’s the future.

Any Advice for Food Truck owners based on your experiences?

My advice for truck owners, if you are in it for money quit now. And don’t let anyone push you around. It is your burden/business so be open to advice but do what you want.

Being the hired gun / High Plains Drifter / Lone Ranger of the Food Truck world, if someone needs your services, how do they contact you? Is there a Mikegyver signal like Batman?

If someone would like to contract my services my email is Mikesinside@gmail.com

Paddy Wagon (2.0)

22 Apr

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(Photo provided by Paddy Wagon)

Cuisine: Eclectic American Comfort Classics served with a sense of Justice
Facebook
Twitter: @PaddyWagonFood
614.735.0491
Instagram : @PADDYWAGONFOOD
http://www.Streetfoodfinder.com : Paddy Wagon
email: sheriff@paddywagon.biz

Zach James, the owner of Paddy Wagon as come a long way. A survivor of the early adopters of mobile food in the capital city, Zach has been adapting to the changes of mobile food and keeping his business going where other peers have had to throw in the towel. You can read about the early days of Paddy Wagon -> HERE. In between now and then, Zach allowed graffiti artists to make his truck an art installation to stir things up and he has continued to mix around his menu, shifting from burgers to brisket while on his truck he switched from spray paint to a professional wrap. Never one to be complacent, Zach knew he had to change to compete and be taken even more seriously in the new age of mobile food. The old sheriff is the new sheriff coming into the town with both six shooters blazin’. He tries to source locally when practical. The Paddywagon serves food in compostable and greenware containers.

There are a lot of new things in store for Paddy wagon for 2013. The wagon relaunched for Earth Day so we will add an update to this post later in the year once Sheriff James gets the Capital City in order and his cuisine arrested to his satisfaction. While the menu still has a burger it also includes a mix of wraps and sandwiches (leading with a big Brisket based sandwich) all with some connection to law enforcement lingo.

Sharon Square Food Arcade

13 Apr

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So here is the thing. Well one of the things. While the whole concept of mobile food is being on the move, if an owner wants business people need to find the truck or cart. The best way to do that is to pick a spot, go there consistently for set hours, “train” the community to seeing you there and wondering what you do. Then with some luck, a lot of marketing, a good product and plenty of word of mouth….maybe you get enough business to keep going there. Investing that much time and risk into one spot is a lot to ask a new business and being stationary is contrary to mobile food right? Maybe not.

Someone on the move in the mobile food community is Rosa Huff, the owner of Crepes a la Carte. Full of Chutzpah and ideas she often a whirlwind of chaotic energy. She and her husband own a computer business at Sharon Square, a small retail strip right on the line between Worthington and Columbus….actually the line runs almost exactly in the middle of the parking lot. Long ago, Sharon Square housed a pizzeria. There is a hard to see walkway in the middle of the building which has an arcade feel to it. Rosa’s mind started to churn and she wondered…”maybe I can set up in the parking lot and serve my own community”. She tried it out on the late fall/early winter of 2012 and took the winter off to tweak the concept.

OK let’s track back a paragraph to this sentence Investing that much time and risk into one spot is a lot to ask a new business and being stationary is contrary to mobile food right? So how about teaming up with other mobile vendors to get more attention and building a following for the spot by offering a diversity of foods and making sure the hours that are committed to the community are covered. Somewhat unique to the world of business is mobile food, at least in Columbus. Most food trucks and carts view themselves as a community, not hardcore competitors but collaborators. It is their job to grow their own business and one of the best ways to do that is to make sure that like-minded businesses do more than survive, they need to thrive so they can be sustainable and legitimize the “brand” of mobile food. So with all this being said, Rosa looked for someone to partner with to build her concept in 2013 and she choose Matt and Lyle from Swoop.

Together with some other guest star mobile fooders, they have been quietly growing the Sharon Square Food Arcade over the winter. I contacted Lyle from Swoop to get some scoops on what is going on now and what we can expect to see in the future.

What is the current schedule for Sharon Square Food Arcade?

We are currently opening on Tuesday and Wednesday from 6pm to 8pm as follows

4/16/13 TBA

4/17/13 Ajumama

4/23/13 Cheesy Truck

4/24/13 TBA

4/30/13 Paddy Wagon

5/1/13 Kenny’s Meat Wagon

How many vendors are there now? Are there plans to expand the number of vendors?

We have 9 vendors but would like to expand that if possible its just a matter of making sure everyone involved has a good experience.

Are there plans to expand the number of days or times of service?

Right now we like the hours of 6pm to 8pm for dinner. It is a good second shift for any mobile vendor to tack on a few extra dollars to a lunch day. We also know how hard it is on the body to be in the truck or standing in the sun for too many hours so that will probably stay the same.

In May we will probably introduce Fridays and Saturdays (Saturdays probably extended lunch hours 12pm to 3pm)

What inspired the name?

There is an old arcade in Sharon Square that is hopefully a part of the future of the pod (maybe a place to go inside and eat during the hotter/colder months) Ultimately if the old arcade never becomes of use to the pod we still like the name a lot!

How did Swoop get involved?

Rosa and her Husband Tom have a computer shop in the strip mall and live nearby and became very conscious of the fact that the food in the area needed a little more variety and because of Rosa’s connection to mobile food she saw a very easy way to give her neighbors and friends new food to try (bring the restaurants to them!). Swoop! wanted to add a couple more dinners to their schedule in the winter months and saw this location as perfect place to test for a future pod. Swoop! boosted the mobile food awareness for the neighborhood and now that its getting warm wants everyone to share in the square (get it Sharon Square…share in square).

How can people find out more about the Sharon Square Food Arcade?

Facebook: facebook.com/5594NHigh

and email inquires: Sharonsquarefoodarcade@gmail.com

Anything else that you want to add?

We brought out the food that we felt best fit the feedback we got from the neighbors but we encourage everyone to like the Facebook page as well so that we can continue to poll everyone and schedule the vendors that the people in the area want the most and in turn create a place for mobile food to always have a good and profitable service.

Note: You may see the lack on Swoop in the schedule and some TBA’s. The Swoop Food Truck was hit by a car in early April and will be out of commission for a short while, in the meantime, they may make some appearances in food cart form so people don’t suffer lackofswoopitis.

Where to find the Sharon Square Food Arcade:

5594 North High Street (1 mile south of SR 161, 1 mile north of Morse Road)
Columbus not Worthington….but almost

Mai Chau

9 Apr

vietnamese food truck columbus

Facebook.com/MaiChauTruck
Twitter: @MaiChauTruck

A diverse range of cuisines have been finding their way to the local food truck scene, and Mai Chau’s contribution furthers this trend. Started by a duo that spent a couple of years teaching in Hanoi, Vietnamese food is their calling card.

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We caught the truck on it’s second outing, so the menu was limited but poised to grow. Here’s what we had:

In the pork banh mi sandwich the expected components were in attendance, except for pate. The quality of ingredients seemed high, and the signature freshness of the dish clearly came through. The Sriracha pulled pork was a bit of a curve ball, though – while tasty in its own right, it seemed slightly odd in context and we suspect that the saucing was perhaps dialed back to keep the heat of the sriracha in check. As a result, the sauce flavor was difficult to detect. It’s not as spicy as the menu description might suggest. Nonetheless, a likeable enough sandwich.

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The bun – a cold rice noodle dish – had us nervous… a bit unnecessarily, as it turns out. The key to this dish is the nuoc cham sauce, and none was provided on the side (as we’ve come to expect from local Vietnamese restaurants). Instead, it was drizzled over the noodles and pooled in the bottom, which led us to wonder if it’d be too much or not enough. Turns out, with a quick mix, it was just right. The aforementioned pork is a topping option, as are tempeh and chicken. We opted for the chicken, and enjoyed the flavor of it. Bun is a great summer dish and a nice healthy food truck menu option.

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The spring roll was similarly pleasant – a cold dish composed of a generous portion of shrimp, bean sprouts, herbs and greens. It was consistent with what you’d find at any Vietnamese restaurant, which is to say solidly good.

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Mai Chau is off to a promising start, and we’re looking forward to what they come up with next. If you find them in your neighborhood, check ‘em out!

Bunny & Michelle’s Brats and Such

6 Apr

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Bunny & Michelle’s Brats and Such
2480 Brice Rd (Home Depot)
Reynoldsburg
614 899 1188
Monday to Sunday 10 am to 5 pm
Other locations
6333 Cleveland Ave (Home Depot)
Columbus
Berliner Park for events

Let us take a moment to pop into the Columbus Street Food Wayback Machine. Mobile food as we know it occurred in phases and waves. Street Food 1.0 started on or about 2002, with the rise of Taco Trucks. Street Food 2.0 included the early adopters of Street Food: Ray Ray’s, Mojo Tago Tacos, Cheesy Truck, Short North Bagel Deli, Yellow Boy Polish Boys and a few others as well as several vendors that did not quite last a season. Street Food 3.0 started in 2012, with the large explosion of food trucks in Columbus with new and creative menus and a business model of hitting multiple lunch locations during the week and established bars and festivals on the evenings and weekends. This year we see how that model grows and evolves and we watch to see if owners crunch the numbers to see if they can make a profit and continue with a sustainable business.

Before all of the above, we had food carts and a few other mobile food vendors in the 1980′s and 1990′s. It is a tough business and many don’t make it past a summer. Bunny & Michelle’s has been serving for over a dozen years and they are still at it.

Bunny is the mom. She was out of work. She took what she had, invested it in a trailer and started to see if she could make a living behind the grill. She added her daughter Michelle to the mix and hit the road but did not get far. After a few years, they planted their trailer at the Home Depot in Reynoldsburg and have been there for about 13 years. They added a second trailer and set it up at another Home Depot. Now they are working on a third trailer to do softball tournaments and other events at Berliner Park.

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The menu is simple – hot dogs, brats, gyros and other simple fare all cooked on a giant flattop grill. They do a couple of extras which make a difference – the buns are lightly toasted, the hot dogs are split down the middle for cooking and to allow a cavern to hold coney sauce. They offer the same simple menu every day and aim for those that want a quick bite and consistency. They also jumped on board early to offer credit card sales years ago. So, to those that wonder if this is a fad, a trend or here to stay – over a decade of business indicates this can be a career for some.

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