New food truck vendors will not be welcomed to Turlock any time soon, following the City Council’s decision on Tuesday to extend a temporary freeze on issuing new mobile food facility permits.
At their last meeting of the year, the City Council voted unanimously to extend the halt on the issuance of mobile food facility permits for a period of 10 months and 15 days. In November, the City issued a 45-day moratorium that saw the immediate freezing of any new food truck permits, which was set to expire on Dec. 27. With the approaching deadline and with the City not much closer to a final decision on whether or not food trucks will be allowed in the downtown area, the Council opted to extend the moratorium while discussions continue.
In the Dec. 5 Planning Commission workshop, the majority of the public opinion voiced during the meeting was against allowing the mobile food trucks in the downtown core, which runs primarily down Main Street from Palm to Lander Avenue.
The Turlock Downtown Property Owners’ Association has made it clear during several public meetings on the matter that they would like to have food trucks prohibited from the downtown core, except during special events such as the Downtown Christmas Parade or Turlock Farmers Market.
TDPOA Administrative Assistant Dana McGarry has voiced that food trucks should only be temporarily allowed for such special events and not permanent structures in the downtown scene. Many members of the TDPOA, according to McGarry, have cited “unfair business advantages” as the main reason why the mobile facilities should not be allowed in the downtown, primarily noting a 42-per square foot extra tax placed on downtown business owners that goes toward the maintenance of downtown – a benefit that mobile food vendors are not required to pay, yet “reap the benefits of.”
Other matters such as parking have come about, as food truck Vida-Vital owner Christopher Shaun – who prompted the discussion after requesting a food truck permit to be located on Main Street – will be located in an empty parking lot. Shaun has noted that parking will not be an issue, as his truck would only take a portion of the parking lot, where he has full permission to be by the property owner. He also noted that his customers at Vida-Vital would only be there for 10-15 minutes each, as the nature of food trucks is to “grab and go.”
Although the City opted to extend the moratorium, Shaun continued to fight for his cause, saying that he is beginning to feel like a “poster child” for the issue.
“At first I thought this was about if we could keep it fair,” said Shaun. “Now I’m starting to wonder if it’s just becoming a barking issue. Now people are bringing up issues of parking, which I’ve said is not going to be an issue. I just feel like if it was a member of the TDPOA that was coming forward with this idea, of bringing a food truck to the downtown, then we wouldn’t be going through this right now. I’m starting to feel like a poster child now.”
Shaun’s business, Vida-Vital, was grandfathered in by the City in November, and is expected to soon be operating on Main Street across from Dustbowl Brewery. His food truck will offer healthy alternatives, including smoothies, fruit bowls, crepes and tapioca pearl tea.
“We’re extending the moratorium to have ample time for discussion,” said City Councilman Steven Nascimento. “I think it would be unfair to issue permits while we move forward with this process.”
According to City Planning Director Debbie Whitmore, the decision is not expected to take the full 10 months and 15 days. City staff is expected to bring forth a zoning ordinance amendment to the Planning Commission meeting in January 2014. Following the planning commission’s decision, the issue is expected to be brought to the City Council again by March 11, with a new amendment fully in place by April 24.
A plan has been submitted to open a food truck market on the parking lot where the Le Virage restaurant once stood.
The Walnut Creek Planning Commission will consider the special use permit application at its meeting on Thursday night.
The project has been proposed by the family that owns the .42 acre site at North Main Street and North California Street.
The operation would be overseen by the family’s company, the Bend Food Truck Market.
The plan calls for the market to be open Monday through Saturday with lunch served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Live music would be performed from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays.
Eight food trucks would be parked on the lot with a maximum of 72 customers allowed at any one time.
There would be 23 parking spaces available and 12 tables with umbrellas would be set up.
Matt Marinelli, whose family has owned the lot for 30 years, would run the day-to-day operations. He is graduating this month from Cal State East Bay with a degree in business with a focus on finance.
Marinelli said 27 food trucks have signed on so far.
The Marinelli company will utilize 16 of them at first. The rest will be on call and potentially be considered for future markets.
Eight of the trucks will be on the lot on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. The other eight would have Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday slots.
The truck owners have signed five-week agreements. Other trucks might be rotated into the schedule after the initial five weeks.
Marinelli said if the plans are approved, the market would open in February or March.
He said his family has been trying to figure out a use for the property since the Le Virage restaurant was gutted by a fire in August 2012. The building was torn down shortly after the blaze.
Marinelli said they tried to use the property as a parking lot but were eventually told they couldn’t do that any longer.
Marinelli got the idea for the food trucks when he saw the Off The Grid website. He figured the location at 2211 N. Main Street had plenty of vehicular and foot traffic and was close enough to the BART station to make a food truck market work.
“I don’t see anything else like it in Walnut Creek,” he said.
In the staff report to the commission, city planners said they have some concerns about cars entering and exiting the parking lot.
They’ve asked Bend Food Trucks to make some improvements to the lot and the adjacent sidewalks.
They also recommend a six-month trial period to see how the operation goes.
Marinelli said he’s been anticipating the commission hearing and is hopeful the company can get started soon.
“I’m ready to handle it,” he said. “I’ll be there every day for the first six months if need be to make it work.”
Highlight Food Truck of the Week: Rock and Roll Tacos
Rock and Roll Tacos launched in November 2011 from the efforts of James and Mary Ann Quinonez. Rock and Roll Tacos primary market are upscale tacos at a street food price. While many food trucks have been starting to “price creep” north of $10 per person, Rock and Roll Tacos keeps it down in the $6 to $8 range.
From the beginning of the food truck era in Dallas, Rock and Roll Tacos has been active in the industry, pulling together events such as the weekly Wednesday Sigel’s/Greenville, and coming up this weekend: Trucks for Tots.
Here is your schedule for the remainder of the week. Remember, ice happens. Check Facebook and Twitter feeds.
ThursdayThursday LunchThursday Dinner
ThursdayBombay Street FoodDallas Art District Winspear Opera House
ThursdayCajun TailgatorsTruck Yard 5624 Sears 11-9Truck Yard 5624 Sears 11-9
ThursdayCoolHausKlyde Warren Park 11am-4pm
ThursdayCup CakinMeadow Park 1pm – 1:50pm, 8080 N. Central Expressway 1:45pm – 2:50pmTBA
ThursdayEasy SliderDear Holly Shopping Event at Tractorbeam (325 S Cesar Chavez) 6p-9p
ThursdayEat Jo DawgsDallas Arts District 11am – 2pm
ThursdayGandolfo’s #1Klyde Warren Park, Dallas
ThursdayGandolfo’s #2TBD4755 Gramercy Oaks Dr. Dallas 5-9
ThursdayNammi #1Dallas Klyde Warren Park 11am-3pm
ThursdayRockn’ Rick’sConexis and LSG Sky Chefs 6191 Hwy 161 Irving (11-2PM)TBD
ThursdayRuthies CreperieKlyde Warren ParkPrivate
ThursdayRuthie’s Grilled CheeseKlyde Warren ParkPrivate Hayride
ThursdayRuthie’s TooKlyde Warren Park
ThursdayWhats Cook-N Chefprivate4-7 Thistle Hill @ 1509 Pennsylvania Ave, FW
ThursdayWhat’s Da ScoopSMU Flagpole 11-2Klyde Warren Park 4-9
FridayFriday LunchFriday Dinner
FridayBombay Street FoodDallas Art District Winspear Opera House
FridayCajun TailgatorsTBDArts District- Holiday Tree Lighting 2043 Flora 5-9
FridayCoolHausKlyde Warren Park 11am-4pm
FridayCup CakinTBAATTPAC Holiday Campus Lighting Arts District 4pm – 9pm
FridayEasy SliderPrivate Event
FridayEasy SliderThe Truck Yard (5624 Sears) 11a-9pThe Truck Yard (5624 Sears) 11a-9p
FridayEat Jo DawgsTruck Yard – 5624 Sears St, Dallas, Texas 75206Truck Yard – 5624 Sears St, Dallas, Texas 75206
FridayGandolfo’s #1Klyde Warren Park, Dallas
FridayGandolfo’s #212221 Merit Drive, Dallas 11-2
FridayGuava TreeMulti View, 7701 Las Colinas Ridge, Irving, TX 75063Reliant Lights Your Holiday-ATTPAC 5:00PM – 9:00PM
FridayNammi #1Dallas Klyde Warren Park 11am-3pmDallas Arts District Tree Lighting, 5pm-9:00pm
FridayNammi #2private event
FridayParrotIcceDallas Raw Entertainment Party (6:00- 11:00pm)Deep Ellum
FridayRockn’ Rick’sMarc Group 7850 Beltline Irving (11-2PM)Reliant Lights at Dallas Arts District (5-830PM)
FridayRuthies CreperieKlyde Warren ParkNewman Village – Frisco
FridayRuthie’s Grilled CheesePrivate lunchNewman Village Frsco
FridayRuthie’s TooIt’ll Do Club 4322 Elm StPrivate Event
FridaySimply DosaFort Worth Food Park 2509 weisenberger stFort Worth Food Park 2509 weisenberger st
FridayTBS 1Klyde Warren Park, Dallas
FridayTBS 2TBDDallas Eagle Bar. 10:30pm-2:30am
FridayTrailercakesKlyde Warren Park: 11AM – 6PM
FridayWhats Cook-N Chef11-2 Thistle Hill @ 1509 Pennsylvania Ave, FW
FridayWhat’s Da Scoop12221 Merit Drive 1-3
SaturdaySaturday LunchSaturday Dinner
SaturdayCajun TailgatorsToys for Tots 8080 Park Lane- Dallas 11-5Toys for Tots 8080 Park Lane- Dallas 11-5
SaturdayCoolHausKlyde Warren Park 11am-4pm
SaturdayCup CakinTrucks for Tots at Shops at Park Lane 11am – 5pmTBA
SaturdayEasy SliderGreat Santa Run (Shops at Legacy, Plano) 8a-12pCandlelight at Dallas Heritage Village 3p-9p
SaturdayEasy SliderTrucks for Tots (Shops at Park Lane) 11a-3pPrivate Event
SaturdayEat Jo DawgsTruck Yard – 5624 Sears St, Dallas, Texas 75206Truck Yard – 5624 Sears St, Dallas, Texas 75206
SaturdayGandolfo’s #1Klyde Warren Park, DallasKlyde Warren Park, Dallas
SaturdayGandolfo’s #2Private Event Dallas Eagle Bar 10:30pm-2:30am
SaturdayGuava TreeLakewood Brewery – 2302 Executive Drive
Garland, TX 75041, 12pm-3pmThe Truck Yard, 5pm-11pm
SaturdayNammi #1Dallas Klyde Warren Park 11am-6pm
SaturdayNammi #2Trucks for Tots, Shops at Parklane, 11-6pm
SaturdayParrotIcceTrucks for Tots (11:00am – 5:00pm) Shops at Park Lane — Park Lane Greenville
SaturdayRockn’ Rick’sCity of Crandall Hometown Christmas and Parade (9-3PM)Vitruvian Lights Addison (5-9PM)
SaturdayRuthies CreperieTruck for Tots event – Shops at Park LaneCandleight Tour -Old City Park
SaturdayRuthie’s Grilled CheeseSanta Fun Run PlanoPrivate
SaturdayRuthie’s TooKlyde Warren ParkPrivate Event
SaturdaySalsa LimonTruck YardTruck Yard
SaturdaySimply DosaTruck For Tots Shops at Park Lane
SaturdayTBS 1Klyde Warren Park, DallasKlyde Warren Park, Dallas
SaturdayTBS 2Toys for Tots Toyota of Grapevine 12-5
SaturdayWhats Cook-N Chef11-9 Clear Fork Food Park @ 1541 Merrimac Cir, FW11-9 Clear Fork Food Park @ 1541 Merrimac Cir, FW
SundaySunday LunchSunday Dinner
SundayCoolHausKlyde Warren Park 11am-4pm
SundayEasy SliderCandlelight at Dallas Heritage Village 3p-9p
SundayEasy SliderThe Truck Yard (5624 Sears) 11a-9pThe Truck Yard (5624 Sears) 11a-9p
SundayEat Jo DawgsPrivate event (Trophy Club) 11- 3pm
SundayGandolfo’s #1Klyde Warren Park, DallasKlyde Warren Park, Dallas
SundayGandolfo’s #2Private Event 11-4
SundayNammi #1Dallas Klyde Warren Park 11am-6pm
SundayRuthie’s Grilled CheeseCandlelight TOur- Old City ParkPrivate
SundayRuthie’s TooKlyde Warren Park
SundaySalsa LimonTruck YardTruck Yard
SundaySimply DosaFort Worth Food Park 2509 weisenberger stFort Worth Food Park 2509 weisenberger st
SundayTBS 1Klyde Warren Park, DallasKlyde Warren Park, Dallas
SundayTBS 2Private Event 11-5
SundayTrailercakesKlye Warren Park: 11AM – 6PM
SundayWhats Cook-N Chef11-8 Fort Worth Food Park @ 2509 Weisenberger, FW11-8 Fort Worth Food Park @ 2509 Weisenberger, FW
The principle complaints I have about the Athenian Grill’s new brick-and-mortar restaurant are that it’s really hard to park at lunch and that food this good should not be served on paper plates and eaten with plastic cutlery.
Beyond that, in three visits, it was easy to understand how the Athenian Grill had become a local favorite during its food-truck incarnation and why this self-service, informal restaurant in Chevy Chase was packed every time I visited.
With some minor exceptions, the Greek food we sampled there was abundant, reasonably priced and prepared well from quality ingredients.
Truly outstanding were the mousaka — the traditional Greek dish of eggplant, lamb and beef baked with a topping of bechamel sauce — and the Greek beef stew, a flavorful turn on a universal dish, which I had with the excellent roasted lemon potatoes. As a vegetable freak, I especially appreciated the wedges of potato, some with a caramelized finish from the roasting, none burned or overcooked, and subtly flavored so that I enjoyed the lemon but never lost the potato. That said, the beef chunks were good meat — none of the attempts I sometimes find to hide fatty, substandard meat in the mix of a stew — in a tomato sauce that was uniquely Greek.
The mousaka is an absolute delight. Light but substantial, a wonderful blend of several textures and flavors with each still distinct and topped by a wonderful bechamel, not the sticky, heavy attempt that this mixture of flour, butter and cream too often turns into.
No complaints either about the spanikopita, the Greek spinach pie that’s filled with a blend of spinach and feta cheese encased in phyllo dough. Again, the balance was excellent and the individual parts were distinct and flavorful. Less distinctive but still good was the souvlaki, a skewer of marinated pork tenderloin chunks served on a pita.
Athenian Grill’s emphasis on quality meats was also evident in the lamb burger, which is served with tomato and onion. One minor complaint is that the waiter did not ask how we wanted the meat cooked, although it came out as I would have liked, with a little pink in the middle.
On one visit, we tried the lunch special, a chicken cacciatore. Although highly recommended by the staff, I found it a little bland, even sweet. The two appetizers we tried — the roasted red pepper hummus and avgolemono soup — were also acceptable but not impressive. The hummus was a bit too homogenous so that the individual flavors got lost, and for my taste, it should have had more lemon. The soup seemed undistinguished and thin, not the rich mixture that it is at its best. Another point: Serving the soup in a cardboard-like disposable bowl is a downer.
Many dishes are served with a fresh green salad mix, including olives, red onion and feta. It’s a nice counterpoint to the dishes but Athenian might do well to offer a choice of dressings. To my taste, the vinaigrette that is the house standard is too sweet when paired with this rich food.
For dessert, we tried the delightful baklava — highly recommended although one should be enough for anyone.
The building and decor set a nice, if very informal, tone, bridging the gap between owner/chef Ilias Pappas’ earlier incarnation as a food truck to this location. Although very small, there was attention to detail in the renovation that included some nice touches, like using lath pulled from the walls to make cabinets that display Greek food items that are for sale. The upstairs dining space can be reserved by groups for family-style meals that are served at table.
Athenian Grill offers beer but no wine, and there are vegetarian options.
Address: 313 S. Ashland Ave., behind Chevy Chase Coin Laundry
Hours: 10:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Fri.-Sat.
Phone: (859) 303-5048
Other: Parking lot. Many vegetarian options available. Beer served. Soups and salads, $3.50-$6.50; dips and small plates, $4-$10; gyros and sandwiches, $6.50-$9.25; entrees, $7.25-$9.50.
Jacalyn Carfagno: (859) 231-1652.
December 12, 2013, 12:40am
STREET food has evolved from a proliferation of greasy chip vans to the height of gourmet cuisine in a relatively short space of time in the UK.
But strict bylaws banning street trading in many parts of the City of London, mean us City folk often miss out on the gourmet grub.
But KERB, which began life at King’s Cross, has been granted some festive reprieve and following an enforced break from its temporary home at the Gherkin, it’s back today for the second of two Christmas specials, replete with mulled wine as well as the ubiquitous pulled-pork.
KERB had been resident at the Gherkin for nine months until it had a run in with the City of London Corporation in August over planning permission.
“It was a real disappointment to stop in the summer but we’ve make some tweaks, pared back what we’re doing and hopefully, pending a committee meeting at the Corporation we’ll be able to stay,” KERB founder Petra Barren told The Capitalist.
The Capitalist also had a word with the City of London Corporation to get the skinny on KERB’s Gherkin residency.
Apparently, the private land it was operating on didn’t have planning permission for a change of use and the Corporation is considering its new planning application – in the meantime it granted the two special dates as a temporary measure, “in the spirit of Christmas.”
Ahh doesn’t it make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Birmingham Airport opens Asian street food concept Deli Hub
Source: ©The Moodie Report
By Helen Pawson
UK. Birmingham Airport has added to its food beverage offer with the opening of Deli Hub, an outlet serving Asian street food.
Deli Hub, an extension of well-established Birmingham based Kababish restaurants, boasts a Halal menu and sub-continent street food classics such as pakoras and samosas. Passengers can also create their own deli naan wraps with a wide range of fillings to choose from.
Birmingham Airport Commercial Director Martyn Lloyd said: “We’re pleased to welcome Deli Hub to Birmingham Airport, which I’m sure will prove to be tremendously popular with our passengers, especially for those who like their food a little bit spicy.
“We hope the Asian inspired decor and authentic street food menu will create an exciting atmosphere inside the terminal. The great tasting food will speak for itself.”
Kababish Managing Director Sydd Sadiq commented: “Deli Hub is a new and exciting concept for us, featuring some of the dishes and ingredients that have become so popular at our Kababish restaurants in Moseley and Sutton Coldfield. We’re delighted about this latest venture with Birmingham Airport and we have every confidence Deli Hub will be a big success here.”
Deli Hub is located inside the terminal and is open seven days a week between 10am and 10pm.
For more information, please visit www.delihub.co.uk.
Pasta tosses up in the air and lands perfectly in the pan. Sparks of fire fly from the charcoal furnace and gradually melt the grated cheese. Bubbling and bursting, the cheese blends with the gravy, veggies peep out from the sizzling pan, and the air filled with its aroma, pulls people from all over the city and beyond to this pasta haven, near the World Trade Center in Mumbai.
Cars of all sizes cover the entire stretch of this usually quiet lane at Cuffe Parade on Sundays, when it is abuzz with hungry voices placing orders and people crowding around the open kitchen.
Manoj Gupta’s stall serves a variety of pastas (in macaroni and penne), pizzas (on bread and khichya papad), maggi and corn. He was the first hawker in Mumbai to serve Italian, and the rare street-delight, Mongolian pasta. How did he come up with it? Well, in 2005, Gupta put up a hot corn stall at a wedding, which had a grand spread of diverse cuisines and fusion foods, including Mongolian pasta. He didn’t like its bland taste, but realising it was a ‘hit’ with guests, he decided to introduce it at his street stall, although with a difference.
“Maine pasta mein apne tarike se masala dala aur hamare regular customers ko bahut pasand aaya” he had told me the first time I ate there.
Even after all these years, I haven’t come across Mongolian pasta in restaurants; his spicy version consisting of finely diced cabbage and bell peppers, seasoned with oregano, paprika and secret flavours continues to be a favourite among many.
In a proud moment, Gupta once told me, “Koi ek bar idhar khata hain to zaroor wapas aata hain.” Although he passed away over a year ago, his wife Rakhi Gupta and five sons carry on his legacy.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
A Norwich slimmer is feeling ale and hearty after banishing his beer belly by losing 10st in weight in the space of only 15 months.
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Paul Barrett, after his weight loss, enjoys a pint at the Trafford Arms
Real ale fan Paul Barrett, 45, shed the pounds with help from Bignold Slimming World group, tightening his buckle from a belt-bursting 52-inch waist to a trim 36ins in only 15 months.
But the Norwich software engineer has still been able to enjoy his daily pint – as well as attending beer festivals across the country.
Mr Barrett, who lives in Brunswick Road, said: “I love my beer and I’m a member of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). I visit quite a few beer festivals every year and was worried that joining Bignold Slimming World would mean the end of my real ale hobby.
“Amazingly, it hasn’t. I’ve been able to incorporate some beer into my Slimming World healthy eating plan and have still managed to lose weight successfully and dramatically.
“So I’ve really been enjoying the best of both worlds and am absolutely delighted.”
Mr Barrett, a regular at the city’s Trafford Arms pub who has worked in IT at Aviva for 25 years, and who trains at Dynamic Fitness in Ber Street, has always struggled with his weight.
He said: “I remember being overweight at primary school – we did a project where we graphed out the heights and weights of everyone in our class and I was the heaviest by quite a large amount.
“As an adult, I was putting on about half a stone a year and feared that I would reach 30st at the age of 50, with all the associated medical problems.
“Before my GP referred me to Slimming World, I would often pop to my local corner shop if I had no food in the house and buy rubbish– crisps, biscuits and ice-cream – before going home and eating the lot.
“The Slimming World eating plan is really easy to follow and, of course, far healthier.”
Since starting to lose weight, he has become more active – with hobbies including personal training sessions, circuit training and power walking.
“I can now run without getting out of breath and, in September, I successfully completed a hill running event in Norwich, running up the very steep Southgate Lane three times. I felt so proud when I collected my medal at the end.”
Karen Curtis, the consultant who runs the group, said: “Paul is clearly very sociable and, like many of his friends, has a passion for real ale.
“He has demonstrated, however, that you really can enjoy what you eat and drink as part of the Slimming World plan – and still have remarkable, life-changing weight losses.”
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A close look at the lives of two pushcart owners — the bitter competition, the passion for their craft, and their relentless will to succeed.
Andrey Babaev and fellow co founder, Aryat Muleev, own Crepes and Waffles, a waffle and crepe specialty pushcart that brings accessible, delicious French cuisine to the streets of New York City. Around Columbus Circle at 59th Street, you can find these two broad shouldered-Russian immigrants inside of their vendor’s truck, pouring secret mixes onto a flatiron or waffle press, and finely crafting your meal with traditional wooden tools. Always smiling and engaging with customers, it is hard to believe these men face a constant and frequently dangerous battle: competing with other food vendors.
“We tried a bunch of times, like in the Rockefeller Center and Times Square. But it’s a community of [older street vendors] and they do not let us stay there. They know the very good corners.”
After creating our lunch, two crepes covered in chocolate and strawberries, Andrey shared the experience of life on the other side of the counter. He told me about migrating to America, “Because of ‘The Dream.’ The American Dream,” and the challenges he faced, arriving without a word of English.
We talked about his meager beginnings as a pedicab driver. Mr. Babaev described having nothing: how pedicabs funded his first year in New York, and how he created a network that became the foundation for a future in entrepreneurship. He told me about beginning as a renter of one cart, and eventually making enough to buy and then rent out four.
“My first time in New York, I was walking in Central Park and I met people who spoke Russian. They said they used to work in the pedicab. And they said it’s a good job; you work on your own. There’s no boss, there’s no owner. You’re the owner.”
From here, Andrey said he connected with Aryat, who was also a pedicab driver, and they decided to take the next step, apparently as many other pedicab drivers do, into street vending.
“We’re cooking on the table and people see how we cook. We don’t [pre-make] — they see what we do and they know it is fresh. They see what they’re going to eat. That’s quality.”
Andrey described the day-to-day, beginning work at 5 a.m. on weekdays; and on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, they are there until 4 a.m. He told me about the lines of eager customers that frequently run down the street. And then I learned of the less tasteful side of street food.
He told me about a longtime rivalry amongst all of the pushcart vendors, and how certain ones maintain their control of the boroughs. There is an unwritten rule that permits only the oldest street food companies to sell on the most trafficked, or best streets. If any new vendors break these rules, as Andrey and Aryat unwittingly did in their first months of business, they face the wrath of the entire community.
“You see this corner?” Andrey pointed across the street as we sat and ate, “It’s only [a Halal vendor] who have been there for 20 years. If we try to stay there, he will come with his family and do something to us. It’s everywhere we try to stand. All the good spots.”
“It was the beginning of November, and we had found a very good spot. It was available, nobody stayed there, and we came with our pushcart. We put our pushcart on the sidewalk but… [older vendors] came and said, ‘You have to leave this place because this is our space.’ We said, ‘We found available spots over here.’ They said, ‘No, leave it, If you don’t leave it, you’re going to have problems.’ Then they came with about 20 people, and we had to leave.
The men have literally been driven off of sidewalks by the families of their competition. This forces them to locate less trafficked, but much safer areas.
Right now, they stick to Manhattan, mainly Columbus Circle, where they rent sidewalk space per day by a third party landowner. And after many years of struggle, they are finally making it.
“Many people think they’re going to stay here and make a lot of money, but for some people, it’s [too] hard. America, it’s only for the strong… You know, we had a lot of friends who came here and then left. We do not leave.”
From landing in America without a word of English, to driving pedicabs through harsh NYC seasons, to becoming entrepreneurs and opening Waffles and Crepes, and fiercely competing with other street food vendors, these men have truly proven what it means to live — and survive — the American Dream. I asked them what they learned despite all of these challenges, and what five tips they could share with would-be entrepreneurs:
“1) Never give up. Every time you fail, define it as a learning experience, and regroup and start again
2) Do the research on your business. Crepes and Waffles spent the first several months learning the business and getting the sign right.
3) Focus on a self-seller. Andrey and Aryat’s special recipes melt in a person’s mouth — they organically attract people.
4) Learn your costs. The founders know all of their costs, including both food supply and labor.
5) Get the location right. They have acquired one of the best, safest locations for a pushcart in Manhattan.”
In the future, Andrey and Aryat dream of starting their own franchise of Waffles and Crepes pushcarts. “With the pushcarts, we are trying to recreate the city — to give more food, to give different food, to make everything great. I mean — it makes the city much better. Clean and beautiful.”
I am forever cheering for Andrey and Aryat. They both have a passion not only for small business, but also for creating an experience — showing New Yorkers what it is like to eat a delicious European meal, just as they would overseas. As they have demonstrated through entrepreneurship and ownership, anyone has the potential to become a business owner, and to succeed as an independent person in America!
Special thanks to Maya Horgan for helping research and edit this story.
Above: Rapscallion Honey, an extra pale ale infused with wild flower honey. Steven King/Worcester Magazine
Beer. It’s an evocative four-letter word. In recent years, its association has transformed from lawnmower 30-packs and raging collegiate keggers into a narrative of complexity, region and passion.
People do not necessarily think of Milwaukee or an ice-cold longneck anymore when they hear the b- word, instead, the brewpub down the street or the amiable brewer who fills your growler at the source might come to mind. Craft beer is no longer the realm of hobbyists and geeks, it is an integral element of American drinking culture and its popularity has exploded in the past several years.
It seems new breweries are popping up every day and brewers all over the country are getting increasingly creative in search of their own niche in the market. And while Central Massachusetts might not have the legendary beer-mecca status of Colorado or San Diego, the 2010s have been kind to craft beer lovers in the area thus far. It’s easy to get the feeling that it’s only the beginning.
PART OF THE COMMUNITY
Alec Lopez, owner of Worcester’s Dive Bar and Armsby Abbey, says that a decade ago, access to craft beer in Worcester was nonexistent, though the movement was beginning to sweep the country.
“At the beginning times that we were doing this, craft beer was trending up anyway. We just happened to sneak in right ahead of the curve, so we had all the momentum in the world around us and in the marketplace, so it wasn’t such a foreign object. It was kind of being pushed nationally and worldwide at that point, so it was almost like riding a wave.”
Both the Dive Bar and Armsby Abbey serve as galleries for rare and high-quality brews and Lopez brought it all to Worcester after traveling to beer festivals in Europe and developing relationships with brewers and distributors. Making a unique drinking experience available to people in the area is the foundation of what both places do, and Lopez credits his success to a no-compromise approach to selling the world’s greatest beers. After the success of the Dive Bar, Lopez took things one step further. “Armsby was born out of the need to put what we had created at the Dive into a better surrounding and have food and just push it further,” he says. Armsby Abbey now features a brand new kitchen and an expanded dining room, as of the first week of December. “We’re growing like crazy right now,” says Lopez.
Above: A list of beers on tap at Armsby Abbey in Worcester. Steven King/Worcester Magazine
Lopez isn’t the only one in town experiencing the need to grow. Ben Roesch, founder and master brewer of Wormtown Brewery, has been brewing professionally since 2001 and opened Wormtown in 2010. The demand for his beer was immediate. “We would have built it bigger if we had seen it coming, but it really outstripped our wildest imaginations of what we could do,” he says. The brewery is about to relocate to a much bigger space at 72 Shrewsbury St., in the old Buick building that houses Volturno, Sweet, The Hidden Jewel and Worcester Magazine. “We needed a bigger spot in order to make more beer, is really the short of it,” says Roesch. The move will allow the brewery to offer tours and a tasting room.
Beer tourism is something that Roesch would like to bring to Central Massachusetts. He notes that with the economy still creating problems for many, people are not as willing to drop their savings on a week in the Caribbean, but a day trip to the local brewery might be an affordable and enlightening adventure. “Going to the brewery is a cool way to get out for the day or the afternoon and check out something different, see how something is made locally,” he says, adding that before he was a professional brewer, he would always seek out local breweries while on vacation. “Beer is an affordable luxury,” he says.
A tasting room on the premises allows drinkers to experience beer right at the source, but it can also give the brewers an easy test audience. Cedric Daniel, co-owner of Rapscallion Brewery in Fiskdale, says tastings are a great addition to the brewery experience.
Located at Hyland Orchard, Rapscallion offers tours and tastings every weekend and also operates the tap room on weekday evenings Tuesday through Friday. “We are able to ‘test’ beers out in the tap room before we decide to make them public,” says Daniel. “We are also able to be more creative and free with our brewing, with very small batches for the tap room – as we know our regulars and visitors are more apt to try different recipes right from the sources, versus at restaurants and bars out and about.”
This accessibility is huge. Like most craftspeople, brewers are always eager to talk about their work and for the curious and adventurous drinker, it’s easy to get your questions answered. “I think that’s definitely been one of the keys to us growing so quickly,” says Roesch. “I mean, you call, you get me on the phone. I’m answering the phone. You walk in the door and want to talk to me, there’s not like eight people you have to go through, half the time it’s me there. I don’t see that changing too much and I think that’s a real positive thing. I think it kind of resonates with people, especially when we’re talking about being part of the community.
A THIRST FOR FREEDOM
One attraction to craft beer and its consumption and production is that it lends itself to independence. There’s a certain amount of freedom to be had with a variety of choices, and certainly a bit of adventure to be found in the abundant selections available to consumers. Jonathan Cook, author of “Beer Terrain,” a new book that details the use of locally-sourced ingredients in Massachusetts brewing, places a lot of weight on personal choice. “It’s people doing what they want to do,” he says, speaking of hop farmers and breweries like Wormtown. “The way they do things is their own. They’re their own bosses and they do it according to their own conscience.”
Cook, a longtime brewer and beer aficionado, is driven by a desire for discovery. “I’m just naturally curious, and being a homebrewer I’m very curious about what’s in beer,” he says. “Brewpubs and tasting rooms in breweries… those are my favorite places in the world because they know so much about it and you can see how it’s made.”
And when it comes to how it’s made, there are the basics and then there are the flourishes, which can be unexpected and sometimes downright surprising. Water and malt form the backbone of any beer, and hops are important to the flavor, smell and level of bitterness, but many people are not content to stop there. It is this intrinsic curiosity and need for adventure that lures people to craft beer and keeps them drinking it. Brewers are no different. For Roesch, one such impromptu detour began when he saw a bizarre fruit in his mother-in-law’s house.
“She had a Buddha’s hand in her fruit basket, it’s a lemony-looking fruit in the citrus family with little fingers on it. I was asking about it – I’d never seen one before – and she was telling me about how there’s no fruit in there, it’s just all pit and zest and you cut it up and use it in a salad or steep it in hot water in tea, and I was just thinking, ‘man, that would go great in so many different beers that I already make. A citrus would complement something that already had citrus flavors from American hops.’” Last year the brewery produced two batches of Buddha’s Juice, a double IPA brewed with Buddha’s hand and grapefruit peel, and they plan to do it again this year.
Rail Trail Flatbread Company Bar Manager Rui Silva agrees with the need for adventure, and accordingly, rotates the taps at the Hudson restaurant and bar as often as possible, sometimes daily. He says it’s all about trying something new and he strives to make this part of the experience. “When someone comes in here and they say, ‘I’ve never seen any of these beers before,’ it’s the best. That’s what we’re going for,” Silva says. “We get really excited because now we can introduce you to something new. We like being that place where it kind of challenges and introduces new flavors at the same time.”
Above: An array of beer offered at Rail Trail Flatbread Company in Hudson. Steven King/Worcester Magazine
Cook, a dedicated homebrewer, credits happenstance and experimentation with broadening his palate, and for him, this is part of the attraction to drinking beer. “I drink beer because I love the flavor, but my taste buds change, so I tend to do a little bit of experimenting sometimes with brewing. For example, I made a beer with lavender because I had extra lavender that year. This late summer I harvested a huge crop of hops, so I brewed with heavy doses of hops. Prior to that, I’d never been a giant IPA fan, I’d enjoyed maltier beers. But as a homebrewer, it really got me acclimated to that huge flavor and lately, I’ve been buying nothing but IPAs.”
DO IT YOURSELF
It is this desire for experimentation and adventure that is bringing more and more people to the world of homebrewing. For many, homebrewing is the logical next step in their own explorations of beer, and for aspiring beer wizards in Worcester County, there’s no need to travel far.
The West Boylston Homebrew Emporium carries everything one needs to brew beer and a wide range of ingredients to make the possibilities seem literally endless. In business since 1999, the Homebrew Emporium caters to brewers old and new. “We have a diverse group of people that shop here,” says Manager Patrick Gouin. “There’s still the ‘old-school’ brewers that have been doing this for decades now and who helped pave the way, but there’s plenty of young people deeply interested in the hobby, myself included.”
M4: Mid-Mass Malt Masters is a homebrew club that the store started in March of this year. Open to anyone, the club meets monthly and has grown from three founding members to about 20 core members in just nine months, with a dozen more drifting in and out periodically.
“People get into homebrewing for a plethora of reasons,” says Gouin. “A lot of people just love craft beer and say ‘I can do that!’ Some treat it as a hobby, while others might be aspiring to start their own breweries someday. I think it’s safe to say that all of us enjoy doing it and sharing what we’ve made with others.”
Gouin sees a bright future for craft beer in Central Massachusetts. With so many breweries and beer bars appearing in the area over the last several years, he has seen a large departure from the macro lager beers that have dominated the landscape for so long. “There’s still plenty of room for growth in our area and I definitely see it coming,” he adds.
Gouin and the folks at the Emporium, like many others involved in the local beer industry, make an effort to give back to their community and to make beer a communal staple. The store raises money for the Worcester County Food Bank at least twice a year by holding brewing events. “For the American Homebrewers Association’s National Homebrew Day and Learn to Brew Day, we invite local brewers to set up in our parking lot and brew batches of beer,” he says. They provide batches of ingredients in exchange for a small cash or food donation.
Homebrewed beer and the people who make it can do a whole lot to form the beer landscape; it’s how many professional brewers get their start. Jim Koch, the founder of Sam Adams, and Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head Brewing, are both titans in the American beer industry. Both started in their own kitchens, brewing five gallons at a time on the stovetop and fermenting in buckets.
In his seminal homebrewing book “The Joy of Homebrewing,” brew guru Charlie Papazian says, “Traditional beer styles go in and out of favor with consumers. When they are rediscovered, homebrewers tend to be their champions.” Gouin agrees with Papazian. “For example, a style such as Gose, which is an old German style of wheat beer with light spices and salt added, has been making a resurgence,” he says. “Most of the credit there is due to homebrewers.”
A PIECE OF MASS
In the past several years, the popularity of local foods, local ingredients and farm-to-table restaurants has exploded. The “buy local” sentiment is beyond trendy at this point and has become a commonplace mantra for small businesses and the people who support them. For some involved in the Central Massachusetts craft beer industry, it’s a no brainer and something of a mission statement, but for others, it isn’t so simple.
“You know, local doesn’t mean good, and I try to get people to understand that all the time,” says Lopez. “We have a lot of breweries in Massachusetts, but we have very few producing good beer, so if there is a local beer and it happens to be really good then yes, that’s as good as it gets for us. That’s what we really try to celebrate.”
Above: Sara Sorola, a bartender at Armsby Abby, pours a Union Jack IPA brewed at Firestone Walker in California. Steven King/Worcester Magazine
Silva acknowledges the desire to support local breweries, citing both Jack’s Abbey in Framingham and Wormtown in Worcester as breweries they feature semi-regularly, but says limiting beer options to locally-produced suds can be detrimental. “At the end of the day, we just want really good beer,” he says. “I feel like sometimes having that pressure to be a place where you only carry local beers, while it’s great, sometimes it can hinder the experience. I think, why not put on a great beer, like a Firestone Union Jack from California? Why shouldn’t I be able to do that? I think that being tied down to just local beers does a disservice to the customer.”
Roesch, as a brewery owner, doesn’t have to decide whose beers to serve – they’re all his. And when there is access to locally-produced ingredients, he doesn’t think twice. In 2010, Valley Malt began malting barley grown in Western Mass., becoming the first malthouse east of the Mississippi. Roesch bought their entire first batch. “We opened up in early 2010, and all you could do at that point was use what I call typical, not-that-hard-to-get brewing ingredients that are local: pumpkin, blueberries, maple syrup, honey,” Roesch says. “It was a lot harder to get the more traditional brewing ingredients, barley, wheat, hops. The real component that was missing was the malting.”
In late 2010, Wormtown brewed their first batch of MassWhole Ale with grains and hops exclusively from within the state. “Once we were able to do that, we committed to putting one Mass.-grown ingredient in every beer we make,” says Roesch. Thus, Wormtown’s tagline, “A Piece of Mass in Every Glass.”
Roesch, echoing Silva’s sentiment, admits that the most important thing for consumers is, above all else, the quality of the beer. “You’re always going to have people that are concerned with supporting local businesses, especially other people that are involved in local businesses,” he says. “I think it’s a bonus for people who just like good beer, but it’s something that is important to me and Wormtown Brewery and I think the freshness of local ingredients adds to the quality of Wormtown Brewery beer.”
Daniel agrees that keeping the brewery sustainable and local is important to Rapscallion’s mission. The brewery even sources their tap handles from a Rhode Island company that makes them by hand, and further, gets the honey for their flagship ale, Honey, from a local honey farmer. “We are also draft-only and anticipate to can a few of our products, both vessels being as sustainable for the environment and community as possible,” Daniel adds.
TRADITIONS OLD AND NEW
Cook has lived and brewed in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, but asserts that Massachusetts stands out in its own way. He says that while many of the breweries in other parts of New England still adhere to an English style of brewing, brewers in Massachusetts are forging their own ground. “In Massachusetts, I think there’s been a little more creativity,” he says. “There’s this definitive Mass. sort of style; it’s very broad but it’s not pure English. It touches on a lot of things, and a lot of it is original to the brewers.”
Rapscallion, on the other hand, offers Harvard Lager, a beer that relies on a recipe from another time. The brewery acquired the Harvard Brewing brands, originally from Lowell and started in 1898, in a 2008 ownership transition. “We chose to brew some of their recipes to honor the tradition of brewing in the state,” says Daniel. “The lager is also a great tasting session beer (in layman’s terms: a beer you can drink a whole bunch of without getting completely sloshed) so we wanted to make this history in brewing available for craft drinkers.” At this point, Harvard Lager has been brewed and consumed at various times in three consecutive centuries.
Above: Rapscallion brewers Jonas Noble and Shaun Radzuik clean the fermentation vessels. Steven King/Worcester Magazine
The brewery’s flagship ale, Honey, is an extra pale ale made with local honey and Daniel semi-jokingly refers to it as their “transition beer.” “We bring it to family gatherings and convert our uncles who drink macros,” he laughs. Having something for everyone is important to the brewers at Rapscallion and though their line includes a very robust porter and a dark and bitter black IPA, they are not afraid to include lighter, more accessible beers. Daniel notes that simplicity can go a long way, as can a lack of pretension. “We’re all in this together,” he adds.
Jennifer Wright, general manager of Brew City in Worcester, has seen the range of people seeking craft brews explode firsthand and agrees that the importance of catering to everyone is paramount for a beer bar. “We have a huge client base, from students to people that have known this family for decades,” Wright says.
While noting that some of her regulars will never stray far from what they know and love, Wright says occasionally a hardcore macro drinker will give a microbrew a whirl. The two are not mutually exclusive, after all, and a wider variety of drinkers are warming the barstools these days. “We have a lot of regular loyal customers and some of them, all they want to drink is Coors Light,” she says. “That’s fine. We have that for you. But more and more, as craft beer gets bigger, there’s another huge market and generation that’s coming into beer. So many more women are drinking craft beer. Why not have something for everybody?”
As for craft beer’s popularity, Roesch attributes it to the way the current generation of drinkers has been raised, as well as the human tendency to identify with brands and regions.
“If you like West Coast beer, maybe you’re from the West Coast and you’re holding that torch while you’re out on the East Coast and vice versa,” Roesch says. “I think it has a lot to do with identity and I think also the generations of people that are coming up now that are starting to drink beer are exposed to their parents being craft beer drinkers. So now the kids that are younger than me, I’m 35, their parents were drinking Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada. It’s already part of their life, whereas that was a slow thing that was happening through the ’80s and ’90s, transitioning from imports to microbrews.”
BRINGING IT HOME
The variety and quality of craft beer is as variable as the day is long, and with the flavor of a new beer being as unpredictable as the availability of a rare one, the way people drink is evolving. “The mass market drinker will put down four to six factory beers in a pretty short amount of time and in our world, people are having two, maybe three in a very long, relaxed period of time,” says Lopez. “It feels like a higher level of socializing. [The beer] is such a huge conversation piece, especially when you’re dealing with such rarities that we are where they have tremendous backstories. It’s the experience of getting your hands on it, or how the beer was made.”
Above: Rose D’Errico, bartender at the Dive Bar, pours an Oude Tart brewed in California by The Bruery. Steven King/Worcester Magazine
When planning Rail Trail Flatbread Co., the owners looked to the town’s history. According to Silva, the local library and town hall were as important as the tasting sessions in the research phase of the project. The restaurant is named for the rail line that was once an integral part of the town’s economy. “They picked that name to kind of symbolize what they were trying to do, which is bring something new into the town and to revitalize it a little bit and to get everybody on board,” he says. “We love to be able to support the town.”
“I grew up in and around Worcester, and it was a dream of mine to open up a brewery in Worcester,” says Roesch. When he started brewing professionally 12 years ago, he says he could already see the potential in the region, but Central Massachusetts had a giant hole in it. A few smaller breweries, including Main Street Brewing Company downtown, have come and gone in recent years, while a few breweries outside of Worcester, like Berkshire Brewing Company and Wachusett, have managed to carry the torch. As the second largest city in New England, Roesch says Worcester “deserves four or five breweries at a minimum. Look at Portland, Oregon. Look at some areas in New Hampshire or Vermont. I’m still waiting for the next two or three to open up along with us and really make Worcester a destination for some of that beer tourism, more than just us.”
On a recent Saturday afternoon in early December, in the 1940s-era farmhouse cellar at Hyland Orchard, Daniel pulls a sample of a new experiment straight from the fermenter. “It needs something,” he says with a grin. “We’re just not sure what.” On the other side of the Rapscallion cellar, small amounts of it sit in airlocked growlers, steeping in oak chips and other undisclosed elements. After several years of tenant and contract brewing, Rapscallion has found a home in the former digs of Pioneer Brewing, and Pioneer owner and brewer Todd Sullivan now shares space with Daniel and his crew, having switched to tenant brewer.
Through a swinging door, the taproom slowly fills with frozen disc golfers. Sullivan pulls himself a pint and ribs his buddies for their poor performance on the course. The bartender gives a little girl a juice box from the kids’ cooler, and a couple of dogs wander through the crowd. Glasses filled from the array of 14 taps, eight Rapscallion and six Pioneer quickly begin to cover the handful of wooden tables and Jon Short sets up in the corner and begins his familiar pick-and-stomp. It’s a down-home afternoon, and Daniel likes it that way. A test kitchen should be comfortable, after all, and he has a room full of willing subjects here. With everything from a tried-and-true (and evidently quite popular) Honey Ale to a porter that’s less than a month out of the gate, it’s almost hard to decide where to start.
“We don’t rely on this 100 percent, but it’s a nice plus,” says Daniel of the tap room, before leading a small group of people through the swinging door on an impromptu tour. Huge steins from the 150-member-strong mug club begin vacating the shelf in increasing numbers. Daniel returns, surveying the room with beer in hand. Rapscallion’s “transition beer” is going down surprisingly pleasantly, lacking the syrupy sweetness one might expect from a honey ale, instead offering a thorough afternoon crispness. According to Daniel, it’s all about getting people in the door and giving them something exciting to drink. And from the looks of the room, it’s working.
From the author of “Beer Terrain,” find the blog of Jon Cook at beerterrain.blogspot.com.
From two employees at the West Boylston Emporium, find reviews, tutorials and more on the art of brewing at TheBeerFiles.com.
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