Browsing articles in "food cart"
Apr 24, 2014
Jim Benson

BBQ Food Cart has Customers Lining up on the Downtown Mall

As the weather gets warmer, the list of food options on Charlottesville’s downtown mall grows – and this spring, a one-man barbecue business taking the food scene by storm.

It’s called Smoked Bbq Co. The owner and cook, Justin van der Linde, sets up his cart on the downtown mall four days a week, and customers keep coming back.

For van der Linde, getting to know his customers never gets old.

“I like talking to people, interacting with all different types of people so it’s really a joy,” said van der Linde.

He sees a lot of people in his second year setting up his one-man barbecue business on the downtown mall.

“Barbeque’s always been a passion and street food’s really cool because you can go right to your customer,” said van der Linde.

Customers line up for the pork, the chicken, the sauces and the mac cheese. Van der Linde makes it all himself, every day, from scratch.

Van der Linde sets up shop on the mall four days a week. On the other days he’s catering – everything from weddings to tailgates. During the colder months, van der Linde packs up and heads to Colorado.

“I have a little skiing problem, so I like to ski through the winter months if I can,” he said.

But with his lunch crowd booming this spring, he says it all comes back to the food.

“If you offer a good product at a good price hopefully the rest will take care of itself,” he said.

Van der Linde says business is so good he’s already getting requests for catering over Christmas, so he may have to cut his ski trip short this winter.

You can find Smoked Bbq Co. on the downtown mall Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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Apr 23, 2014
Jim Benson

I Don’t Give A Fork Expands Food Cart to Fully Loaded Food Truck

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I Don’t Give A Fork Food Truck

It is a million times better and easier now… and because of the increased room and business, I was able to hire employees!

Newark, Delaware (PRWEB) April 23, 2014

New breakfast and lunch options are now readily available to University of Delaware students, faculty, and nearby surrounding areas. Exactly one month ago, I Don’t Give A Fork rolled out its new enhancements. The once food cart is now a completely upgraded and redesigned 18’ diesel food truck. After all the renovations, it is now fully loaded with all the bells and whistles necessary to prep, store, and serve various breakfast and lunch options on a bi-weekly rotating menu.

On the recent expansion Leigh Ann explains, “It is a million times better and easier now… and because of the increased room and business, I was able to hire employees!”

Owner, Leigh Ann Tona, originally came up with the business idea from the lack of variety in available food options around the campus. After winning the Business Idea Pitch competition at University of Delaware back in November 2011, she decided to put her idea into motion. While creating the menu, Leigh Ann kept everyday workers and students in mind, who are constantly on-the-go and too busy to sit down for a meal. And thus, the name I Don’t Give a Fork was born – delicious and easy-to-eat food with no forks needed! Now after a year and a half of serving hungry students and faculty, the food cart has been upgraded to a 18’ diesel food truck. Upgrading to a fully loaded food truck gave Leigh Ann the opportunity to no longer be restricted to a stationary cart, but instead start traveling to various businesses several times a week to serve breakfast and lunch to hungry employees.

I Don’t Give a Fork’s reopening has generated such a huge response in the Delaware community; it’s safe to say utensils won’t be necessary on campus for the foreseeable future.

At I Don’t Give A Fork, you will find not only high-quality ingredients in all the food items, but also personality! Some fun favorites is the signature sandwich the Mac Cheesesteak – a Philly steak with grilled onions and macaroni and cheese mixed in, and the Vermonter, sliced ham, zesty honey mustard, sharp white cheddar, and homemade sweet apple slaw. Since the menu rotates every two weeks, you won’t see the same items on it often so be sure to visit the food truck frequently and try all the new food items!

To help make the expansion process easier, Leigh Ann reached out to Vending Trucks, Inc., a food truck fabrication company located in East Brunswick, NJ. Vending Trucks specializes in custom designing food trucks and mobile kitchens, targeting entrepreneurs and businesses seeking advertising, event marketing, or expansion needs through the use of a food truck or mobile kitchen. After finding the food truck to best fit Leigh Ann’s needs, the company completely built out and fabricated the vehicle with her specifications in mind. One custom feature of this 18’ food truck is the security awning, which adds protection for the vehicle and equipment as well as extra branding space. Vending Trucks, Inc. offers custom design options like graphic vinyl wrapping, fabricating, and endless commercial kitchen equipment selections.

Check out I Don’t Give a Fork’s Facebook and Twitter pages for information on events the food truck will be attending or sign up to have breakfast or lunch served at your office on a semi-regular basis!

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Apr 22, 2014
Jim Benson

What’s it like to own a food cart in Portland?

6-11-13-gresham food carts

PORTLAND, Ore. (The Tribune) – High quality food. Working smart. Customer love.

Portland is a food cart capital with local food cart entrepreneurs offering a wide variety of quality fare.

In addition to high quality food and sincere customer service, good reasons a food cart business has the potential for success in Portland are the non-extreme weather and a food culture that embraces diversity. Cart food is interesting, convenient and, depending on the cart, can be better quality and value than traditional food outlets. It’s a fairly good bet that most every ethnic, fusion or home-style-favorite food is served out of a cart somewhere in Portland. And if that bet is lost – run out quick and start a new cart.

Profit in the Portland food cart business is pivotal on demographics, efficiency, food quality, uniqueness, and personality. Huong Tran has worked her downtown cart Saigon Food To-Go for 14 years, and with the profits from that one cart she is able to put her three sons through college.  During Saigon Food To-Go’s 14 years, Tran has developed a strong customer base. Her food is consistent and her smile is always gracious. She pointed out that the food cart business has greatly expanded since she started, especially the last two to three years.

When she first started there were seven carts at her location. Now there are 26. Her advice for someone starting a new food cart is to first carefully study the demographics. Downtown Portland is busy and there is a lot of foot traffic, a lot of people pouring out of office buildings to find a good meal. John Lee, owner of Bulkogi Fusion, said about 80 percent of his business is done during lunch hours.

Lee started Bulkogi Fusion four years ago. He said that so far it’s “not really good money.” He definitely sees a good future so he is opening a second cart in Northeast Portland.

“Treat everyone personally,” Lee advised, adding, “Be a little commercialized.”

Much of the work Lee does himself, and during busy hours he has part-time employees. In the mornings Lee gets to his cart about 9 a.m. and leaves in the evenings about 6 p.m. During the day, before his employees leave, he is often able to take off for two to three hours. Later in the evenings he works at home for two to three hours preparing food to take to the cart.

Tran said that between the work she does at the cart and the work she does at home, she averages 55 to 60 hours a week. Her part-time employee is at the cart 20 hours a week. Tran’s Saigon Food To-Go is not open on weekends much of the year but she does work weekends during busy summer months.

Sunny Souriyavong has owned her downtown cart, Sawasdee Thai Food, for 12 years.

“In high school I worked fast food at a Weiner Schnitzel,” she said. “I always wanted to open a hot dog cart. I didn’t know how to cook Thai food until I learned from my roommate.”

Since opening her Thai food cart, she recalls when she first started there were some days when her total gross was only $50 to $60. Soon after opening she got a reputation for her Pad Thai, and a year later she was able to upgrade from a Class III cart to a Class IV cart that allows much more cooking. Since then, Souriyavong and her part-time employees perform all food preparations at the cart. She gets there in the mornings at 9 a.m. and leaves in the evenings between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. Her roommate runs a second cart in Northwest Portland. Souriyavong said that they make “good money.”

Sourivayong places strong emphasis on working smart. For instance, when she cuts onions she cuts enough for two to three days; it’s too time consuming to prepare everything, everyday.

“If you work at a station, know where everything is and keep it in efficient order,” she said. “You have to know your things and work smart.”

Another of her tips is to keep the cart as clean as possible and to keep cleaning during the day. Not only is it more appealing to customers, it’s a better place to work in and at the end of the day there’s not another two hours of cleaning that has to be done before going home. Tran said the health department is very strict so it’s important to treat the food cart like a full size restaurant and to carefully follow all the rules.

An average start-up investment, with a used Class IV cart ready to go with propane cooker, prep tables, refrigerator, water heater, sink and grey water tank, plus licensing, but not including insurance, rent, cooking and serving utensils, and food, is $15,000 to $20,000.

“Rent per month goes up every one to two years,” said Tran.

Insurance needs and premiums vary widely so it is important to get quotes. Monthly space rent around Portland varies from approximately $425 to $700.  Annual licensing and Health Department fees run about $1,100. Plus, if food is prepared or stored at home or another location there are additional licensing and inspection fees. More costs to factor in are propane and the removal of grey water.

“The health department is very strict on grey water removal,” said Tran. Add maintenance costs in to those expenses, and there’s another $1,000 to $2,000 annually.

Having chef’s training is not necessary but a good knowledge of food and bulk production is important. Self-employment and small business experience is a plus. Studying demographics and government requirements and law is necessary. Being keen on what people like and trends in food and service, and being flexible are essential. Food costs can be ruinously high, so extremely careful planning, menu selections and pricing are crucial.

“The easiest way to cook for taste is frying and grilling,” said Lee, “but the worst for health.”

Consequently, Lee is firm in his integrity of serving unique food combinations that give excellent taste and that are made of healthy, fresh ingredients.

This insistence for unique, exceptional taste and quality demands added hours of preparation and higher food costs, but seeing Bulkogi Fusion’s customer base and loyalty grow is the long-term payoff. When he first started he offered a bibimbap burrito that got a hot response, but competitors copied his menu using lesser ingredients and lower prices. Since then he has developed new fusion foods that are becoming increasing popular, and that other cart owners are unable to copy.

Souriyavong has found the food cart business to be a very good experience.  She, Tran and Lee each believe success is attributable to high quality, unique food, being personable and trying to make everyone happy.

“They’re not customers, they’re friends,” said Souriyavong. “Some come two and three times a week.”

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Apr 19, 2014
Jim Benson

Homeless man thwarts food cart robbery

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A local who regularly donates extra meals to those in need was rewarded when a homeless man reported a robbery at his food cart.

When a woman broke into Gharib Abb’s Elmasry food cart near SW 3rd Ave. and Washington St. early Friday morning, a man sleeping nearby called Abb at home.

“He comes here sometimes, I feed him, take care of him.”

“He was my hero this morning, I gave him a $20 reward,” he said.

“As soon as he found out someone had broken through the door, he sneaked out and called me.”

Police were able to arrest the woman, who had cut the lock on the food cart off and stolen the cash box, on her way out of the cart pod.

“She went straight to the outlet of my security camera and unplugged all of them,” he said.

Abb said Friday marks the first time his cart has been broken in to. Regardless, he said he will be installing a tougher lock, and taking the cash box home from now on.

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Apr 17, 2014
Jim Benson

Viking Soul Food cart closing for good in May

Viking Soul Food, the four-year-old food cart owned by Megan Walhood and Jeremy Daniels, will close next month due to an unforeseen family medical crisis.

The cart opened in 2010 serving tasty Norwegian lefse — the traditional Norwegian potato
flatbread — rolled up with everything from butter and sugar to smoked salmon and dill creme fraiche to meatballs and sour cabbage.

Viking Soul Food, a longtime favorite of this critic, was named one of The Oregonian’s best new carts for 2011.

In an email to The Oregonian, Daniels writes that the cart will remain open from Wednesday to Sunday, from noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday until Saturday, May 17, which happens to be Norwegian Constitution Day. Afterward, Viking Soul Food will continue to operate as a business, available for catering, wine dinners and cooking classes.

“This is far from the final chapter for Viking Soul Food,” Daniels writes.

One more note from Daniels: The couple’s super-cute Airstream trailer, affectionately dubbed Gudrun, is up for sale. Contact the cart for more information.

Viking Soul Food: At the Good Food Here pod, 4262 S.E. Belmont St., 503-704-5481,

– Michael Russell

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Apr 17, 2014
Jim Benson

North Station food cart pod slated for redevelopment

North Station, the North Portland food cart pod, could be replaced by a mixed-use development as soon as next year, The Oregonian has learned.

The upcoming project, spearheaded by Lake Oswego’s Jacobsen Development Group, calls for 25 condos, no on-site parking and as much as 2,000-square-feet of retail space, according to a development proposal filed with the city.

The North Killingsworth Street lot is currently home to several businesses, including Farmfood, a farm-to-table sandwich cart, El Retoño Taqueria, a Mexican food cart, and Handsome Pizza, a brick-and-mortar, wood-fired pizzeria.

Handsome owner Will Fain says he heard about the proposal after the development company presented their plans to the Overlook Neighborhood Association earlier this year. Demo on the cart pod could begin in the first quarter of next year.

Fain, whose pizza was named one of The Oregonian’s favorite Portland slices last year, says he hopes to stick around the neighborhood, either in one of the project’s new retail spaces or in a different location in North Portland.

“I’m keeping my eyes open,” Fain said. “I want to stay in the neighborhood, because that’s where my clientele base is.”

– Michael Russell

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Apr 16, 2014
Jim Benson

Sabrosa Barbosa

Silvia Barbosa asks only two questions when presented with
indecisive customers at Sabrosa Barbosa: “Are you a vegetarian?” (No.)
“Do you like spicy foods?” (Yes.) If those are your answers, you’re
given two sample cups. In one hand, a red mole. In the other, a green

you’re still indecisive, order both. The chicken mole bowl and the
chicken green chili bowl (each $6.50) are served over rice and fat,
white Peruvian beans.

says the chicken mole is a traditional Oaxacan recipe from her
grandmother, passed down in the family and only slightly modified to
accommodate her cart’s gluten-free aspirations. And it’s everything
you’d expect a mole to be: moist, fork-tender chicken, and a sauce rich
with a smoky blend of chocolate, peanuts, garlic, onions, bananas, honey
and tomatoes.

green chili, however, is another story. Among my friends and family, I’m
usually the one ordering spicy dishes and laughing at weaker
constitutions. But I was only able to relish the cheesy rice and chicken
through the first bites before being overwhelmed by the kick of those
green jalapeño and serrano chilies.

and her husband, Matthew Knight, hand-peel and roast peppers in their
commissary kitchen before simmering the chicken and pork in the sauce
overnight. Since the green chili is one of only a few things on the
menu, Barbosa is constantly tweaking the recipe. She tells me the chili
recipe has been toned down since I visited. I just might test my luck

  • Order this: Chicken mole bowl ($6.50) and the quesadilla ($2).
  • I’ll pass: Chicken green chili ($6.50)

EAT: Sabrosa Barbosa, Southwest 10th
Avenue and Alder Street, 11 am-3:30 pm
Monday-Thursday, 10:45 am-6:30 pm Friday-Saturday, 11 am-4:30 pm Sunday.

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Apr 15, 2014
Jim Benson

Bon appétit: Food cart season is here – University of Wisconsin

The popular food carts on the State Street Mall open today, and will soon be on the move to make way for construction that will yield a new and improved mall.


The first robin.

Chairs on the Terrace.

And food carts.

They are a few sure signs of spring that we can all look forward to, especially after what was the longest winter in the history of the universe – or maybe just felt like it.

While a few carts brave it through the winter, today marks the first official day of the food cart season, bringing with it the aroma of all sorts of goodness lingering in the air.

But next month, if you don’t find your favorite vendor in the same place, don’t panic. Sustenance is likely just a short walk away. About 20 vendors will be relocated between May 19 and Oct. 31 due to construction in the Library Mall area.

The new locations are still being finalized, but many will be in the East Campus Mall area near the University Club and several on North Lake Street between State Street and Langdon on the Memorial Library side, says Madison Street Vending Coordinator Warren Hansen.

Construction is scheduled to begin after the semester ends and is planned to conclude before the beginning of the fall semester, says Gary Brown, director of campus planning and landscape architecture.

Architect’s rendering of new mall area

An architect’s rendering, looking west on State Street, shows the area where the East Campus Mall meets the newly constructed State Street Mall. Click for larger image.

There will be all new paving, lighting, new seating areas and a new raised pedestrian crosswalk at North Park Street.

“It’s really going to be a new space,” Brown says. “A much livelier and contemporary space.”

New landscaping and public artwork should also make the area more inviting, Brown says.

“Right now, there isn’t a whole lot going on in that area,” Brown says. “This is a good chance to change that.”

Architect’s rendering of new mall area

This drawing shows a bird’s-eye view of the area at the East Campus Mall and State Street once construction is complete. Click for larger image.

Hansen has been working closely with vendors to help them pick a good alternate location while construction takes place.

“The good news is that the whole space is being rethought,” Hansen says of the reconstructed Library Mall area. “I think it will be easier for vendors to get in and out. There will be more space in general.”

Hansen has been the street vending coordinator for Madison since 1998 and has seen the popularity of food carts continue to grow, not just in Madison but nationwide.

“They really are everywhere,” Hansen says.

But Madison was food carting before it was cool. The city had its first food cart in 1977, Hansen says. By 1990, there were 20 food carts downtown. Now you’ll find them spread out in numerous locations.

Starting last year, food carts appeared at University Research Park. They’ll be back by popular demand again Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays starting this week.

Food cart devotees will most likely be willing to take a few more steps to find their favorite cart – and get a bit more exercise.

“After the winter we’ve just experienced, I think Madisonians are eager to be able to spend as much time outside as they possibly can,” Hansen says.

A State Street/Library Mall stakeholder’s pre-construction meeting will take place at 10 a.m. April 29 at Memorial Union, Class of 1924 reception room. More information can be found here.

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Apr 12, 2014
Jim Benson

Portland food cart expands to mall after Food Network challenge(Video)

PORTLAND, Ore. — A Portland food cart business just got a lot bigger. “Food Network” gave “Gaufre Gourmet” free rent at the Three Rivers Mall food court in Kelso for a whole year.

We spoke to the local celebrities about being the newly crowned “Food Court Wars” champions.

Charlene Wesler and Michael Susak have been serving decadent waffle creations through their food cart window three years now. Business is good and is growing. But Charlene describes the last few months as “a crazy ride” after a “Food Network” scout got them on the show, “Food Court Wars”.

The couple took on fellow local food truck “Pressed.”

“Food Court Wars” is a competition to win free space at the mall. It was tough.

“We had a lot of downfalls in the show,” said Charlene.

But they came up from behind on Sunday night’s show with the most sales. They won the space and avoid a year’s worth of rent — worth $100,000.

“The biggest advantage though of being in a mall (is) it’s enclosed space. So we have people smelling waffles all day long!” said Charlene.

“And our kitchen is like 400 square feet; it’s like five of these things; it’s vast!” added Michael. “We’re really excited to become a part of that community.”

Their new “Gaufre Gourmet” restaurant at Three Rivers Mall in Kelso will open later this week.

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