Browsing articles in "food cart"
Sep 22, 2014
Jim Benson

Syracuse University football player, London native opens food cart on campus

Growing up with two parents who worked full-time schedules, Alex Hodgkinson always found himself experimenting in the kitchen.

As he grew older, that experimentation led Hodgkinson to discover a passion for cooking, a passion that he always wanted to translate into something tangible — a food cart.

Hodgkinson, a junior and reserve kicker on the Syracuse University football team, achieved that goal about three weeks ago when his very own food cart, Pinocchio’s Pushcart, opened up right on the SU campus.

“I always loved the idea of small food options you see on the side of the street and it’s just a quick bite to eat,” Hodgkinson said. “Especially nowadays where a lot of kids and people don’t have the time and don’t make the time to eat.”

Originally from London, Hodgkinson uses his food cart to reflect his own identity.

“I’m half American and half English so it would be British Sausages and American hot dogs,” Hodgkinson said. “It’s kind of a reflection of who I am and where I come from.”

Hodgkinson is anything but a normal student. For the London native, majoring in classical civilizations with a double minor in marketing and architecture, owning his own business and playing Division I football always keeps his schedule packed, which is what he wants.

In that regard, Hodgkinson said he takes after his mother by taking on a lot.

“He is determined and willing to put the time into making things happen,” his mother, Cathy Hodgkinson, said in an email. “He might have my gene for this, but really he has developed all of his mental and physical skills himself.”

And Hodgkinson has made a lot of things happen. When he first came to campus one of his biggest goals was to walk on to the football team. Hodgkinson played rugby his entire life. When he arrived at SU he decided to pursue kicking as well as play on the SU Hammerheads club rugby team to stay fit.

By the end of his freshman year, Hodgkinson was given the chance to kick for some of the coaches on the football team and was able to walk on to the team. His first game took place in 2013 against Wake Forest, and although he didn’t get on the field, he said running out of the gates with his teammates was a great experience.

Forrester Pickett, Hodgkinson’s former roommate, said Hodgkinson is always making new plans, and unlike many people, he always puts in the effort to see them come to fruition.

“People think he’s just talking, but he always follows through on what he says he’s going to do, that kind of just goes for everything he says,” Pickett said. “Everything from walking on to the football team to what he’s doing in advertising and with the food cart now. He’s just making movements.”

Pickett said Hodgkinson had been talking to him about starting a food cart since they were freshmen, and that everything he does is close to his heart.

Hodgkinson’s teammates also recognize how important his ideas are to him. Ryan Norton, a fellow kicker on the football team, said Hodgkinson often talks about his food cart at practice and in the locker room.

“He’s loving it. He’s definitely got his heart in it and still obviously focuses on football,” Norton said. “It’s hard to balance both, but he’s a hard-working kid and he can do both.”

As for Pinocchio’s Pushcart, Hodgkinson is excited to keep the ball rolling. The food cart is located right at the top of Walnut Park across the street from Bird Library, which gives the business a lot of foot-traffic, Hodgkinson said.

“We kind of give off a quite cool vibe,” Hodgkinson said. “During the summer I was out there kind of doing some dancing just for fun. So it’s not only the food, people come to hang out in front of it.”

Hodgkinson can once again experiment in the kitchen because all of the cooking at Pinocchio’s is done on site. He said he uses hot dogs to explore more complex cuisines for his menu.

Just this week the cart debuted its Chilean dog, a hot dog topped with caramelized onions, guacamole and chunky salsa.

“I’m taking the traditional American dog and adding an international twist to it to keep it exciting,” Hodgkinson said.

Going forward, Hodgkinson’s main focus with Pinocchio’s is making it a more consistent operation. Hodgkinson said he wants the cart top be open everyday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., so students can grab a bite as they go to class or just take a study break hanging out in front of the cart.

Hodgkinson even said he is thinking about opening the cart for late nights on Thursdays and Saturdays for the crowd returning home after a night out on Marshall Street.

He is also coming up with ideas to adapt the business to Syracuse’s harsh winters.

“During the winter we might have a heater there so people can drink hot chocolate, coffee, hot apple cider and kind of huddle around there,” Hodgkinson said. “So it’s kind of a social thing. Obviously there’s no better thing that goes with socializing than food.”

Although the future for Pinocchio’s is uncertain, what is certain is that Hodgkinson has already accomplished many of his goals during his time at SU and won’t stop anytime soon.

“In America, I’m out of my comfort zone, so I have this sort of this innate energy,” Hodgkinson said. “I know it sounds cliché but it just comes out from me. And whereas back in London I may be relaxing more, here I’m kind of always on the go and I don’t seem to burn out because I just have this kind of fire in me.”

September 18, 2014 at 12:01 am

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Sep 19, 2014
Jim Benson

Franny’s food cart now serving near Sibley Hall

A new food cart designed and operated by students has been serving the campus community from the plaza behind Sibley Hall since late August.

The cart is the result of a student-led project for the College of Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP) and is named for donor Frances Shloss ’44, B.Arch. ’45.

Staffed by students and managed by the Statler Hotel, Franny’s features a menu of wraps and sandwiches, dumplings, rice bowls, crepes, salads, iced coffee, tea and a few desserts.

“AAP reached out to the Hotel School to be the operator,” said Gregory Mezey ’09, director of food and beverage at the Statler Hotel. “We weighed the pros and cons and thought it was a good opportunity to do something that has an entrepreneurial spirit, and this provides our students with a new venue.”

Food trucks have become increasingly popular, he said. “We came up with a concept menu and built what has evolved into Franny’s.”

The menu is “a mix of Korean, Vietnamese and Indian, and a splash of Latin American and Mexican flavors,” Mezey said. “We thought it was an underrepresented cuisine on campus and a really popular and successful one locally.”

Graduate and undergraduate students from all three AAP disciplines were involved in every phase of the project, from ideas to installation, saw it through to completion over a series of construction delays and kept a blog on their progress.

Food cart history

There have been mobile and permanent dining facilities at the north end of Cornell’s Arts Quad since the late 19th century, when The Sibley Dog, a local vendor’s wagon behind Sibley Hall, served hot dogs and other fare as one of only four food options then on campus. The Dog became the Campus Restaurant, in a wooden building that was removed in 1911 to make way for Rand Hall. It was rechristened the Sibley Pup and moved to the basement of Sibley Hall, sold cigars as well as food and was privately managed until 1915 when it became a university dining facility that lasted until 1921. The College of Architecture moved from White Hall to the remodeled Sibley Hall in 1959, and the former Pup has been the site of The Green Dragon café since 1968.

A design charette in February 2012 led to a mini-competition among three design teams, said master’s student in the field of computer graphics Nicholas Cassab-Gheta, B.Arch. ’14. Designers Alison Nash, B.A., BFA ’98, M.Arch. ’14, and Piotr Chizinski, MFA ’13 (who co-organized the charette with Benjamin Cummins, MRP ’13) and Cassab-Gheta worked on the project that summer to finalize the design and construction documents after Nash’s team’s concept for the cart was selected. The project’s faculty adviser was visiting critic Luben Dimcheff, B.Arch. ’99.

“The schematic concept was that it would be an ice cube or a glass box that would glow,” Cassab-Gheta said.

Known as the “Glow Truck” since the design stage, the cart’s translucent outer shell is lit from the inside at night by an array of dimmable LEDs. The modernist design complements nearby Milstein Hall. The cart was fabricated by craftsmen at Stonewell Bodies in Genoa, N.Y., which specializes in veterinary and farrier trailers.

“The overarching concept is for the ‘glow’ truck to serve as a beacon to draw passersby into our new AAP neighborhood underneath Milstein and behind Sibley Hall,” Nash said. “The truck can be seen by students walking from North Campus to the Arts Quad through the undercroft of Milstein Hall, and from buses and cars driving on University Avenue. We wanted to create an inviting atmosphere and to ‘warm up’ the north-facing plaza to create an inclusive gathering space for art, planning and architecture students and visitors to AAP.”

Franny’s is open from 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. weekdays, and closed 3:30-4 p.m. daily.

“It’s very popular amongst the AAP students and faculty, and we’re hoping it catches on with the rest of the campus,” Cassab-Gheta said.

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Sep 19, 2014
Jim Benson

North America’s First Bicycle Food Cart Debuts in Kelowna

The launch of North America’s first bike operated food cart (Photo Credit:

North America’s very first bike operated food cart launched in Kelowna on Thursday as part of a social venture to help the community.

The brain child of local resident and Chef Executive Officer of Culinary Ink Gastro Ventures, Donnie Ungaro, the carts will support the Kelowna Community Food Bank, Soles4Souls, and Metro Community. The first cart will be operated by Philippe Rochon, a red seal chef who was finding it difficult to find work in Kelowna and forced to head up to camps to cook for months at a time.

Final inspection by the City of Kelowna taking place on the new food cart (Photo Credit:

The first cart will be in service on Friday in front of the Metro Community on Water Street and two more carts will be launched at the Tedx Kelowna event next week. Ungaro hopes that the drivers and operators of the carts will become self-sustained individuals and will benefit from training, full time employment and in the future the potential for careers.

A sampling of the food available from the food cart (Photo Credit:

The plan is to have six food carts in Kelowna by the spring of 2015, two to four carts in West Kelowna and the goal of 100 across Canada in 18 months.

The bikes are equipped with gas burners, hot water heating elements and sinks; they are fully licenced mobile kitchens. Ungaro will look to the Foodbank’s clients and those that utilize Metro Community to fill the positions of operators.

Community members sampling the menu items (Photo Credit:

“There’s a soup cart down in San Francisco and there’s a taco bike that tows a cooler that is ready made, but from what we know we are the first in North America doing full service street side,” said Ungaro. The food carts will have the same menu franchise wide, changing daily, and will sell two items each day for $10 each. Exact change is encouraged and debit and credit card payments will be accepted.

The fully functioning cart can cook street side (Photo Credit:

The francises will sell for $1,200 dollars each and 20 per cent of all profits go back to the non-profits that have teamed up with Ungaro to support food programs for children in the community. Everything used in the carts will be biodegradable and utilize recycled material. The philosophy for the carts is simple says Ungaro,“give a man a meal –he eats for a day; teach a man to cook – he eats for a lifetime. “

The bike used to pull the cart (Photo Credit:

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Sep 19, 2014
Jim Benson

Food cart to start delivery services

Food cart to start delivery services


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It’s late at night, and students from the University of Iowa are looking for a meal around 10:30 p.m.

Now, they’ve discovered a food cart on the Pedestrian Mall: Cornroc.

Makotsi Rukundo, the owner of Cornroc, has noticed a sizable increase in the number of student customers since the beginning of the school year.

“It is a different kind of setting than a restaurant,” he said. “It’s outside, so I get to talk to customers.”

Rukundo said a decent number of his customers are travelers that like to grab their food and go, which is very beneficial to his business.

“We draw in such a large population of freshmen who grow tired of comfort food such as pizzas, meatball subs, and Mexican food,” he said. “When I was in college, I’d seen all sorts of changing businesses, but no one realizes there are food carts.”

Rukundo wants to create a car delivery service for students because so many of them are taking a liking to his food cart, but he is not able to use food trucks.

“The city’s regulations are already specific to the size of the cart,” he said. “We want to set up so that on Saturday nights, college students can call with a specific order, we get their location, and deliver. This will definitely help with popularity. They must use their credit card.”

City Clerk Marian Karr said the city does not govern delivery services, but rather the zones in which they conduct business.

“We do not usually allow commercial use of streets and sidewalks,” she said.

Karr said they are beginning to try to make use of mobile vending trucks, but they are not seeing much success.

Doug Beardsley, the director of Johnston County Public Health Services, said that anyone providing food to the public must have a permit and they must follow regulations.

“Hot foods must be kept hot, and cold foods kept cold,” he said.

Beardsley said that public-health services could indeed license Rukundo’s food cart if it meets the food standards for food trucks.

“There is no restriction by the health department as to where food trucks operate,” Beardsley said.

UI freshman Danny Poole said although he likes to eat at Hillcrest, he said one reason he thinks students are beginning to go to Cornroc is to seek out variety in what they eat.

“It’s a nice way to get away from burritos and pizza, and it lets us try something new,” Poole said.

Poole said he thinks students in general would prefer not to walk across the Pentacrest to get a bite to eat, so he endorses the delivery service idea.

UI sophomore Erin Jones said every once in a while, it is good to try something new.

“It’s good that it’s open so late,” she said. “I have classes at very inconvenient times, and I often miss meals.”

Jones also said she likes the food-cart style when compared to the atmosphere that restaurants create.

“I work at a restaurant, and I’m not really able to talk that much to customers,” she said. “I think it’s good to have that connection. That’s why this place sounds so cool.”

In today’s issue:

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Sep 19, 2014
Jim Benson

Hawthorne’s Food Cart Pod Gets a Reprieve

The pod is home to some of the city’s most successful and long-standing carts, including Whiffie’s Fried Pies, Perreira Crepes, Pyro Pizza, and Potato Champion, who posted the good news on their Facebook page. “We have no info regarding what happened with the sale of the property,” the owners wrote. “We only know that we get to spend two more years serving you all great food from this amazing location.”
· Cartopia Food Cart Pod Staying Open After All [Oregon Live]
· All Previous Cartopia Coverage [EPDX]

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Sep 18, 2014
Jim Benson

Georgia special ed kids’ food cart is latest casualty of federal calorie counts

  • Students in the Workplace Readiness course at Marietta High School operated a coffee cart but due to the recent restrictions on food and drink from the White House, the students are unable to sell the coffee and hot chocolate to students. (Marietta Daily Journal/Kelly J. Huff)

  • Jerome Anderson, Kelvin McLemore and Louisa Thielemann, all students in the Workplace Readiness course at Marietta High School participated in operating the coffee cart which was a mean to make money to support the jobs for those students involved in the program, where they learn valuable job skills they hope to take into the workplace. (Marietta Daily Journal/Kelly J. Huff)

  • After paying his dollar for a hot cup of coffee to Workplace Readiness student Jerome Anderson, teacher Tom Lewis gets his morning coffee at Marietta High School. (Marietta Daily Journal/Kelly J. Huff)

Federal regulations have upset the coffee cart at a Georgia high school.

Government limits on the calories in food sold to public school students have stifled both special education and culinary programs at Marietta High School, according to the Marietta Daily Journal. Students at the school learned baking and business skills by manning a cart that sold coffee and muffins to teachers and students every morning last year, but the business recently got the boot due to rules imposed by Washington.

Muffins exceeded the 200-calorie limit placed on snacks sold on school grounds under the 2010 federal Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which also limits sodium, sugar and calories in each food served at lunchtime. The cart was operated and stocked by the 16 special needs students, but since August, the coffee cart has been locked in a closet collecting dust.

“Our students need those opportunities to interact with others because they are very shy and they don’t have a lot of opportunities to speak,” Christy Hunt, a special education teacher at the school told the Daily Journal. “It was really about our teacher curriculum and teaching our kids real-life skills in a real-life setting. It’s part of what we need to teach them, and that part of it in the school system has been taken away by the Healthy Kids Act.”

Hunt added what most at the school feel about the program—that the coffee cart was also essential to teaching the students vital job skills.

One parent shared her sentiment with the newspaper.

“One thing I know she really enjoys about it is getting her out and about within the school, just getting them integrated with the rest of the school and just interacting with other typical kids,” Anna Thielemann said her of daughter, Louisa, who is 17 and has developmental delays and autism. “Even though it might seem like a little thing to people, it’s just huge and they’re able to incorporate so much within that process … just a lot of different types of life and job skills. It’s just really a shame to see this program fall or not be able to be done because she was so proud of it, too.”

The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act imposes two major changes that only took effect this school year. Whole-wheat flour must replace white flour as the main ingredient in all wheat products and food is also being produced differently to lower sodium levels.

The schools are focusing on keeping total calorie counts in the range of 750 and 850 calories for each lunch served to students in ninth through 12th grade.

While the healthy eating initiative has been pushed by the Obama administration, some snacks sold in the White House blow right past the 200-calorie limit, some have noted. A correspondent for CQ Roll Call tweeted out a picture of a vending machine at the White House that contained a 570-calorie honey bun.


It was not immediately clear if there were any healthier snack options in the vending machine.

Click here for more from the Marietta Daily Journal.

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Sep 18, 2014
Jim Benson

Markum Inn opens food cart during renovations

Connie Cummings is not going to let a total loss to her restaurant slow her down.

The owner of the Markum Inn, which caught fire in the wee hours of the morning July 20, has set up a food cart in the parking lot across from her restaurant while the building undergoes extensive renovations.

“I want to do the building like it looks like from the 1800s, with pine and cedar on the inside,” she said about the vision of her restaurant, which she said could seat 100 people once complete.

Project manager Vince Rodriguez of Dallaswhite Property Restoration said the restoration to the property depends on the timeline of receiving permits, but it could be within six months.

“We’ll try to get it up and running as fast as possible,” Rodriguez said, adding that the insurance will handle the majority of expenses for rebuilding. “Right now, we’re still in the design process.”

In the couple of months since the fire, Markum Inn’s five employees have stayed busy, catering for four events.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, Cummings said.

The cart is open daily 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Lindsay Keefer covers Hubbard, Mount Angel and St. Paul. She can be reached at
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or 503-765-1193.

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Sep 18, 2014
Jim Benson

Bubble’s Doubles food cart offers tasty treats from Trinidad

Madison is famous for its restaurants of superior quality and ethnic diversity. Anyone who has strolled along State Street and the Capitol Square, however, knows that our sit-down restaurants are not the only way to eat.

There are also the little food carts of every color spotted around downtown, luring in passers-by with smells wafting on the air and offering quick food from seemingly every corner of the world. One of the newer carts, Bubble’s Doubles, features “Tasty Trinidad Tobago Food.”

The food cart is run by Morris Reid, a native of Trinidad. Reid’s nickname is Bubbles, a nickname that perhaps comes from his bubbly, welcoming personality, but he swears there is no story behind the nickname.

Doubles is also a nickname, in a way: it is the name of one of the dishes sold at the cart, chickpeas rolled up in a light, fried flatbread. Traditionally, this dish can also be sold as one piece of flatbread (called bara) holding the innards, so if a hungry customer wants more than one piece of bread, they ask for a double. The vernacular eventually evolved, turning the order into “one doubles, please.” The chickpeas are flavored with curry spices (cumin, turmeric and the like) with a mouth-watering cucumber relish on top. Both vegetarian doubles ($3) and doubles with chicken added ($4) are available.

The other item on the menu is the Dhalpuri Roti. A roti is much larger than double. Wrapped up like an enormous burrito, the roti begins with a more complicated dough. The dough is made with flour and salt and baking powder, but then is layered with a mixture of very finely ground split peas and curry spices. The dough is then rolled flat and put on a griddle, not fried, making for a healthy-tasting and savory wrapping. In fact, the dough may be my favorite part of the roti, with all its added flavor. Tightly wrapped inside the dough are curried chickpeas and potatoes, and chicken is a common addition. The regular roti goes for $6, and a roti with chicken for $8.

The flavors in the doubles and the roti are indicative of the Indian culinary influences in Trinidad and Tobago. Doubles are street food, good for a grab-and-go lunch. Actually, in Trinidad and Tobago, doubles are considered a breakfast food. Not so much here in Madison, where the food cart opens no earlier than 10 a.m.

Reid learned his cooking techniques from his mother, who wanted to make sure all her children knew how to cook for themselves. Although he had previously worked in his brother’s restaurant in Brooklyn, the food cart is his first venture in running a food establishment himself.

Reid’s allotted spot on Mifflin Street is a good one, a popular location for business people and students looking for a quick lunch, and out-of-towners admiring our beautiful Capitol building and perusing dining options. Having opened in July of 2013, his food cart has a loyal following — during my short chat with him I heard customers greeting Reid by name and requesting “the tastiest food on the square.” Reid is looking forward to adding to his menu, probably starting with a traditional rice dish from his home country.

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Sep 17, 2014
Jim Benson

SE Portland’s Cartopia food cart pod staying open after all – The Oregonian

Southeast Portland’s Cartopia food cart pod, which was slated to be redeveloped into apartments, might not be closing after all. 

In an email, Potato Champion owner Mike McKinnon wrote that he and other cart owners at the late-night pod were offered a chance to renew their leases for two more years. The letter was signed by all of Cartopia’s current tenants, including Whiffies Fried Pies, Perriera Creperie, Pyro Pizza and more. 

In May, The Oregonian reported that developer Vic Remmers had submitted plans to the city for a four-story, mixed-use development on the site, at Southwest 12th Avenue and Hawthorne Street. 

McKinnon said he didn’t know why those plans had changed. The Oregonian has reached out to the developer for an update. Stay tuned for more details. 

– Michael Russell

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Sep 12, 2014
Jim Benson

Guilty plea in vicious snowstorm stabbing of food-cart vendor – Staten Island Advance

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — A Brooklyn man admitted Friday to viciously stabbing a halal food cart worker earlier this year in Grasmere during a snowstorm and to mugging two other victims.

Eric Peterson, then 20, was among three suspects charged in the savage Jan. 3 attack.

Authorities allege Peterson, Keith Young, then 21, and Christopher Daniels, then 17, assaulted the victim at about 1:55 a.m. during the height of a raging storm.

Peterson is also known as Steve Anderson and Young also goes by Kenneth Young. The three hail from Brooklyn but have ties to Staten Island.

The defendants saw the victim standing by his food cart at the corner of Hylan Boulevard and Old Town Road, authorities allege.

They rushed and robbed him, knocking him to the ground and stabbing him repeatedly with two knives and a box cutter, police sources said.

After taking the victim’s cash, the three fled, but they didn’t know the neighborhood well and were caught by patrolling police officers, one NYPD source said.

Police initially thought the 50-year-old victim wouldn’t survive, but his internal organs weren’t punctured, said sources.

Twenty-five minutes before the near-fatal attack, the suspects allegedly mugged a 29-year-old man at knifepoint at the Old Town Road train station. They snatched his cash, said prosecutors.

Peterson admitted to the two attacks and to a third incident on Dec. 20 on Bay Street near Virginia Avenue, in Rosebank.

Police said Peterson knocked a man to the ground, slashed his back and face with a box cutter, and stole his phone and cash.

Peterson pleaded guilty in state Supreme Court, St. George, to three counts of first-degree assault to cover charges in each case. First-degree assault is a “B” felony, the same classification as attempted second-degree murder, one of the charges on which the defendants were indicted.

Under his agreement, Peterson will be sentenced Oct. 6 to no less than 10 years and no more than 12 years in prison, said a spokesman for District Attorney Daniel Donovan. He’s also subject to five years’ post-release supervision.

Peterson made no statement in court beyond entering his plea.

His lawyer, Paul A. Capofari, declined comment.

Daniels’ and Young’s cases are pending.

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