Browsing articles in "food cart"
Nov 1, 2014
Jim Benson

Restaurant Report: Food cart violator moves restaurant

When Action News arrived at the location for Bennie E. Alexander on University Blvd, Romney Smith noticed the cart was gone!

Food carts can pop up anywhere so you still need to be aware of why health inspectors temporarily closed it.  Inspectors say the restaurant was open but didn’t have running water, an employee prepared food other than hotdogs in the cart, and worker was seen preparing food without washing their hands.

At the IHOP on 103rd Street, inspectors found undercooked meat, a toxic substance or chemical improperly stored and a blackish-green mold like substance in the ice machine.

At Mezcal Cantina Authentic Mexican Grill in Jacksonville, inspectors found small flying insects in the bar area, issued a stop sale on undercooked food, and found food stored in dirty containers.


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Oct 31, 2014
Jim Benson

Malloy Hits The Cedar Street Food-Cart Crowd

It’s not every day that the governor interrupts your lunch, but that just what happened to medical professionals and students midday Thursday on the stretch of Cedar Street that bisects the Yale-New Haven Hospital campus.

With the election just days away, polls show Malloy neck-and-neck with Republican opponent Tom Foley. You wouldn’t know that by the lunch crowd at Yale-New Haven Hospital and the graduate dorm where he dropped in to shake hands and take pictures.

Malloy found himself in a sea of supporters Thursday getting a lot of, “Hey, aren’t you the governor?”, “I know who you are,” and “You’ve got my vote.”

Strolling the food-cart laden street prior to his rally with First Lady Michelle Obama, Malloy was looking for a good lunch recommendation and promises that people would remember to go vote on Election Day. He hadn’t found lunch, but he found people who said they liked the job he’s been doing for the state even if they can’t vote for him.

The challenge with getting out the vote on Cedar Street is that Yale-New Haven Hospital attracts people from everywhere. At one point Malloy found himself talking to three students: one from Nigeria, one from Senegal and one who claims Boston as her hometown but was raised in Scotland. No matter, Malloy sought to make a connection.

“I don’t hear a Boston accent,” he said. “My wife is from Boston.”

One supporter said, “If I could vote here, you’d have my vote, but I’m registered to vote in another state.” A golden opportunity to remind the supporter that Connecticut has same-day voter registration and voting on Election Day.

“This is the first year you can do that,” Malloy said.

While inquiring what was on people’s plates, he asked people to vote for him and bring a few friends to the polls to do the same

“It’s a tight race,” he said. “Very tight.”


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Oct 25, 2014
Jim Benson

Portland police arrest food cart owner after serving search warrant – The Oregonian

Hia Thi Thai 

Portland police have arrested a 45-year-old woman in connection with a theft investigation.

Police served a search warrant to a home in Northeast Portland in connection with an ongoing investigation into Hia Thi Thai’s activities at her food cart “Julie’s Food” located at Southeast Fifth Avenue and Oak Street.

Thai was previously arrested on Oct. 2 and booked into Multnomah County Jail on charges of first-degree theft, two counts of unlawfully obtaining a food stamp card and three counts of identity theft, police said.

On Thursday police seized about $15,000 worth of items including large quantities of new clothing with tags on them, laptops, multiple iPods, large quantities of perfumes in the original packaging and multiple high-end handbags and wallets.

Police investigators said they believe the items were stolen from retail stores and then purchased by Thai. Police said the investigation is continuing, and Thai may face additional charges.

– Kasia Hall 

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Oct 24, 2014
Jim Benson

More food varieties make their move to York by food-cart

The sole mobile food vendor in the City of York may soon have company from other cart businesses. York council members passed an ordinance to allow up to 26 food-carts in and around downtown.

Darren Borodin makes a living by selling hot dogs. He says, “It gives me an opportunity with the hours that I work to be there for my children. I’m a single dad raising 3 kids.”

Darren’s the only licensed York City vendor. But come January, he’ll share Continental Square with other vendors. This week, York City Council members passed an ordinance which could bring as many as 25 more carts.

Darren says, “I think it could bring more diversity, bring people who wouldn’t normally be here downtown.”

Darren will continue to serve customers, but he’s concerned. Under the new ordinance, he’s not guaranteed a spot.

He says, “You have to renew your process and if someone wants the spot you have, you go into this lottery. A businessman could lose its spot.”

Council Member, Henry Nixon says, “Bidding provision is real simple. It’s the value of real estate, that’s the American Way. If you’ve got this piece of real estate and 2 people want it, let’s give it to the highest bidder.”

Nixon says vendors can begin applying for a spot with the city next month. They’ll pay a $325 license fee.

Nixon says, “It’s revenue generating, not a huge amount but it’s more an atmosphere-this a happening place.”

Vendors would be guaranteed a spot for two years. For Darren, a permanent place is how he wants to run business.

He says, “You should be able to operate as long as you’re not violating procedures, stay in business.”

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Oct 24, 2014
Jim Benson

Elk Horn Brewing moves up from food cart to hot new pub on Franklin Boulevard … – The Oregonian

Delacata must have been one fancy food cart.

Readers of this website chose, by a wide margin, Delacata as the best food cart in Eugene/Springfield. Only problem was, when I has in town recently, the food cart had closed and the owners had opened a restaurant.

Elk Horn Brewing has already become one of Eugene’s favorite casual dining locations, loved as much as the food cart (which may open again next spring).

The new brewery and pub are located at the intersection of Hilyard Street and Fanrklin Boulevard, though it carries a Broadway address. The location is a booming part of Eugene, in the intermixing area of the UO campus and downtown fringe (close enough to walk from both).

Across the street there is a 10-story luxury student housing complex going up.

Elk Horn is located in a building that used to house Carl’s Jr., the fast food dining chain that had offices down in the basement while hamburgers went out the door at street level.

Now, the beer is being brewed downstairs and southern cooking is being served on the main level. tThere’s also an upper dining area, with two big garage-type doors that can be rolled up to let in the air. There’s also a large outdoor dining patio.

The interior decor is pallet boards, donated by businesses all around the city and nailed in pieces to the walls. It sounds tacky, but they did a really nice job. To fit the hunting motif of the pub’s name, numerous animal mounts are displayed on the walls. Those were donated, too, and give the place more of a natural history museum ambience than one of blood and gore.

Stephen Sheehan is the go-getter who owns and runs the place, along with his wife, Colleen. She’s from Eugene and he’s from Tupelo, Miss., and both can only home their states play each other down the road in the college football playoff.

The southern food smells so good it threatens to snarl traffic out on Franklin Boulevard. And some of the beer gets aged in wine barrels from Sweet Cheeks Winery.

The food cart may have gotten the votes, but it’s the brick and mortar Elk Horn Brewing that’s getting the customers now. The restaurant is at 686 E. Broadway and the cart at 725 Olive St. Go to for more.

More food carts that received reader support:

Wrap City, in Kesey Square, downtown Eugene, intersection of Willamette and Broadway.

Uly’s Taco Shack, corner of Kincaid and 13th at the west entrance to UO campus, and downtown at Olive and Broadway.

Party Cart, this cart has grown into the brick and mortar bar/restaurant Party Downtown, 64 W. Eighth Alley, or enter at 55 W. Broadway, Eugene.

Cart de Frisco, 13th and Kincaid, also at the west entrance to the UO campus near the UO Bookstore.

– Terry Richard

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Oct 23, 2014
Jim Benson

Erwin board has no taste for food cart

Brad Hicks

Erwin Bureau Chief
Read More From Brad Hicks

Local News
Business Technology

October 22nd, 2014 9:24 pm by Brad Hicks

ERWIN — While Lewis Carsten said he has no intention of giving up barbecuing, he’s not yet sure where he’ll continue to ply his craft.

But Carsten said he knows it will not be within the town of Erwin.

Members present at a Wednesday meeting of the Erwin Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously voted to affirm a zoning ordinance violation previously levied against Hillbilly Butts and Brisket BBQ, the mobile food cart Carsten owns with his wife. The affirmation of the violation means the Carstens have 30 days from the issuance of the letter to either shutdown Hillbilly Butts or relocate the business or face fines for each day they operate after the 30-day period.

“I’m sorry for all our customers here that we’re not going to be able to stay,” Carsten said following the decision. “That would have been our preference, but I’ve got to comply whether I like it or not.”

On Oct. 16, the Carstens, who opened the Hillbilly Butts and Brisket BBQ food cart in June, received a letter from the town notifying them their business has been in violation of the town’s zoning code since Aug. 18. According to that letter, written by Erwin Code Enforcement Official Michael Borders, the Carstens’ mobile food unit was not “expressly permitted” within the town’s B-2 arterial business district where it was located.

Prior to Wednesday’s vote, Borders told members of the board that allowed uses in the B-2 district include hotels and motels, restaurants, offices, funeral homes, places of amusement and assembly, auto and mobile home sales, and public and semi-public buildings and uses.

“It is my decision that the mobile food unit does not conform to the uses provided in Section 705,” Borders said.

Carsten also spoke before the board made it decision. He said before opening the food cart, he met with county and town officials on multiple occasions and no zoning issues were brought up by these officials. Carsten said he received permission from the property owner to set up his food cart at 1119 North Main Avenue and began leasing that property. Carsten also said he obtained the propert business licenses and permits from Washington County, adding that he was advised by town and county officials they would be honored here.

“I think it’s an injustice that in meetings prior to this and to receiving the letter last Thursday, especially before we even came here, it never happened,” Carsten said to the board. “Nobody said there was an issue with zoning.

“Folks, if the city had told us prior to us coming here, in meetings prior to us setting up, that there was an issue, we wouldn’t be here. We didn’t come here looking for a fight. We didn’t come here looking for trouble. We’re retired. We have kinfolks in the area. We wanted to be in an incredibly safe town that we have kinfolks in, do our business, and that’s all we wanted. We didn’t come here to start trouble. We didn’t come in here to be an issue. We came in here to sell a little barbeque and make some more friends in this town.”

Carsten said he met with town officials around a month ago to discuss future plans for his business. He said he advised officials that he wished to continue selling his fare from the cart through this winter, with the hopes of being able to move into a “brick and mortar” establishment by the spring. Carsten added that he and his wife had looked at possible restaurant locations within Unicoi County, including the former Toby’s Cafe location on Carolina Avenue and a location near Exit 40 along the Jackson Love Highway.

“It was never our intent to stay in that trailer,” Carsten said, “but it was our intent to stay in the trailer long enough to try to make enough money to get into a brick and mortar situation, whether it was leased or bought.”

Prior to the board’s vote, planner Ross Phillips with the First Tennessee Development District advised the board that it would be voting to affirm, deny or amend Carsten’s appeal of the administrative decision. Aldermen Sue Jean Wilson, who serves on the Board of Zoning Appeals, moved that the decision be affirmed. Fellow board members Betty Chandler and Roland Bailey also voted in favor of affirming the decision. Board members Doris Hensley, Erwin mayor, and Clyde Griffith were not present at Wednesday’s meeting.

Others in attendance spoke after the board’s decision. Hillbilly Butts co-owner Pat Carsten questioned the reason for the move.

“Is it the parking?” she asked. “Is it the way our tailer looks? What is it?”

Michael Baker, candidate for Erwin alderman, asked the board why other similarly-operated businesses, such as the Randy’s Produce stand and a trailer selling furniture in the parking lot of the Tractor Supply location on North Main Avenue, did not receive similar letters.

“You’re just choosing one business to tell them to get out,” Baker said.

Phillips said each circumstance is different and that the board was only set to consider the issue regarding Hillbilly Butts.

“There’s a lot of different facts that we consider,” Phillips said. “When I first looked at this, I looked at ways of trying to fit it into the zoning ordinance so that it was a permanent use. I wasn’t going into it trying to say ‘We want to shut this business down.’ That’s not how I look at things.”

Standing outside Erwin Town Hall following the board’s vote, Carsten said the panel’s decision was disappointing but expected.

“We’ve though about it and thought about it,” he said. “We were really praying that this didn’t happen but, in my heart, I knew they had to back (Borders) up. They had to. Right or wrong, he had to be backed up.”

After the Board of Zoning Appeals made its decision, the Erwin Planning Commission, which had recessed to consider the matter pertaining to Carsten’s mobile food unit, reconvened. The commission, made up of the same members of the Board of Zoning Appeals, opted to have town staff look into mobile food units for the possible development of an ordinance and bring information back to the Planning Commission in the future.

Following the meeting, Erwin Town Recorder Glenn Rosenoff said the Board of Zoning Appeals is limited in its powers and could only decide whether the Carstens’ business was in violation of the town’s zoning regulations based on the ordinance, adding that officials “thoroughly reviewed” the violation.

“They have boundaries on their decision,” he said. “Is it a zoning violation or is it not? Does it meet the minimum requirements of the ordinance or does it not? That is their only recourse.”

Rosenoff said he observed that Hillbilly Butts could be in violation of the zoning ordinance as early as May, prior to the business’ opening, and advised Carsten of the violation when he met with him in September. Rosenoff said zoning violations are typically enforced immediately, but Hillbilly Butts was essentially given temporary use of the trailer.

“We were not immediate in our action on the zoning violation,” Rosenoff said.

Carsten said he is not sure how much longer he will continue to operate Hillbilly Butts and Brisket BBQ in Erwin now that the board has decided its fate, but he said the move may lead to other opportunities for the business to grow elsewhere. He said he has received an invitation from the owner of the former Parson’s Son BBQ property in Jonesborough to set up there, as well as another invitation just before Wednesday’s meeting.

“We wanted to be here in Erwin and the people who are here, our customers, are fantastic. They truly are,” Carsten said. “They want us here, too, but there are those in town who don’t want us here and, obviously, they’ve got more pull in the city government than the people. So, bless their hearts, they can have it.”

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Oct 22, 2014
Jim Benson

Familiar FIB’s tops Madison’s 2014 food cart rankings

The official city of Madison food cart rankings for 2014 have been compiled and there’s a familiar name topping the list: FIB’s Fine Italian Beef and Sausage. FIB’s also topped the cart rankings in 2012.

To be clear, the FIB’s in question is the original FIB’s, also dubbed FIB’s 1, which vends at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Main Street on the Square. FIB’s opened a second cart in 2013 that has been vending on or near Library Mall; FIB’s 2 ranked 25th this year.

The number one ranking for FIB’s 1 is helped with its seven points for seven years of seniority, plus consistent Chicago-centric branding from the cart (complete with Chicago-themed tunes) to its focused menu and carefully prepped foods.

Every fall, a committee of two dozen or so enthusiastic cart-eaters, recruited by street vending coordinator Warren Hansen, eats at every cart during a two-week review period. (Full disclosure: This year, I was a member of the committee.) Committee members are charged with evaluating each cart on a number of criteria, and scores are weighted 40% to food, 40% to “apparatus” (which includes evaluating cart design for both visual appeal and service practicality, as well as cleanliness and maintenance) and 20% to originality (with regard to both menu and cart design). Committee members must visit 80% of the carts or their scores are not counted.

Points are added for seniority (this tops out at 7 years, though, no matter how long the cart has been vending); deductions are made by the city for health or vending code violations. Top carts get their first pick of sites for the following year. If a cart’s scores fall below 70, further work is deemed necessary before it is allowed to vend.

Two carts had deductions for “significant health or vending violations” — SoHo Gourmet with seven and Hibachi Hut with five. Most carts have no deductions or just one.

This year, 50 carts participated, down slightly from last year’s 53 carts, but still up from 2012′s 48.

Here are the top ten carts in the city’s official scoring for 2014:

  1. FIB’s 1
  2. Good Food 1
  3. El Burrito Loco
  4. Curt’s Gourmet Popcorn (MLK at Doty Street)
  5. Zen Sushi
  6. Slide
  7. Caracas Empanadas
  8. Teriyaki Samurai
  9. Surco Peruvian
  10. Fresh Cool Drinks

A slightly different view of the current cart scene results if one considers what the committee came up with from the review period only (including food, originality and appearance scores, but leaving aside seniority and demerits). It’s easy to see how seniority points can really affect the overall list.

Here’s this somewhat altered top ten:

  1. Good Food 1
  2. SoHo Gourmet
  3. Good Food 2
  4. Slide
  5. Melted
  6. Ladonia Cafe
  7. Caracas Empanadas
  8. Curd Girl
  9. FIB’s 1
  10. Umami Dumpling

Looking at the list this way shines a light on some of the up-and-coming carts like Slide, a non-burger slider sandwich cart; Melted, a fancy grilled cheese cart; Curd Girl, home to ethereal fried cheese curds and housemade dipping sauces, and Ladonia Cafe, which features “healthy comfort food” that also happens to be vegan.

Worth noting here are the high scores for Good Food 2, a brand new cart from Melanie Nelson, who has replicated her popular salad/wrap/soup cart (the original Good Food usually vends at Main and Pinckney Streets) with a somewhat different menu, although alike in concept. Good Food 2 was the highest-scoring of the new carts jockeying for spots in 2015.

For new carts that have not vended before and aim to start regular vending next season, overall scoring from the review committee looked like this:

  1. Good Food 2
  2. Cali Fresh (a.k.a. Marimar Mexican Fresh)
  3. Pagoda Smoothie
  4. Café Social
  5. Bulgogi Burrito 2
  6. Blair Street BBQ
  7. Imperial Pops
  8. Marimar on Wheels
  9. Say Cheese
  10. Johnson Public House

The lineup of future vendors lacks any radically new cuisine or food type for Madison carts (unlike last year’s high-scoring Melted, for instance, which brought the grilled cheese trend to town).

Two of these new carts (Bulgogi Burrito 2 and Pagoda Smoothies) have had previous menu incarnations (as Wei’s Food to Go and Tea Garden, respectively) but retain the same ownership, and so retain their seniority points for their final scores.

View the complete 2014 rankings.

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Oct 21, 2014
Jim Benson

Restaurant News: It’s no lie, FIB’s comes out on top in annual food cart review

John Handley, who owns and operates two food carts called FIB’s, one on the Capitol Square and one on Library Mall, earned the top ranking in the 2014 city of Madison food cart review.

FIB’s (for Fine Italian Beef and Sausage) beat out 49 other carts in the annual review, conducted on Library Mall and around the Capitol Square over 12 days between Sept. 22 through Oct. 4 by the city’s food cart review panel.

The panel included 27 reviewers invited by Madison Street Vending coordinator Warren Hansen, who released the results Tuesday.

Vendors were judged on food, appearance and originality. The higher the score, the more likely the cart owner will be assigned to the site they apply for in the following vending year.

The FIB’S 1 cart, selling mostly Italian beef and Italian sausage sandwiches, Chicago hot dogs and meatball sandwiches, got a near perfect score and also earned points for seniority since it’s been around seven years now.

Good Food, a 4-year-old cart serving wraps, salads and soups on the Square, near 33 E. Main St., came in second. El Burrito Loco, also on the Square, and in business for at least seven years, came in third.

Rounding out the top 10 were Curt’s Gourmet Popcorn; Zen Sushi; Slide, which offers creative meat and vegetarian slider burgers; Caracas Empanadas, Teriyaki Samurai, Surco Peruvian Food and Fresh Cool Drinks. 

The site assignments are permanent for the next vending year which runs April 15, 2015, through April 14, 2016, Hansen said.

There were 50 carts that were judged, and vendors received extra points for seniority and got docked points for health violations, he said.

Some carts will remain through the winter, particularly the ones on Library Mall which were displaced in recent months because on construction. 

“More of them may stay around to sort of recoup their losses. It’s almost over. It’s almost over,” Hansen said, noting that construction is supposed to be completed Oct. 31. “Fairly soon they are going to be able to return.”

Handley got into the food cart business after a career in advertising, knowing nothing about cooking. When people ask him what it’s like running the food cart, he tells them, “it’s like going camping twice a day and feeding all the campers.”

The name FIB’s was born out of the long-standing rivalry between Wisconsin and Illinois. When Handley moved his family here from Chicago in 1994 for an advertising job, his children were playing with some neighborhood kids and came back and said, “Dad, everybody’s calling us a FIB. What’s a FIB?”

“It was our first day in Wisconsin basically,” he said, adding that he told them a fib was “a lie.”

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Oct 21, 2014
Jim Benson

Papaya King Rolls Out New Food Cart Wednesday

(courtesy Papaya King)

Following the success of its brand new food truck, frankfurter purveyor Papaya King will launch an additional food cart for vending their delicious dogs. For its launch tomorrow, the cart will park outside of Macy’s in Herald Square, operating from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; the cart will also be available to rent for private events. There’s nothing more NYC than a hot dog cart at your wedding!

Or before a movie!

Prices are only a bit steeper than your classic dirty water dog—if you’ve visited a hot dog cart recently, hot dogs are sometimes $3.50 each, it’s ridiculous! Here, two dogs with a drink is just $7 or an extra 50 cents to add any two toppings like cheese or chili or onions. Other street classics like pretzels ($2) and knish ($2.50) are available, plus more State Fair-minded snacks like Fried Oreos ($4). Finally, it wouldn’t be PK without a tropical drink to accompany your tubed meat; they’ll offer flavors like mango and papaya for $3 each.

Papaya King Food Cart Menu 1

Papaya King Food Cart Menu 2

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