Archive by Author

OH! Burgers Set To Open OH! Chips

29 May

OH!Brian Thornton, owner and operator of OH!Burgers, is a food industry vet. Starting in high school at Skyline chili, Brian realized that he loved the atmosphere. “I liked serving people food and just making people happy through food,” he says of that first experience. “I decided to go to culinary arts school with the intention of someday opening my own restaurant.” He wasted no time leaving for the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago (now Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago). After finishing at CHIC, Brian attended OSU for Business management while working a series of restaurant jobs, including Hyde Park steakhouse and the Refractory.

The a-ha moment came when Brian attended the Food Truck Fest at Columbus Commons, thinking to himself – and I quote – “Well, that’s pretty freakin’ sweet!” Now that he had an idea to work towards, Brian once again put his nose to the grindstone, making a business plan for OH!Burgers while working at 89 Fish & Grill (formerly Michael O’ Tool’s).

There are two real stand out aspects to OH!Burgers- The miniature size of the burgers, and the replacement of the standard-issue side of fries with freshly fried sweet potato chips. “We saw the burger trucks and realized they were running super slow, so we wanted mini burgers. And we didn’t want to have a fryer on during the day so that’s why we chose chips,” Brian told me.

His formula seems to be working: OH!Burgers is running full time, and Brian’s chips started selling out within the first year. He turned to EDCI’s food business incubator, the Food Fort, for help. “I started looking for a new fryer, and started bugging Food Fort about running a fryer here. They allowed me to buy the fryer and put it in and start frying.” It has been a successful relationship. Of the Food Fort, Brian told me “The collaboration between the food truck owners, the food cart owners, different caterers, stuff like that is something that’s helped. Drove my business, I know that for sure.”

The chips are so successful, that Brian has shifted his focus. The potential is such that he is working as fast as he can to get them in stores- “I’ve already had people contact me about [that]… I’m turning people away right now to be honest with you. The chips have a much higher potential than the truck does.”

Future plans for Brian include opening a warehouse to increase production of his sweet potato and kettle chips. He hopes to begin operating from the warehouse in September 2014. You can find OH!Burgers at 4 String Brewing Company Friday nights or at http://www.streetfoodfinder.com. Connect with OH!Burgers on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/OHBurgers) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/OH_Burgers).

The Food Fort Featured On Good Day Columbus

15 May COMMONS

We had a great time showcasing some of our extraordinary clients today at The Columbus Commons for Good Day Columbus. Special thanks to Pitabilities, Swoop! Food Truck, and Tatoheads for participating.

 

ALL PICS

Trucks getting ready for that lunch rush

COMMONS

Good Day Columbus’s Dana Turtle interviewing Columbus Commons’ Amy Taylor

PITA 1

Pitabilities

TATOHEADS 1

Tatoheads

Swoop Food Truck

Swoop! Food Truck

 

Red Plate Blue Plate: How Food Trucks Can Help The Community

25 Apr
Thomas Adams, owner of Red Plate Blue Plate

Thomas Adams, owner of Red Plate Blue Plate

By Evan Schieber

Columbus-ite Thomas Adams was an expert in the tire business. Between doing global product development, selling for a large account on the east coast, and working as head of marketing for the U.S. branch of a global tire company, it’s safe to say that he had found a comfortable niche. However, after 30 years in the industry, the cracks were beginning to show.

“The last two or three years, every 8 weeks I was in China,” Said Adams. “I loved the people, but it’s rough…my health was starting to suffer, and quality of life was just tough.” After 30 years, Adams was ready to take on a new venture.

After leaving the tire industry, Adams found himself having a light-bulb moment while working in soup kitchens in Philadelphia. He realized that he could culminate his interests in fresh food and asset based community development by running a gourmet food truck.

Adams started his food truck endeavor Red Plate Blue Plate with a used Utilimaster van. After a bumpy start (his first test-drive led to his engine catching ablaze), Adams worked out the kinks and settled into serving Charleston-inspired southern coastal style of cuisine. “Kind of where the garden and the shore meet in the Carolinas, down to Georgia” Adams says.

Through an internet search for commissary kitchens, Adams found an ally in the ECDI powered Food Fort-a food business incubator featuring a licensed commissary and a full sized commercial kitchen. It provides him with many resources.
“I was on gravel before. I have sanitation here, I have an inside sink, I have a prep area. I don’t have to do absolutely everything on the truck which is what I had to do last year,” Adams noted. Adams also discovered that his personal philosophy aligned with that of the Food Fort. “The heart of ECDI is economic-based community development, so I have an instant alignment here,” he said.

Adams has big ideas driven by asset-based community development- a technique Thomas learned at his church, Sanctuary of Columbus. Asset-based community development helps communities empower themselves by taking inventory of the strengths and assets they possess. One such idea is Red Plate Blue Plate’s alter ego, Abe’s Kitchen.

“[Abe’s Kitchen] owns this thing called a H.E.A.T. menu: Healthy, Economical, and Tasty. Imagine a dollar menu, like one dollar, two dollar, four dollars. And one dollar gets you a nice, healthy, high value sandwich. Two dollars gets you a sandwich and a side. Four dollars and you’re carrying dinner home” Adams explained. Driven by food and time donated by the community it’s serving in, Abe’s Kitchen would be an example of the effectiveness of asset based community development.

Red Plate Blue Plate maintains an updated calendar at streetfoodfinder.com. In the future, they hope to develop partnerships with the burgeoning growler and brewpub industry in the University District. For questions and booking, Thomas Adams can be contacted at  or (614) 859-0809.

–Evan started working as an intern at ECDI’s Food Fort in April of 2014. He has been working closely with its director to develop new informational materials for the Food Fort as well as a portfolio of client-focused photographs. A native of Columbus, Evan has a passion for cycling advocacy and photography. Evan is currently studying writing at Antioch College, and is in Columbus for his cooperative work term. He can be reached at eschieber (at) ecdi.org, or by phone at (614) 559-0193.–

The Great Westerville Food Truck Fest September 15th Noon to 7 pm

7 Aug

The Great Westerville Food Truck Fest

For more details and to track updates check out their Facebook page

Our members there will include: That Food Truck, Tatoheads, OH! Burgers and Pitabilities. The event will raise funds for W.A.R.M.

Whitehall Food Truck and Fun Fest: July 27th

23 Jul

Whitehall Food Truck Fest Flyer

More information here.

The event runs from Noon to 10 pm. Many of our food truck members will be at the Food Truck and Fun Fest. Last year, we worked with the city of Whitehall to do a National Night Out event which was well received within the community and had a great turn out.

Food (Truck) Fight at CSCC June 25th 10 am to 6 pm – Eat and Fight Hunger at the Same Time!

14 Jun

Food Fight June 25th

The Mid-Ohio Foodbank and the Central Ohio Restaurant Association (CORA) have partnered for several years to work together to fight hunger. The concept is simple. The restaurants commit to donate 5% of sales to the Foodbank on a set day, you eat and the Mid-Ohio Foodbank gets more funds to do good things in our community. This is called Food Fight!

This year working with CORA and Columbus State Community College (CSCC) several of our local food trucks are getting on board to join the cause with a special preliminary round of the fight on June 25th.

CSCC will host several food trucks on their campus from 10 am to 6 pm to feed all diners – students, staff, downtown workers and residents as well as anyone that would like to drop by. The trucks will be set up at the intersection of Cleveland Ave. and Mt Vernon Ave.

Please share this with anyone you would know that is interested.

To learn more:
Mid-Ohio Foodbank

Thank to the many in the community that have partnered to make this event possible including:

CORA, CSCC, 614 Magazine, CD102.5, NBC4 and Yelp as well as our food truck community.

Women’s Day Event at ECDI’s Women’s Business Center June 22nd

12 Jun

Womens Day Flyer Jpg June 22

The Women’s Business Center at ECDI invites all to come with family and friends to celebrate Women’s Day on June 22nd from 11 am to 4:00 pm.

The event will be held on the ECDI Campus at 1655 Old Leonard Ave.

The day will feature family friendly activities, mobile food vendors including Pitabilities and Dan’s Deli 41, an e-waste recycling drive from 10 am to 2 pm, live music and guest speakers. Liz Lessner from Columbus Food League (Betty’s, Tip Top, Jury Room, Dirty Frank’s, Grass Skirt Tiki Room, Surly Girl Saloon) and Eartha Recycling will be a featured speaker at the conclusion of the day.

Speaker and event schedule is listed below:


Speaker Schedule

11:15 – 12:00 p.m.
Jacqueline Holland, RN, CRNP, WHNP- Program Manager, Diversity
Diversity Enhancement Program at the James Cancer Clinic
Health and Balance in Our Lives

12:15 – 12:45 p.m.
Dress for Success –“What not to Wear” Presentation and Make-over”

12:30 – 1:00 p.m.
Catfish Lily – Live Music

1:00 – 1:45 p.m.
TaKeysha S. Cheney, Founder, CEO and Publisher of The Women’s Book
The Importance of Making Connections

2:00 – 2:30 p.m.
Dress for Success- “What not to Wear” Presentation and Make-over”

2:15 – 2:45 p.m.
Catfish Lily – Live Music

2:45 – 3:30 p.m.
Liz Lessner, CEO and President of Betty’s Family of Restaurants
The Dream, the Vision, the Budget


RecycleForce Columbus

Donate your old computers, TVs & almost anything with a cord and put
individuals with barriers to employment to work!

What is e-Waste?

Unwanted consumer and business electronic products nearing the
end of their useful life are called e-Waste or e-scrap (computers, game systems, phones, etc.)

A $5 donation/disposal fee is required for computer monitors up TVs up to 27”
and $10 donation for TVs larger than 27”.

Member Spotlight: J Pops

6 Jun

Steve White is the owner of J Pops a gourmet ice pop company which uses the Food Fort as a commissary for his food cart and kitchen space for production. We have been working with him since late 2012.

jpops

What inspired you to start J Pops?

I was living in Atlanta and began to see a trend of gourmet ice pops. I thought it was a great idea and started to play around in the kitchen creating different flavors. But it wasn’t until the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan that I decided to make them for real. I had lived in Japan for over 2 years as an English teacher and I fell in love with the country and it’s culture. I felt so hopeless and wanted to do something to help out. I decided to sell the pops to my co-workers and sent all the money raised to the American Red Cross for Japan Relief. Then after much encouragement from my boss I decided I would go into business officially once I moved back to Columbus to be closer to my family.

What inspires your flavor creations?

I get inspired from a variety of things. Sometimes it is as simple as walking around the farmers market or supermarket and seeing what is in season. I then think about what I could pair with that fruit or herb. I also get suggestions from friends.

What is your biggest flavor fail so far?

Well, there have been several. Sometimes it takes 5 or 6 attempts before I get it right. But, the biggest fail I can recall was Caramel Apple. The first attempt was awful! There was also cereal milk. That one didn’t even make it to my taste testers.

Where can people find your pops and your cart?

J-POPS are sold at The Hills Market Downtown and at Celebrate Local in Easton. You can find my cart at Pearl Market on Tuesday and Friday. Easton Farmers Market on Thursday and Worthington Farmers Market on selected Saturdays. Sometimes I pop up in Bexley by Capital University on selected Wednesdays. I will also be at various festivals this summer including Pride Fest and ComFest. The best way to find out where I am going to be is to follow me on Twitter and like me on Facebook: myjpops

What did you do to prepare for starting your business?

A lot of research. It was a challenge since I initially I did not have a mentor. I enrolled in classes at the SBDC here in Columbus and was very lucky to get Ariana, my business advisor. She was such a big help in being so supportive and helping guide me along the way to what I needed to do. I honestly had no clue about all that it was going to take to get the business up and running. Between all the licenses and all the regulations it can be very overwhelming. Bob Kramer from the Food Fort helped me with questions about licenses and permits. Everyday is still a learning experience.

What was the biggest obstacle you needed to overcome to get started?

There were so many! It was a challenge finding the cart and molds that I wanted and that took a long time. Besides finding the core items the other obstacle was finding a mentor.

Any advice for new food business owners?

Do your homework. Take advantage of any free resources you can find. Sometimes the best ones are the people near you . Realize that it will take time to get things up and going. I try to look at everything as challenges and not obstacles. There were so many times I wanted to just give up because I thought it would never happen because as soon as I took one foot forward, I would get pushed back two more. It is a lot of work so you really have to want to do it and believe in your product.

Food Truck Event at The Naz May 26th 11 am to 4 pm

15 May

Naz Food Truck Event May 26th

Join some of your favorite Food Fort mobile vendors and others for a break from the grill Memorial Day weekend. In addition to food, there will be live music, childrens activities, corn hole, indoor seating and access to the gigantic inside kid’s play area at “The Naz” which puts some amusement parks to shame.

Food Trucks confirmed so far include:
Burrito Bus
Dos Hermanos
Cheesy Truck
Pitabilities
Pizza Cottage
OH! Burgers
with a few more to confirm.

This is the first event food truck event in Grove City. There is plemty of free parking and room to eat inside or outside.

For additional details. See our listing on Facebook as well as the website listing on the Grove City Church of the Nazarre (The hosts of the event) website

Each truck will be making a donation to Refuge for Women, an area charity.

The Conclusion of the “Pig Mass Experiment”

20 Mar

In December, we posted about our relationship with the Davidson Family Farm and our decision to save food scraps for their pigs. Throughout winter, we able to fill one container (or more) to the rim with food waste each week. Collectively, we kept 50 to 150 lbs of food waste out of our dumpster and put it into the bellies of twelve piglets the Davidson’s started feeding in the fall. Each container equalled one or more days of meals for the pigs.

IMG_1636

Today Wendy from the farm came to make her last pick up for the season and it was our heaviest load to date. It was filled with beans, tortillas, bread, apple cores, vegetable cuttings, donuts and more. Wendy shared that the pigs know when a barrel comes back from the Food Fort. The pigs get excited because they know it will soon be time to eat like gourmets for the day. We appreciated the opportunity to put our waste to good use for the winter. We will look for other sustainable uses for our leftovers for the rest of the year.

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