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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.

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.

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.

Local Bake Shop Mixes Day Job with Night Job for a Fun Event

9 May

We have mentioned Kelly Provost before. She started as Treats Bakery in the Food Fort Kitchens and then rebranded to Local Bake Shop. She spends some evenings and weekends here creating her inspired baked treats for catered events, farmers markets and more. During the day, she lives in the world of IT. In this episode of when World Collide, Kelly decided to use the Fort Fort as an event space for a team building event for her co-workers from her IT department. Many people have been using our space as a small event space and having fun mixing business with pleasure. It sounds like Kelly and company enjoyed their time in the kitchen.

This is the “field report” from Kelly.

The IT BA and PM team had a team building event. We took over commercial kitchen space at the Food Fort to organize into teams and bake four different, multi-step items within a set period of time. As a twist, each team had varying levels of “requirements” with their recipes. We learned some things about baking, about how we work together, about different kinds of requirements and decision-making, and we enjoyed some delicious treats!

(There were caveman sugar cookies, compliments of Blind Mice Bakery in the Lavender Lounge this morning.) 

Team Three Blind Mice (AKA Blind Mice Bakery) and their Koulourakia/Halal/Caveman Sugar Cookies

Retreat 1

Team Tart (Sweet, Savory, and Pop) with sweet blueberry tarts and savory cheese and tomato tarts

Retreat 2

The Pipers and their cream cheese filled chocolate cupcakes

Retreat 3

Team Puff and their Cream Puffs

retreat 4

Enjoying treats!

Retreat 6

We had great time!!!

It Takes a Village to Serve an OH! Burger

5 Mar

We have a collaborative community at the Food Fort. We see it everyday as members share ideas, pass on recipe hints and brainstorm with each other on the next special or business concept. This past week, we saw true team spirit shine through.

Brian Thornton from OH! Burgers had the transmission die on his food truck. It would take $2500 and three or more days to fix the problem. In the meantime, the key to have a profitable mobile food business is to have the ability to…..move. We thought of some different solutions: attaching a horse or mule team to the truck, borrowing another truck or sitting on the curb despondent about three days of lost business.

In a short time better plans came together.

Here is the recipe for getting Brian on the road.

Brian borrowed the Kenny’s Meat Wagon cart from Ken Donnelly and was loaned an SUV with a towing hitch by Alex from Tatoheads.

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For Friday, Laura Lee of Ajumama opted not to take the day off and instead partnered with Brian to do a pop-up combo on her truck. The two partnered with special items from the Ajumama menu and select items from OH! Burgers, so the two could work together to have Aju-Burgers / OH!Jumama set up for lunch at an OSU medical facility. (Please note the infamous, MikeGuyver, in the background of the shot with a thumbs up).

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Friday night, Brian picked up his truck at 5:00 pm and raced to the Instaband Battle of Bands Competition with his repaired OH! Burgers truck but had a back up plan of borrowing the Kenny’s Meat Wagon Cart or having another member sub for him. Kenny worked the truck with Brian to complete the circle.

Food Food Members in the News

31 Dec

Two of our kitchen members Bleu & Fig and Dinner Rescue crew received a mention ( Women Owned Businesses Thriving at ECDI’s Food Fort ) in The Metropreneur.

Bleu & Fog Logo

That Food Truck, was voted Best Food Truck by Columbus Underground with members Tatoheads placing third and Ajumama placed in at number 10.

We think all of our members deserve accolades (and those will be popping up here soon) but we are glad that some of them did get some kudos to wrap up the year.

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