Columbus Set to Launch Pilot Program Bringing Food Trucks & Carts to the Hungry Masses

City TRUCKSThis spring, you may notice a change in downtown Columbus. As city dwellers hustle to their offices, a new sight and a new smell might stop them in their paths.  Columbus-ites will be granted the opportunity to enjoy a quick bite, on the go, without worrying about the rollercoaster of emotions that go hand-in-hand with typical fast food offerings: where did this food come from? How many calories are in this? Is this actual beef?  For the first time in Columbus’ history, food trucks & carts will be allowed to setup shop in select city-designated spots and curbsides.

After almost a year’s worth of intense discussions, meetings, and litigation between city officials and the mobile-food community, the City Of Columbus is ready to unveil its pilot program that will finally grant food trucks & carts access to a number of coveted, city-owned spots throughout Columbus. This momentous development signifies that Columbus’ food truck frenzy is not a fad, but rather a growing industry capable of producing big profits.

This past fall, the Kaplan Artists Group was granted the rights to manage the new city spot reservation system. With over three years experience successfully operating Ohio State Wexner Medical Center’s mobile food rotation, OhioFoodTruckFinder.com, as well as Co-Owning The Columbus Food Truck Festival, KAG was the city’s first choice to implement the new program. They expect to build upon a model that has already proven to work seamlessly for both the customer and the vendor.

“We’re really excited to expose the greatness of what Columbus has to offer with its small business owners,” Chas Kaplan, founder of KAG, said. “Columbus has an incredible foodie scene and it’s time to introduce the variety of talented chefs to the masses.”

The days of seeing the same food cart peddling the typical “street-meat” are in the past. The new reservation system will work through a website, allowing mobile food vendors to reserve select spots around the city, bringing variety to the streets, sure to please even the pickiest of eaters. Lisa Gutierrez, owner of Dos Hermanos Taco Truck, an authentic gourmet taco truck that specializes in tacos, tamales, and burritos, is eager to take advantage of the new city spots.

Cart Marketing Photo“My team is ready to provide a new experience for someone who’s never experienced a food truck,” Gutierrez said. “You’re going to walk away with freshly prepared cuisine made to order which will be unique for customers, new and old.”

Once launched, the link to the public website will be posted via Facebook at facebook.com/colsmfv. Locations dates, and serving times will be accessible along with which mobile vendor will be serving. By separating the serving shifts into four groups: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night, Columbus’ food trucks and carts will be more accessible than ever before. Initially lunch shifts will be rolled out first as the final kinks are worked out but come April, at any given time, regardless of when hunger hits, there will be a mobile vendor waiting. In addition, interested foodies can subscribe to a mailing list that will send out weekly schedules that not only detail which vendor will be out serving but also if there have been any modifications to their menu for that shift. Customers can track individual locations or sign up for all the locations separately, depending on their preference. The website will act as the master calendar, which will also provide updated schedules and vendor information. Questions to learn more about the program can also be addressed at marketing@colsmfv.com.

KAG also plans to promote each city spot, through the use of Facebook and Twitter, allowing Columbus-ites easy access to the mobile vendors scattered throughout the city. With a simple click of the mouse, curious customers can explore all the vendor options, without having to aimlessly walk the streets looking for their food truck fix.

Dos Hermanos Taco Truck plans to hit the city spots starting in March. Aside from their weekly Saturday night gig at Seventh Son Brewery, Dos Hermanos will utilize the cart locations to enhance their exposure, in hopes of securing more business opportunities throughout the rest of 2015.

Dos Hermanos began serving at OSU Medical Center in 2012 and has rapidly gained a loyal following.  This past year, their cart has been featured at both Ohio Stadium and The Schottenstein Center during the men’s football and basketball games. Gutierrez is eager to take advantage of the additional spots through the new system.

“With the addition of the city locations, we are looking forward to having our best and busiest year yet, Gutierrez said. “2015 will truly be a landmark year for Columbus’ mobile food community.”

— Dos Hermanos Taco Truck has been a Food Fort member since spring of 2012. You can find them at www.facebook.com/doshermanostacotruck. They can also be reached for business inquiries at (614) 226-5286.

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

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.–

Food Trucks have a Fan at Wasserstrom

We work with several business and organizations in town to source food trucks and food carts for special events and lunches. One of the sites we coordinate with is Wasserstrom on Front Street.   As a company that services the food industry, the employees at Wasserstrom love to eat well (and so do their neighbors).  We started sending vendors to the site in the summer and it has been popular enough to continue through the winter.  All of our vendors enjoy going because of the support of the neighborhood and specifically the Wassertrom employees.  When we heard that there was a budding food writer on site, we asked for some details and found that every vendor gets a review which is shared among staff.  Any new business values feedback.  The accolades are great for the ego and the complaints help grow a better product.  We checked with the creator of Tasty Review to see if we could share some of her work.  See a couple of samples below.

So – let’s share the compliments.

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OH! Burgers

OH Burgers Wasserstrom

OH Burgers specialties lie with the very fresh and moist mini burgers.  Not real sure if I’ve had better from any other restaurant.  I suggest instead of using the ketchup, put a dab of A-1 in your boat to dip in.  You don’t need much at all because the burger does all the work that your taste buds will need.

When you go down stairs there is a board listing the different burgers.  Feel free to mix and match.

Today I tried the OH Burger, the Pineapple and the Korean.  Oh WOW!  I’m missing a burger!  Did I finish it without realizing it?  Just that good!

Oh, and did I forget to tell you about the sweet potato chips?  There’s just enough sweet in them to compliment your meal. 

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Blu Olive

I ordered the beet-and-ricotta ravioli with poppy-seed butter, potato purée fennel soup and a tiramisu dessert.  The ravioli are not what you would expect.  There is a very slight sweetness with the meal and you can’t even taste the beets.  I’m love the light taste of the poppy-seed butter that is drizzled over the top.  I would order this dish every time!!!

The soup is just what the doctor ordered on this mildly cool day.  Makes me want to leave work and curl up with a good book. (Just kidding LJ )  And could you ever say anything bad about tiramisu?  The two cookies that are packaged are nice and moist. 

So go on out there everyone and enjoy. 

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Schmidt’s

Hallo,

Wie Geht Es Ihnen?

Well, I’m great!  I’m sitting here eating my German Bologna sandwich with red cabbage and spicy brown mustard on a toasted bun.  The bologna is a thick spicy grilled round slice of goodness!

Don’t know if you like red cabbage but it add a little sweetness to mellow out the heat a bit. 

And guess what else fellow employees?  I’m going to finish off my yummy sandwich with Schmidt’s world famous jumbo creampuff.  Not going to give anything away on that one.  You’ll have to get back with me on what you thought about your meal and desert. 

So there’s your invitation.  Let’s hear from you:

I have to tell you that Creampuff, WOW!!!  I haven’t had one in years but tasting it again melted away days of years and brought back that feeling that I had when I took my first bite.  Can someone throw me a rope so that I can pull myself back down from this light, fluffy, tasty cloud.

JM I think summed up Schmidt’s lunch truck just right – “Reminds me of growing up.”

And LS said – “Boy was that cream puff good!”

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Thank you Tasty Review(er) for being a great supporter!

P.S. all of the mobile food customers out there everywhere:

Again – keep in mind that compliments are always appreciated but if you have a less than positive experience with food from any vendor, let them know, it gives them a chance to make it right for you, provides an opportunity to fix it for the next customer and makes sure they can grow their business to the best of their ability.

AUGUST 17: ECDI Food Fort Fest!

Food Fort Columbus invites you to come celebrate Local Foods Week in conjunction with the grand opening of our commercial kitchen space, The Eddie Grayson Culinary Lab!

The event will be held on FRIDAY AUGUST 17th from 5:00 TO 9:00 at 1655 OLD LEONARD AVENUE.

Come celebrate with us! A  variety of our mobile vendor clients will be selling their food.  Beer and soda will be available for purchase and we’ll have games and activities to entertain the younger crowd. Entertainment will include a DJ, cooking demonstrations and sampling from one of our kitchen clients, Bleu & Fig.  Admission is free.