Columbus, OH: Older Food Trucks Update With New Outlooks for 2013

By Ayana Wilson | Columbus Underground

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As the food truck culture continues to explode on the Columbus food scene, changes must be made. Evolution is the grandfather of longevity, and to that end, several trucks are getting a makeover this Spring – gussying up, scaling down, and adding stripes – all to cater to the growing numbers who get their daily grub from a mobile restaurant. Here’s a look at some of the most notable augmentations on deck:

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That “Other” Food Truck

That Food Truck, recently featured on Nightline, has been serving Columbus savory, finger-licking sandwiches since last summer. Known especially for their Crispy Pork Belly, That Food Truck is one of the most sought-after trucks in the city, with regular gigs at both Dinin’ Hall and Seventh Son Brewery.

Another popular food truck was the Perzoot Food Truck, which, after running into mechanical difficulties last year, closed, much to the chagrin of loyal customers. Owner Matt Swint is still easily one of the most talented bakers in the city, so That Food Truck owners Scott Concilla and Dan Kraus recently created a partnership with him, and That “Other” Food Truck was born.

“Dan and I feel Matt bakes some of the best bread in the city,” Concilla explains. “We hated to see him sidelined for something out of his control, so we figured now or never…we would much rather have him baking with us than for someone else”.

That “Other” Food Truck will focus on serving a locally-sourced, sustainable, diner-style menu to include such items as fresh ground burgers, scratch-made sausages, and nostalgic ice-creams. Average prices will run from $3-$10 per meal. The new truck will also have outside stools so patrons can chat with the staff and chef as they eat.

There are also plans to use the truck to support a new smoker the guys are building.  Both will be regulars at Seventh Son, where they’re getting ready to produce awesome brunches and smoked meats to feature Chef Matt’s “KILLER focaccia and other breads”.

The name is still under works for this trucks, and discussions are being held about holding a Name-the-Truck customer contest, where the winner will receive an awesome food prize. To get in on the action, and to keep track of what comes next, follow them at www.facebook.com/ThatFoodTruck.

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Swoop! Food Group & Crepes A La Carte

Chef Matt Heaggans of Swoop! Food Truck, and Rosa Huff of Crèpes a la Carte, find themselves having more and more in common every day. They both own and operate two of the most successful food trucks in the market, they rely on each other for professional advice, and they are both determined business people with serious minds for entrepreneurship. So it was only a matter of time before the two united their collective energies to create an even stronger presence in the mobile food scene.

“This merger is a result of two small businesses realizing that we are able to operate a strong business model by playing to our strengths,” Heaggans expounds. “[I] have spent quite a bit of time working with Crèpes a la Carte to improve the quality of the base product and… Rosa Huff, a seasoned… and serious foodie has been a sharp and sensible adviser for Swoop!”

For the most part, customers should notice little difference with the merger. Other than some minor rebranding and a slight change in culinary direction, high standards of operation should remain. Promised though is even more creative offerings and better consistency. Swoop! is currently out of commission, but Crèpes a la Carte can habitually be found at Dinin’ Hall and the new Hills Market Downtown.

Both Chef Heaggans and Huff are passionate about Columbus and the exciting future of the food scene, of which they are an integral part. To find a schedule of locations, and to follow the progress of the new Swoop! Food Group, visit www.swoopfood.com or www.facebook.com/Crepes-A-La-Carte.

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Sophie’s Pierogi Food Carts

When Sophie’s Pierogi opened in late 2011, they were the first pierogi food truck in Columbus, introducing a whole new generation to the Polish comfort food already loved by so many. Sophie’s quickly became a go-to, offering not only classic pierogis, like the Vintage with sour cream and potatoes, but innovative twists on the old-world dish that utilized local and seasonal ingredients.

Now, Sophie’s is curtailing – not in flavor, but in size. Instead of the food truck we’re used to seeing, Sophie’s will continue to feed Central Ohio out of food carts. But this will not in any way diminish the quality of their offerings. In fact, this is a really, really good thing if you’re a fan of the pierogi.

“Sophie’s is scaling down to a few push carts [and] the same homemade pierogi will be in places on the street that food trucks can’t go,” owner Steve Redzinak shared. “I have great respect for the trucks that endure the ups and downs of this growing industry… [but] current laws favor pushcarts over food trucks”.

Sophie’s Food Carts will still offer favorites like the Vintage with several flavored sour creams, the Soph, a crispy pierogi finished with Yuengling-braised pork belly and grain mustard, and outrageous Stuffed Cabbage Rolls. Creative offerings and new items will also make appearances on the menu from time to time. In addition, because of the reduced overhead, Sophie’s will increase their pierogi servings from three to four at the same price.

Look for these new food carts at special events, craft beer venues, and local retail markets. Their ultimate goal is to have the brick-and-mortar building where everyone can come in and sit as if they were at their grandmothers’ dining room tables, but until then, follow the cart at  www.facebook.com/sophiesgourmet

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Paddy Wagon

Since 2010, the Paddy Wagon has been serving up culinary justice to the good people of Columbus – and we’ve loved them for it. Owner Zach James’ original design of the truck didn’t really reflect the sense of humor the menu would hold though, so last summer, with the contribution of several local artists, the Paddy Wagon got a new look that featured a demented-looking Wendy on the back, cartoons along the bottom of the truck that portrayed different levels of sick indulgence, and the now infamous “Naked Tattooed Sheriff”, who, for a while, became synonymous with the whimsy of the truck and its owner.

Now, the Paddy Wagon has undergone a transformation yet again. The entire truck has been rewrapped and remodeled in vivid hues that can be seen in the distance. One of Columbus’ first mobile restaurants, the Paddy Wagon is stepping it up in an effort to remain on radar in the ever-expanding food truck scene.

“The new look is nothing short of breathtaking,” James excitedly illustrates. “My personal favorite, and the main feature of the skin, is the skyline of Columbus along the bottom of the truck. It’s long overdue, and I am very excited to be out and about this season”.

In addition to the new look, Paddy Wagon also has new menu items. The Portabella Pineapple Sandwich is a vegetarian offering of a whole seasoned portabella cap topped with grilled pineapple, cheese, caramelized onions, lettuce, and Paddy Wagon’s signature BBQ and 5-OH sauces. Already a big seller, the 15-to-life BBQ Angus Brisket Sandwich is anchored by a 15-hour, slow-roasted Angus beef brisket which is pulled to order, topped with red slaw enforcement, and served on a butter-toasted hoagie.

You can catch the new-and-improved Paddy Wagon at Dinin’ Hall and other locations around downtown Columbus. They will be holding a hard re-launch this April at the Columbus Commons’ Earth Day celebration and the first Food Truck Hop of the year at Hal & Al’s, 1297 Parsons Avenue, on the 27th and 28th respectively. If you’re ready to serve time at the Paddy Wagon, find them at www.facebook.com/paddywagonfood.

Change is the stuff of life; it’s the reward for introspection, observation, and diligence. As the palates of Columbus’ hungriest continue to mature, so will the mobile restaurants we now cannot live without. These owners and chefs are ardent about their food, their city, and the people they serve. As they continue to show us the love, let’s do the same for them. Get out and eat!

http://www.columbusunderground.com/older-food-trucks-update-with-new-outlooks-for-2013-aw1