Street food is often quick and greasy, but one Ohio State student is looking to change that with his new food cart catering to the off-campus community.
Ray Kinne, a fifth-year in photography, began his Rizzo’s Eats food cart over the summer.
Kinne said he decided to open the cart, named after his Boston Terrier, Rizzo, after noticing there were not healthy options at many local food carts.
“There wasn’t really a healthy option as far as stuff to eat on the street, so I saw a need for that,” Kinne said.
The startup of Rizzo’s Eats was funded by some friends of Kinne, who were investors. After the first month of business, Kinne was able to repay his friends.
Since then, Kinne’s full-time job has been Rizzo’s Eats, and he estimates spending about 60 hours per week at the cart.
He opened the cart in July and started out with chicken and beef wraps. When customers weren’t ordering the beef, Kinne took it off the menu a few weeks later.
Since Rizzo’s Eats uses fresh ingredients, the menu continues to evolve with the changing of the seasons. For example, customers will be able to order cider, hot coco and a soup possibly containing apples for the fall season.
While experimenting with new ideas for the truck, Kinne and neighbor Kasia Golebiowski, a fourth-year in accounting, mixed different sauces to diversify the available options and flavor the chicken and veggies.
“He has probably 20 sauces now,” Golebiowski said.
Rizzo’s Eats offers meals specifically made for each customer. Customers can choose which fresh-cut vegetables and sauces to have with the organic chicken served at the cart.
“With the sauces, you can basically make anything you want. You can (have) all kinds of spicy or sweet,” Kinne said.
Kinne has added breakfast wraps to his menu after taking some suggestions from customers.
Kinne also employed the help of his friend, who he bounced ideas off to develop a better brand.
“We just wanted to brand it, to be very unique and very different because there wasn’t anything new and different about the food carts on campus,” said Ben Goldfarb, a fifth-year in psychology and friend of Kinne.
Kinne allows customers to draw on the cart with chalk and said he is always interested in new ideas for his business.
“He always likes to do new stuff with the cart because that’s just the kind of guy he is. He’s always socializing with everyone, he’s the kind of guy who can go anywhere and make friends,” Goldfarb said.
Kinne said his friends have helped him throughout the process, from creating a brand for the cart and helping promote it.
“When Ray started going out at night, because there (are) more students coming out at night, what I did at first because Ray was so busy with making all his food was I would hold Rizzo and talk about Rizzo,” Golebiowski said.
Costumers enjoy getting to know not only Kinne but also his dog Rizzo, who accompanies Kinne at the cart. Many customers have begun to expect to see Rizzo when they see the food cart.
The experience of having a puppy around is another way Rizzo’s Eats sets itself apart from other street vendors, Goldfarb said.
“I would kind of walk around with him near the food cart, and it’s kind of funny, because when people would (ask) where is the puppy from, I would say, ‘Actually, that is his food cart,’” Golebiowski said.
Kinne said the puppy, who is 4 months old, helps bring in business and conversation from passersby.
“Rizzo is not only just the mascot of the food cart, he’s kind of like the CEO, we like to call it,” Golebiowski said.
Rizzo’s calm and social personality works well in the food cart environment, Kinne said.
“I have never met anyone who doesn’t love him,” said Kinne.
Rizzo’s Eats food cart is usually located on 14th Avenue and High Street, Kinne said, but he also sets up the cart around large concerts and parties around campus. Wraps are around $5-7, depending on the contents of the wrap.
The cart is open Monday through Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Wednesday through Saturday from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.