Ann Arbor restaurateur Sava Lelcaj wanted a way to introduce her food and brand to Detroiters.
Lelcaj operates two restaurants and one fresh food market in downtown Ann Arbor, and she has no plans to leave the city as she grows her company.
But to help expand the Savco brand outside of the downtown Ann Arbor area, Lelcaj plans to launch a business on wheels this spring. She purchased a truck and plans to convert it into a new food venture called General’s Mobile Coney.
“We are trying to extend our brand a little bit and learn a little more about Ann Arbor,” Lelcaj said.
She added: “We feel like we are the type of company that should do something in Detroit, but with the way we run our locations so hands-on, we couldn’t be in another county. We will bring a little bit of Ann Arbor to Detroit. We got hooked up with the food truck folks there and we’re doing the Detroit Electronic Music Festival next month.”
Lelcaj, under her parent company Savco Hospitality Inc., operates Sava’s Restaurant, babo market and Aventura restaurant in downtown Ann Arbor.
She recently signed a lease for a 9,700-square-foot space on Boardwalk Drive and plans to open a grab-and-go market with a coffee roasting operation, a commissary kitchen, a packaging and labeling room, an area to prepare fresh juices, catering offices and a classroom to train employees.
The food truck is getting a makeover in the next couple weeks before General’s Mobile Coney is up and running. The truck will visit different office parks in Ann Arbor and will also be used for events.
“When we came to (our space on Boardwalk Drive) we started asking people, ‘Where are you guys eating?’” Lelcaj said. “I tossed out the idea of a food truck and everyone got so excited. We want to take the food truck and hit some of these industrial plazas and provide lunch for people.”
The truck also provides a way to improve on-site catering, since food can be served fresh at the event, said Felicia Viening, Savco’s director of operations and a longtime employee of Lelcaj’s.
“We have a couple off-site large weddings in the summer, so the food truck comes with us and the food is that much fresher because we’re able to finish it off on-site,” Viening said.
Lelcaj said General’s Mobile Coney will serve “good spins on classic coney food.” Menu items include things like braised beef pierogies, Greek salads and corn dogs.
“It’s a little tribute to Detroit and it gives us a lot of flexibility with our menu,” Lelcaj said.
The food truck will employ about five people. Savco Hospitality Inc. has about 300 employees.