By Felicia D’Ambrosio | FlyingKiteMedia.com
UPDATE (7/18/11) — So it’s been less than a week since we published this story about the colorful, comforting awesomeness that is Far From Home Cafe, and already big things are happening for the dynamic duo of Larry Comroe and Wade Smith.
They announced on the Far From Home website on Monday that they’re pursuing a book deal and consulting opportunity that involves the national mobile food truck scene. The gig involves traveling around the country, so they’ll be ditching their vibrant, tricked out truck.
Fear not — the truck and business are for sale — so there is an opportunity to keep Far From Home in Philly. Their last day will be Thursday, so hurry over to Love Park to catch Philly’s “No. 1 favorite empanadas!”
Debuted: Larry Comroe and Wade Smith’s Philadelphia iteration of their Far From Home Cafe food truck launched on one of the coldest days of the year: February 10, 2011. The truck has its roots in St. Thomas, where the pair began slinging a worldly array of comfort food in Crown Bay in August of 2009. “It was 8 degrees the first day on East Passyunk Ave,” recalls Comroe. “The 90-degree temperature swing [from the island to Philly] really hurt!”
Resume: “Wade worked in [practically] every restaurant on St. Thomas,” says Comroe, who served as food and beverage director for Marriott Hotels, opening and running restaurants for the chain on the island. “It’s funny, because the truck was built in Philadelphia and shipped to St. Thomas,” says Comroe. “It was modeled to meet the historic standards of downtown–the gingerbread is original to Main St. on St. Thomas–and we shipped it back here.”
Business Plan: When asked what makes Far From Home Cafe different from the bevy of vendors roaming Philadelphia, Comroe quickly responded, “It’s simple and straightforward: we have a full restaurant onboard. Deep fryer, griddle, two-burner, grill. We’re completely set up as a full restaurant, so we can adapt to literally anything. We have a simple food philosophy: we like making good food–not fancy–but good ingredients and good food.”
Edible Outcome: “We moved back to be closer to family,” explained Comroe in a telephone conversation, “but it’s been a real culinary and cultural experience to see how wide the palates of Philadelphians have grown. It’s been 20 years since I last lived here, and I’m amazed how willing the locals are to not just try new things, but embrace them. Empanadas have been on our menu since St. Thomas, but we weren’t sure how Philadelphians would react. As it turns out, people have gone crazy for them.”
Pros Know: Voted “Best Burgers” in the Carribbean, Comroe suggests new guests go for the Jerk Burger, which is spiced up with the same jerk seasoning the pair used in St. Thomas. “A good jerk seasoning is hard to get!” adds Comroe. “Of course, everyone should give our empanadas a try, and our veggie burgers. Every item on our menu has a vegetarian version that stands on its own. We had a very large Rasta population in St. Thomas who take their veggies very seriously, so our veggie burgers are never an afterthought.”
Get It: LOVE Park at 15th & JFK Blvd., Mon.-Fri., 11am-3pm
FELICIA D’AMBROSIO is a Philadelphia-based food writer. Her work also appears in City Paper, GRID, Metro, and Keystone Edge. Send feedback