Cruising for Customers – Food Trucks Find Hungry Mouths

While brick and mortar locations continue to produce the most consistent source of delicious meals, the food truck craze has taken over the US landscape. Some of the most unique and authentic cuisines can be found on these mobile kitchens that serve up affordable dishes in the most casual atmosphere… your local curbside. 

True, sometimes it can be a challenge to hunt down your favorite truck or maybe just flat out inconvenient as one day they are set up outside your office doors and the next day they are clear across town, many food trucks utilize social websites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to let loyal followers know their culinary coordinates.

It can be incredibly expensive to open your own restaurant, sometimes in the six figure range, but food trucks allow the American dream to come true much more affordably. For a first time restauranteur that has some classic family recipes to share with the masses the cost of a truck with a kitchen inside and a giant sticker to enshrine it can cut costs by nearly 80%! Some that are successful will then take their profits to open a permanent location but many more are translating their success into multiple trucks to further canvas their market or even open up in new metropolitan markets. Some food trucks such as Coolhaus are serving up their delicious ice cream “sammies” in multiple cities like Los Angeles, New York, Austin, Dallas and Miami. 

In most major cities the trucks are so popular that local city councils, businesses, farmer’s markets and entrepreneurs  are coordinating groups of food trucks to all park at one place as part of a set schedule week in, week out. They are like a traveling mall food court that brings every kind of cuisine possible all to one location. These are big hits with families that can never decide on what to eat. Dad can have his Chicago style hot dog, Mom can get her chinese dumplings and little Billy can get his mac and cheese.

2013-10-23 12.15.05

 

We caught up with first time restaurant owners, Phil Leggett and Chris Menard of Burnt to a Crisp. They moved to Los Angeles from Houston, Texas for a dream of making up on the silver screen. When that didn’t pan out they realized there was a severe lack of mobile Texas BBQ and who knows how to cook it better than a Texan. With a small loan from their family and a few hometown recipes they were serving up their pulled pork, tender brisket and Frito pies. When we asked them, why a food truck and not a permanent location they said they simply wanted to test the market at an affordable bottom line. Six months after raising their door for the first time they sell out of their brisket sandwiches on a daily basis and book many catering gigs for special events. Leggett says, “catering is where the good money is. The daily parking in front of Universal Studios selling to employees and patrons of the park is fun because of the people we get to interact with but being bought out for a TV filming or backyard wedding is how we pay our bills.”

 

 

2013-10-23 12.17.332013-10-23 12.26.18

 

 

 

 

 

Now You See them, Now You Don’t – Pop Ups Are All The Rage

If you have ever walked past your local coffee shop at 10pm and seen unsuspected diners feasting on meals that quite certainly were not prepared by the local barista, you have probably witnessed a Pop-Up restaurant. These restaurants often operate from locations that typically do not serve regular meal service but have a kitchen that can be rented out to an up and coming chef that can’t quite pull together the funds necessary to open their own brick and mortar location.

Similar to the food truck craze that is circling the globe, Pop-Ups are everywhere! Sometimes it can be tricky to find them or even know they exist but once you find one the food is usual unique, inventive, playful and delicious. They are usually manned by young, inspired chefs attempting to make a name for themselves.

We recently were invited by Chef Cyril Kabaoglu to experience his latest Pop-Up called Fork, Knife, Mic. In today’s culinary world, food isn’t just a means of survival but more a demonstration of arts and emotions. Fork, Knife, Mic combines the art and emotion of food with music. On this particular evening we were greeted by a Prohibition themed menu accompanied by classic jazz music.

Amaris Dupree & The Starlight Lounge Jazz Band

Amaris Dupree & The Starlight Lounge Jazz Band

 

Beef cheeks, toasted almonds, coffee roasted carrot, vanilla potato puree

Beef cheeks, toasted almonds, coffee roasted carrot, vanilla potato puree

Amaris Dupree and the Starlight Lounge Jazz Band entertained guests as they dined on dishes by Chef Cyril, Chef Jason Fullilove and Chef Eliot Pardo.

Smoked ginger pho, prawn gnocchi, lime foam, togarashi

Smoked ginger pho, prawn gnocchi, lime foam, togarashi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These masterfully made dishes by Chef Cyril really set the tone for the evening of the early 1900s themed club. Referenced as the Cotton Club after the famous Harlem, NY night spot from the same time period. The night continued with a lamb belly dish prepared by Chef Fullilove that was tender and rich.

Wheat smoked lamb belly, malted barley, bourbon glazed market vegetables, mint whip

Wheat smoked lamb belly, malted barley, bourbon glazed market vegetables, mint whip

The night concluded after a couple of gin cocktails and a classic chocolate dessert served up by Chef Pardo. We sure hope that this new trend of Pop-Up style restaurants catch on to this great combination of live music and inspired food. To find out more about Chef Cyril and his pop ups you can follow him at http://www.triptikla.com

Coca-Cola Freestyle Drink Machine Is Not for the Indecisive

It’s been near 100 degree temperatures during this Labor Day weekend and what better way to escape the heat in Los Angeles than to head to the beach. Many Los Angelenos cruise up PCH about 5 miles north of Pepperdine University and arrive at the only private beach in the county.

At Paradise Cove they are famous for their unfamiliar beverages to beach goers, alcohol! Yes, it is true that you can casually sip brews and vino on the sand but perhaps this is not the most unique beverage option that they offer. Walk up to their beach front cafe and you will see tucked inside the beach side gift shop the Coca-Cola Freestyle drink machine. Say good bye to the days of soda machines having up to 6 soda options. In an era of smartphones, tablets and wi-fi we live in a world of wanting what we want, when we want it and nothing short of that will suffice.

Coca_Cola_Freestyle_Dispenser20111012-FreestyleMachine-Maindownload (1)

Starting to gain some serious attention in the mega world of soft drinks, the Freestyle is showing up in more and more locations around America. With well over 100 drink options out of one machine you would think that this is a no brainer to replace every standard drink machine that we are all accustomed to seeing in every fast food joint, 7 Eleven and car wash. But just like all other modern day technologies there is a major down side, software freezes. The Freestyle runs on custom software and just like any other computer can suffer from bugs and viruses. 

Is this a huge improvement for the beverage industry, we say yes! With time Coca-Cola will figure out the bug fixes and we’re sure other giants like Pepsi Co. will roll out their version which will drive improvements. And what is next, Budweiser having a keg version for alcohol friendly locations such as Paradise Cove? For now we can dream.

Noodles, Noodles, Noodles. How can your Restaurant stand out from your competition when they are surrounding you?

ImageImage

ImageImage

ImageImage

This week we visited 6 noodle restaurants in Alhambra, California.  They were literally attached to each other one after another.  Pretty tough to stand out from your neighbor and attract new customers with just a sign outside.

With Restauranthopper.com you can show Colorful Menus with All your mouth watering food choices for your customers as well as Restaurant commercials and promotional videos.  You can also share your restaurants history and cuisine as well as your inspiration for your restaurant.

In today’s climate it is most important to be social.  Restauranthopper.com can help you be in the day to day social networking community.  With followers on Facebook.com, Twitter.com, pinterest.com andinstagram.com you can create a excited customer network.  Informing your new and previous customers of new specials, live shows and other important information.

We visited:
Image

Kim Lee Noodle Cafe- 1281 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra, Ca 91801
Phone:626-282-8878
Website:  None Found

Image
Noodle Guy Vietnamese Pho Restaurant- 1257 Valley Blvd. Alhambra, Ca 91801
626-284-1868
Website:  http://www.noodleguy28.com

Image

New Noodle King-  1265 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra, Ca 91801
Phone:  626-281-4836
Website:  http://www.chinesepage.com/newnoodleking

Image

My Way Hot Pot-  1261 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra 91801
Phone:  626-716-8816
Website:  None Found

Image

Flavor Garden- 1269 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra 91801
Phone:  626-284-3549
Website:  None Found

Image

Happy Garden Noodle Restaurant-  1277 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra 91801
Phone:  (626) 281-9261
Website:  None Found

Checkout www.RestaurantHopper.com to see over 45,000 restaurants with great photos, Videos, Virtual Menus, Profiles and more.

Join Free Today!  Choose to receive Specials from restaurants you have visited, favorites and places in your hopper food wishlist.

Pizza the way Grandpa used to make it at Casa Bianca Pizza Pie – Eagle Rock

Casa Bianca grandpa tossing pizza dough1

His presence is clear from the moment you walk through the door. Salvatorre Martorana, Sam to the regulars, came to this country armed with his secret family recipes for all the Italian classics that he grew up eating in Italy. When his American dream was realized in 1955 when Casa Bianca Pizza Pie opened its doors. Along with his wife, Jennie and brother, Joe Casa Bianca was a local, neighborhood hit from day one.

You ask, what separates this Italian cucina from the rest of the choices in LA. It’s that old world Italian, family designed and still operated aura that seems to still radiate from the walls. You can still see Sam’s original vision from 1955 in all facets of the restaurant.

Casa Bianca sausage prep4 

It all starts with the freshly made from scratch menu items. A specialty of the house is the pork sausage that is ground and tubed on a daily basis. Using the secret spice blend from Italy, the juicy sausage they are serving nightly is like a trip to Florence.

The amount of prep work that goes into each and every dinner service is both overwhelming and inspirational. To this kind of dedication to serving a quality product every time makes the dining experience all that much more delicious. Pizza dough rests in one corner of the kitchen while freshly sliced eggplant gets the initial breading process started.Casa Bianca pizza dough1                                     Casa Bianca eggplant parmigiana prep3

It’s really no wonder why Casa Bianca has such a loyal customer base and has been on the cover of LA Magazine for their annual Best of LA edition. And you better believe their pizza is well deserving! DSC_0038         Casa Bianca LA Magazine7  

www.RestaurantHopper.com