Street Food Profiles: Fusion Cafe in Columbus, Ohio
What's on the menu? Our "menu" is rotational in that we feature something different each day, each week. Our cuisine ranges from Caribbean, Latin and American. Here are some examples: jerk chicken wings with blackberry dipping sauce, bison sliders, mango-blueberry crème brûlée, veggie kebabs, fusion-style dogs (all beef hot dogs wrapped in bacon with cheese, black beans and slaw), stewed goat.
Hours and location? Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday outside Dick's Den from 9 p.m. until we sell out; Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Blendon Township farmers' market; and Wednesday at The Columbus Museum of Art.
How long have you been street fooding? A couple months.
How has Twitter helped business? We have 71 followers. It's very useful in that we post the day's rotations and locations prior to heading out.
Why a mobile business over brick-and-mortar? Three reasons: 1) I have dreamed of having a mobile restaurant for almost 15 years. 2) I like the idea of going to my customers rather than waiting for them to come to us. 3) Lower overhead/costs.
Who are your typical customers? Patrons of Dick's Den (best place for live jazz in Columbus!), local foodie groups, bar patrons, museum employees, State Auto Insurance associates, Ohio State students, neighboring residents. And for our regulars, in an effort to be green, we'll take back your plastic fork, wash/rinse and sanitize it, put a number of your choosing on it in Sharpie and store it in a Ziploc bag until your next visit.
Describe a typical day from start to finish. An average day consists of the following: logging of the prior day or night's sales and usage; food prep and marketing; loading needed equipment onto the restaurant; battery/power plant re-charging; fueling truck and generator; getting the hot water heater and cooler to proper temperatures; loading food and travel to location; setting up for service; cooking and customer interaction; break down and travel back to home base.
What were you doing before this? I have been employed in the hospitality industry for 20+ years.
What makes your food special? The fusion of the ingredients, flavors and styles of cuisine. And as far as I know, we are the only truly green mobile restaurant here in Columbus and maybe the state of Ohio.
How would you define 'street food'? Anything prepared or made street-side as you watch and wait.
Best street food city and why: I think New York City has about the widest variety of street food vendors.
Comfort food after a long day? My wife's stewed oxtails, macaroni pie and lentils.
Any advice for aspiring vendors? Do your homework. Take a business or entrepreneurs training course. Be on top of learning your city and states laws and regulations. Serve something outside the "norm" at a good price, fair portions and be anal about cleanliness.. and LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!
About the Author: A student in Providence, Rhode Island, Leah Douglas loves consuming and learning about as much food as possible. She blogs at Feasting on Providence.