While so many New York City-style dining halls have sprung up around Denver such as Edgewater Public Market or Zeppelin Station, these three restaurant veterans have created their own mobile food court with the same idea. Foodhalla – a mobile food truck serving three different dishes – officially launched mid-October. The owners, Jesus “Seus” Olaya, Nicole Zajac and Alan Berger noticed the popularity of the food market and ghost kitchen invading the Denver food scene. Jumping straight into bricks and mortar would be too expensive and unstable during a pandemic, so mobile food court ideas are cost-effective and innovative for this trio.
While serving three different menus from one truck may seem chaotic, the Foodhalla team has found a way to utilize ingredients and segments of the kitchen area to prevent cross-contamination. The truck offers three concepts from Spudnation, Bodega Cuban Kitchen to Seoul Brothas.
Currently, the only fully operational concept is Bodega Cuban Kitchen with Spudnation expected in early December and Seoul Brothas soon to follow. Bodega Cuban Kitchen’s menu is inspired by the childhood of Olaya who grew up in south Florida. Although Olaya is a worthy Colombian, her appreciation of Cuban culture has inspired a menu with three staple sandwiches, four snacks and two desserts.
Includes sandwiches Cuban man ($ 11) is classic slow roast pork, ham slices, melted Swiss cheese on a Cuban roll, Turkey Midnight ($ 10) is turkey, ham slices, melted Swiss cheese on a sweet potato roll and Bread With Lechon ($ 13) is slow roast pork, pickled onions, melted Swiss cheese, coriander garlic crema on a Cuban roll.
In the work, Spudnation is an adaptation of USA Potatoes. Initially, this potato marketing and research organization used a marketing food truck called Spudnation to promote potatoes and more than 2,500 potato farmers in the US. The creators of Foodhalla received permission to fully use the name as a way to create a potato-centered food concept. Spudnation uses Colorado-grown potatoes and local, seasonal ingredients to make a variety of loaded potato meals. The menu will feature six choices, three regular and three sweet potatoes with endless toppings.
While loaded potatoes and Cuban food were covered in the first two concepts, Berger created them Brothas Seoul as a nod to her Korean descent using family-inspired recipes. The menu will include three slices of Korean fried chicken, popular Korean street food such as corn cheese, Kalbi ribs with kimchi, Korean fried chicken sandwich, and Texas-inspired Frito pie.
Although the mobile food court idea leaves room for ever-changing concepts, the team wants to maintain and develop these three brands.
“The feedback has been phenomenal; we plan to keep the brand on the truck and develop it into bricks and mortar in the future, “said Olaya.
With so much uncertainty in the food industry, concepts like mobile food courts, ghost kitchens, and home food businesses can change the face of a Denver restaurant. Starting a new business at a time like this involves a lot of risks.
“Since we are quite new to the market, we hope that more entrepreneurs will take the same risks and continue growing. With a more creative business model, those new faces will push the envelope and literally shake things up, “says Olaya.
Foodhalla can be found parked at 17th Street and Chestnut Place in Denver unless otherwise stated on line.
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