Food trucks parking it for good

Why 4 Chicago food trucks are opening permanent storefronts

  • Bang Bang Pie Shop partners Michael Ciapciak, Megan Miller and Dave Miller at their coming-soon bakery at 2051 N California Ave.
Bang Bang Pie Shop partners Michael Ciapciak, Megan Miller and Dave Miller… (Lenny Gilmore )
November 22, 2011|By Renee Mailhiot | For RedEye

Food trucks have been popping up all over the city as part of the latest culinary craze, but they still face the challenge of on-board cooking being illegal according to local laws. While fans continue to lobby the city for change, some truck owners have been able to give their business some staying power by turning their mobile brand into permanent storefronts.

Homage Street Food
Opening a restaurant inspired by global street food has always been the plan for husband-and-wife duo Mike and Elaine Maloney. Launching a truck, though, was a safe entry point into the food biz without a major investment. Homage Street Food started peddling its international snacks, such as a Peruvian pork sandwich and noodle dishes, this summer, but having its kitchen based in the suburbs wasn’t cutting it. In late October,  the owners decided to take over an old hot dog stand in the back of Lizard’s Liquid Lounge (3058 W. Irving Park Road) to cook the goods for their truck during the day and feed hungry bargoers at night. The Maloneys eyeing a storefront in Logan Square and hope to have something in the works come springtime. For now, follow them on Twitter @HomageSF for updates.

Bang Bang Pie Shop
If all went according to plan, Dave and Megan Miller never would have started a food truck. This husband-and-wife team—he’s a former owner of Ipsento who’s roasted coffee for Dark Matter and Star Lounge; she’s the brains behind the baking—originally set out to open a storefront to sell their hand-held pies and killer coffee. But when they had trouble finding the right location, they decided to launch a truck to get their name out there in the meanwhile. The truck’s popularity in Logan Square led the Millers to put down roots in the neighborhood, and their shop is due to around Dec. 12 at 2051 N. California Ave. While they sold their original truck, a smaller one may hit the streets once warmer weather returns. Follow @bangbangpie on Twitter to track the store’s opening.

The Southern Mac and Cheese Store
Getting in on the mobile food movement was all that chef Cary Taylor of The Southern had in mind when he created his own food truck, The Southern Mac Truck. Thinking that mac ’n’ cheese would make an easy meal to pack and haul around the city, he launched the operation out of The Southern’s kitchen, which turned out to be easier said than done when the restaurant was busy on the weekends. Out of that need for more mac-cooking space, a permanent restaurant opened at 60 E. Lake St. in the Loop in late September, and this location will continue to fuel the truck as well as serve dine-in customers. Follow @TheSouthernMac on Twitter for updates.

5411 Empanadas
As a warm-up to opening an empanadas restaurant, Nicolas Ibarzabal launched 5411 Empanadas as a catering and delivery-only service about two and a half years ago. As food trucks started to pick up speed elsewhere in the country and here in Chicago, Ibarzabal packed up his delivery van with a tasty lineup of hand-held pastries and joined the mobile food movement. In a few months, Ibarzabal will open a storefront at a yet-to-be-announced location in Lincoln Park. The new restaurant will continue to stock the truck, which will continue its usual route—and perhaps fuel a second truck if business goes well. Follow @5411Empanadas on Twitter for news on the store’s opening.

Read more about Chicago food trucks on metromix.com.

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