StreetSide Sushi – How the food business is helping breweries.
I may not intend on having a meal when I’m at the brewery but only too often, my hunger is triggered after a pint. The latest trend with food trucks sitting conveniently next to breweries is a real blessing. I think the food truck concept is a blast as I’m kinda forced into trying something I’ve never had before. I love my cheeseburgers but food diversity is good too.
My wife and I found ourselves at our local brewery (Witch’s Hat) on a date night recently and soon developed an appetite. We turned around on our bar stools to see what food truck was parked outside. It was a truck that was new to us and it served sushi, called Streetside Sushi.
Now let’s get this out of the way right now. There’s plenty of jokes about “gas station sushi” and such and we should all be careful about the food we eat. Sushi needs extra care because it is after all raw meat. So with some trepidation, we ordered 2 meals from the truck and couldn’t have been more pleased. The food was fresh, flavorful and healthy. The truck I can tell you is the cleanest food truck I have ever seen. I would eat anything off that truck (and I do). For me the most confidence building part of eating anywhere is the attitude and pride exhibited by the owners. When I approached the truck, all team members were friendly and attentive. I was so impressed with their truck and positive attitude, I pressed them for an interview on Sommbeer.
The following was an interview I and Mrs. Sommbeer conducted on another recent “date night”.
Keith Khezarjian and his wife Jeannie, invited us into their truck. When I walked in, it seemed like the space doubled somehow. Everything was shiny, clean and well thought out.
David: Do you guys focus primarily at breweries?
Keith: No, but that’s our fun part of the business. We mainly do lunches for office buildings covered parks. There was an office Park in Birmingham we started at and Kuhnen Brewing Company those were the two places that we would go to when we just started the truck. From there we got into lunches at office parks . Those (events) are great as everybody is in a big rush we get a lot of orders in 2 hours.
The brewery’s are kind of like our date night out, it’s what we like – beer. We like to hang out. It’s a great business and we meet lots of fun people.
David: That’s funny, you guys have date night here outside and we have date night inside the brewery.
Keith: <laughs> exactly
David: How does the business ebb and flow during the evening at a brewery?
Keith: Each brewery is different. Here at the Witches Hat we get a Big rush between 5:30-6:30 with people picking up their order and taking it home for dinner. Then we get another big rush around 7 with people who come back, have some beers.
David: What can you tell me about the different personalities of each brewery? Is there a rowdy one?
Keith: Yeah there actually is one but I’m not going to name names …It’s definitely one of our favorites. Every brewery we have visited has been fantastic;
Witch’s Hat, Kuhnhenn, Drafting Table and the Northville Winery
David: I’m curious, does a rowdy group equate to more business
Keith: No, no not necessarily unfortunately no. It might take more time at the window because everybody is cracking jokes.
David: What’s your biggest hurdle?
Keith: Just getting the word out there. We hear it every time no matter where we go we hear it all the time “I’m a little bit scared to get sushi from a truck”
David: See that’s weird because I walk in here and I trust this place more than any fast food.
Jeannie: It’s all fresh and what we don’t sell we throw it all out at the end of the night. We are under more scrutiny than any sushi restaurant you would go to. Everything is and has to be fresh.
David: What got you into this man?
Keith: We love our beer! One night we were drinking beers and (Keith’s wife) —- said wouldn’t it be funny if we opened up our own sushi restaurant?
We had a friend that was a sushi chef and he taught us a lot. A couple of days later we got the idea for a sushi truck.
I contacted the health department and they said no way. They said they were 95% sure they would deny us (the permit). So then it became a challenge. We went back and forth for 6 months. We are now the only sushi truck approved in Michigan other than one in Traverse City (although it has a permanent location).
David: Guys that’s a great story!
–> The interview was briefly interrupted so Keith could cut some sushi. It gave me time to marvel at all the well thought details inside the truck. The fridge was tucked perfectly under the sink, serving containers positioned to the left of the window. Even the generator outside (for electrical power) was muffled and quiet.
Every square inch of the interior had a purpose, nothing was out of order.
Keith: So finally at the end of that 6 months the inspector said we would get the permit if we did everything he requested. When we brought it to him for inspection he said I can’t believe you did exactly what you said you would do. It was the first time in their inspection process that any truck has been approved right there on the spot. No changes were required!
One final little secret;
They needed a cash register for the truck and noticed one of their children happened to have one…The register on the truck today is straight from the
toy box 🙂
We visit our brewery whenever this truck is scheduled to be there. It’s a win-win for everybody I think.