7 Meals Fit for a President

By Rosie O’Regan

In honor of Presidents’ Day, I did some internet research (i.e. Google) on our POTUSes and what they liked to eat. To no surprise, the results showed that our heads of state had very patriotic palates. These dishes range from All-American classics to twists on your old favorites–they’re delicious on their own, but they would sure look good served up on a White House platter!

George Washington, Cherries

Cherry Cheesecake Ice Cream Sandwich from Coolhaus

Our #1 guy, Mr. Washington himself, went down in history books for his honesty by admitting to his father that he had chopped down a cherry tree–“I cannot tell a lie”. Whether or not that’s the whole story, I’m willing to bet that he felled that tree for the delicious cherries that were just out of his reach. Poor George could have satisfied his cherry fix for a lot less trouble by heading over to Coolhaus and snagging one of their cherry cheesecake ice cream sandwiches.

Cheery Cheesecake Ice Cream Sandwich from Coolhaus

John F. Kennedy, New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder from Le Mirage Cafe

What’s cookin’ good lookin’? Massachusetts born and bred, JFK had a weakness for a steaming bowl of New England Clam Chowder. The president deserves the best of the best, and you just cannot beat Le Mirage Cafe’s New England Clam Chowder.

New England Clam Chowder from Le Mirage Cafe

Richard Nixon, Meatloaf

Open-Faced Meatloaf Sandwich from The Squeeze

Nixon was a fan of the true American classic–meatloaf. Every night was probably meatloaf night when he was in the White House. However, it is possible to get bored of even the most delicious standby so I’d tell the president to run over to The Squeeze and try their open-faced meatloaf sandwich on a raw bread with veggies, lacto-fermented pickles, caramelized onions and BBQ sauce. Mmgood.

Open-faced Meatloaf Sandwich from The Squeeze

Ronald Reagan, Mac ‘n Cheese

Mac & Cheese from The Milk Truck

Good ol’ mac ‘n cheese was at the top of Ronald Reagan’s list. Leading the free world is a big job, so it’s nice to unwind with a classic comfort food. The Milk Truck’s Mac & Cheese will help you refuel and get back to the Oval Office in no time!

Mac & Cheese from The Milk Truck

George W. Bush, Brisket

Big Bad Brisket from Mike N’ Willie’s

Proving that he’s a southern man through and through, George W. Bush’s number one dish is brisket. Whenever he was feeling homesick sitting in that big white house in DC, he undoubtedly asked for a meal that reminded him of the South. Mr. President, I promise that Mike N’ Willie’s Big Bad Brisket will transport your taste buds straight to Texas.

Big Bad Brisket from Mike N’ Willie’s

Barack Obama, Broccoli

Fresh Mixed Vegetables Vegetarian Platter from 99% Vegetarian 

Not sure if this is a ploy to get Sasha and Malia to eat their vegetables, but Obama claims that broccoli is his favorite food. Well, Mr. President, let me let you in on a little secret–broccoli goes great with other vegetables. Expand your palate with 99%Vegetarian’s Vegetarian Platter which is chock full of fresh mixed vegetables. Pair your favorite, broccoli, with cauliflower, carrots, mushrooms and eggplant, topped with a lemon carrot ginger sauce made from pureed carrots. I got your back, Barack.

Fresh Mixed Vegetables from 99% Vegetarian

If you have dreams of sitting in the Oval Office, this Presidents’ Day treat yourself to a meal fit for the leader of the free world. Who knows, one day it might be you making requests from the White House kitchen!

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com


Compost Company Aims to Create Green Cities

A startup in Washington D.C. is helping the District dispose of its trash and encouraging more sustainable farming practices. Compost Cab was started in March 2010 by Jeremy Brosowsky as a way to provide nutrient-rich compost to urban city farms. Every year Americans generate 250 million tons of garbage, of which one-third can be composted instead of sitting in landfills that generate methane and other greenhouse gases.

After meeting with urban farmers who go on compost runs to pick up food scraps from different homes and businesses mile away from each other, Brosowsky realized a compost business could make this process more efficient and help turn more city residents into composters. Now, for $32 a month, Compost Cab gives customers a collection basket with a sturdy compostable bag, to minimize smells and keep away pests. Customers can fill their bins with kitchen scraps that abide by the company’s rule, if it grows, it goes.

Compost Cab picks up the compost every week and drops the food waste off at a number of urban farms, which can now improve their soil and grow more food. Compost cab has been particularly successful at reaching a market that desperately wanted to compost but found it was too much hassle to get started. Doug Rand, a policy advisor at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy wanted to compost but didn’t want to collect and store trash and drive it to a dropoff each week. Now Rand and about 350 other residential customers have been recruited as customers by Compost Cab.


“I don’t think of it as the garbage business, I’m in the magic business. As I tell my kids, ‘I turn garbage into food.’ As composting become more mainstream, my job is to make sure that some significant piece of the stream gets captured for urban farms,” Brosowsky says.

Business is so successful in Washington that Compost Cab delivers about two tons of food waste to local farms every week. Brosowsky hopes to expand the business to six more cities in 2013, including Baltimore, Brooklyn and Chicago. Ultimately Brosowsky sees residential compost pickup as a short-term business, hoping that in the long run cities will pick up their own organic waste the same way they would pickup regular garbage or recycling. In San Francisco city trucks collect about 600 tons of compost every day, and Washington’s Sustainable DC task force is discussing how to make the city the “greenest” in the nation.

Although there are still challenges to the business model, customers have been overwhelmingly supportive of Compost Cab. Out of a 50 person trial run in University Park, Maryland, only one customer was dissatisfied with service. Similarly one of the few complaints about Compost Cab has been a demand for larger bins to compost even more. However urban farms can only handle so much food waste, and there are very few commercial composting facilities near the District. However Brosowsky is confident that Compost Cab will catch on in other cities, at least until city governments begin to compost themselves.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com


Public Comments Supporting Food Trucks in D.C. Suddenly Disappear

Food trucks in Washington D.C. are currently facing off against a new wave of regulations that may limit the time they can spend at certain spots and raise the penalties they can be subjected to. The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs gave Washington residents a final chance to combat these new rules by submitting their thoughts online to be considered. However when the comments were reviewed, only about 200 people, businesses and groups submitted a response before the November 13th deadline.

Now the DC Food Truck Association is adding some controversy to this story by declaring that over 1,000 letters of support for food trucks were never received. Last year over 3,000 public comments were received in response to similar regulations, marking an unusual decline in this year’s recorded responses. The DCFTA submitted the comments through the automated letter-writing site, RulesThatWork.org, according to Executive Director Che Ruddell-Tabisola.

The NYCFTA is currently looking into what could have happened to the 1000+ emails that were never received, though if it was a problem on their end it would be too late for the responses to be accepted. As of the November 13th deadline, only 43 comments had been received from RulesThatWork.org.

No one had yet suggested that sabotage may have played a part in the missing votes, but the DCFTA suspects that the issues may have been caused by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs’ email systems.

“Because DCRA was receiving emails at one point and then apparently stopped, it leads me to wonder if there was a technical change on their end, such as some kind of system update, security update, a change in a spam filter or firewall setting, etc. It looks like the last day they posted comments from RulesThatWork.org was Nov. 10, so I’m wondering if there was a change then,” said Ruddell-Tabisola.

The DCRA is denying any wrongdoing in receiving the comments, checking through junk mail folders and affirming that they posted every single comment they received. DCFTA submitted its own 20-page response outlining its problems with each regulation and offering potential solutions to replace them. The Association responded this way after hearing that public comments do not actually sway any decisions that are made, no matter how many are received. The DCFTA then had to wait ten days before meeting with the Department of Transportation to clarify the language used in the regulations, delaying their ability to conduct necessary research.

The food truck industry has also been kept busy by Hurricane Sandy, assisting efforts in New York to mobilize the New York Food Truck Association which has partnered with the city to donate free meals to thousands of displaced residents. From the standpoint of the DCFTA they generated 1,000 public comments in only five days.

While the DCRA has not announced a timeframe for reviewing the comments they have received, they announced that is their IT team finds the missing comments in a junk folder somewhere they will be accepted and posted online.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com


Catering Food Trucks Crowd the market in Washington D.C.

Around Washington DC a new breed of food trucks has gained prominence, serving food exclusively at construction sites which have dramatically increased in the last five years. These catering trucks drive to and from construction sites starting in the early morning and sometimes going late into the afternoon to feed workers that would have few other options. Since a downturn in 2008, Development in the District has picked up, raising demand for food trucks to serve construction workers who would have to bring food from home or eat at convenience stores otherwise.

However as construction sites have increased around Washington, so has the competition among the food trucks that serve them. Frank Greco is a 20-year veteran of the business and regularly serves ten construction sites around the district. Recently, competition has surged as food trucks serving products similar to his have arrived at the same sites, cutting into his profits.

“Three or four years ago, it was dead. It’s changed dramatically. Now there’s more jobs than I can handle. But there’s a lot more people selling food. I used to use more canned stuff, but you can’t do that anymore. People want homemade food now.”

Food trucks are selected by the superintendents of the various constructions sites, and most feel that Greco’s fresh food is a step above the other food trucks. But with competition increasing at these sites workers have become pickier about their food. Greco usually serves ‘guy food’, including grilled meats, entrees like lasagna, meatballs or shrimp scampi served in plastic foam containers for about $5. Greco goes through about $400 to $500 per day in food ingredients, forcing him to produce plenty of output and visit as many construction sites as possible in his 15 hour days.

Despite how heavily regulated food trucks are, Washington’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs has very little data on how much food trucks have increased in conjunction with construction. Construction catering trucks in particular are barely monitored, moving from site to site and spending a short period of time at each one.

At the site of a future Walmart that Greco’s truck usually serves, and woman in an SUV sells to-go containers of fish and chicken from the back of her car, and leaves soon afterward. Another woman in a food truck has been regularly serving food at three sites Greco’s truck visits. The construction superintendent at Walmart called the D.C. police, who requested to see the truck’s permits. The woman parked on the public side of the street, and was able to continue vending, though the SUV that left earlier was assuredly an illegal vendor.

With unprecedented levels of construction in the District, new entrants in this food truck niche market are inevitable. Although veteran food truck owners like Greco lament the new hardships associated with the business, they still enjoy the freedom of the job and the ability to cook for and interact with their customers. Greco even afford a grudging respect to the food truck that arrives before him at his usual construction sites, “She runs a good truck. I’ve got to give her credit.”

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com


Restaurant Claims Groupon Deal Forced It Out of Business

Groupon offers restaurants and local businesses an opportunity to reach new markets and seriously increase their traffic, the only catch is that businesses must offer an extremely competitive deal to Groupon in order to be featured, and then must split their profits with Groupon 50/50 and wait three months to receive their earnings, leaving many businesses in the red after a Groupon transaction.

A new restaurant in downtown Washington, D.C. has just shut its doors, claiming that Groupon is the reason why. After only three months in business the restaurant posted a scathing closing remark on its website, saying that Groupon’s practice of holding the vendor’s money for up to three months has prevented it from being able to pay employees a living wage and sell waffles for only $8.00, now charging $450 each for waffles “available by appointment only”.

One could argue that Back Alley Waffles should have read the fine print about when they get their money, or offered a smaller discount than 50% through the Groupon deal. However Groupon is extremely selective with the deals they post, as they only advertise one daily deal in each category, so vendors face heavy competition among the discounts they offer to Groupon subscribers. In fact, 7 of every 8 offers are rejected by Groupon. With a 50% discount customers were paying $4 per waffle, of which Groupon kept 50% of, giving the restaurant a grand total of $2 per waffle, distributed over the course of 3 months.

Back Alley Waffles is not the first restaurant to cite Groupon as a cause of a decline in profits. The owner of Posies Café in Oregon said that Groupon was “the single worst decision I have ever made as a business owner thus far.” Groupon cost this restaurant almost $10,000, caused crowding and in the end produced no regular customers.

A Groupon spokewoman issued a statement in response to the Back Alley Waffles’ allegations, “According to our records, only 132 Groupons, or 18% have been redeemed since Back Alley ran its deal two months ago, and Mr. Nelson has received 2/3 of his share of the revenue to date. We always hate to hear that a local business has decided to close, but the math does not point to Groupon as the cause.”

Rice University released a study this month that only 44% of daily deals for restaurants and bars are actually profitable for the restaurant. However restaurant owners should be aware of what they are signing up for; daily deals sites have been popping up in many different sectors lately and businesses all have different ideas of what to expect. Groupon offers an initial surge in business, useful for a new restaurant or company with a high markup on their products or a sufficient amount of capital to weather through the first few months. However Groupon users do not necessarily turn into regular customers, and many users simply surf Groupon for deals rather than returning to a restaurant they have been to.

According to Back Alley Waffles’ Yelp page, they often ran out of ingredients and made customers wait up to an hour for waffles. Though they may have had a great product, the majority of Yelp users complained about the poor service they experienced at the restaurant. While there is no way for us to determine what exactly caused this restaurant to close, let this be an example to any restaurant signing up with a Daily Deals company. Always read the fine print and take a good look at your costs per product to see just how far in the red you may have to go until your profits start to rise.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com


Baltimore Takes Home the Trophy at ‘A Taste of Two Cities’

Saturday’s epic faceoff between Baltimore and Washington D.C. food trucks, entitled ‘A Taste of Two Cities’ ended with Baltimore taking the top honors. The weather was perfect on Saturday, and the event was a huge success for both cities that participated and for all those who attended the event.

Baltimore’s Gypsy Queen Café went home with the top honors from this competition, a food truck specializing in gourmet sandwiches, burgers and tacos, including a crab cake taco that I would wait a very long time in those lines to try. Souper Freak, serving cold soups such as Japanese edamame vichyssoise won the Baltimore People’s Choice award, and The Cajunator won the award for D.C. Washington’s Red Hook Lobster took second place, and Baltimore’s Miss Shirley’s got third.

There was a definite spirit of cooperation between the two cities at the Westport Waterfront in Maryland on Saturday. Three dozen trucks attended the event in all, armed with the knowledge that pleasing their respective cities and uniting would help them all get closer to getting what they need.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, a self-proclaimed food truck supporter, attended on Saturday as well. “When you see an event like this that brings two cities together in the spirit of friendly competition it makes me feel that I made the right decision in supporting the food trucks. Food trucks really speak to the personality of the city.”

Organizers estimated that about 5,000 people came through to the event by 4 p.m., and about 12,000 in all by the end of the day. Pre-Baseball partiers made up a large part of the crowd, and given the success of the event it will be held again next year. Until then, Baltimore reigns as the champion, and the Winner’s Cup will remain there until the next face-off.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com


Baltimore and Washington D.C. Food Trucks Unite at ‘A Taste of Two Cities’

Baltimore and Washington D.C. have two great mobile food communities, with plenty of food trucks and events throughout the summer. Now the two cities are planning a joint venture, called ‘A Taste of Two Cities’ which will be a friendly competition between their respective food trucks.

The event will be held this Saturday from 11am – 7pm at the Westport Waterfront in Charm City. A panel of six judges will preside over the event and the thirty trucks in attendance and crown the best food truck out of Baltimore and Washington D.C. with the Mayor’s Cup. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will be in attendance as well, and even present the winning truck with the Mayor’s Cup.

The D.C. Food Truck Association is expecting this event to be a major step for the mobile vending community in solidifying its role with the city and with eaters. However the Maryland Mobile Food Vendors Association is viewing the event in a slightly different light.

“Baltimore always has had an inferiority complex about Washington,” says Damian Bohager, a board member and event organizer. “This is a chance for Baltimore to step up and be a big-time big city. I kind of think we have a home-field advantage because we have some really good food truck.”

Baltimore’s food truck scene is still considerably smaller than Washington’s, with the Charm City area hosting about thirty trucks versus over 100 licensed vendors in Washington D.C. proper. However Baltimore has come farther than the District in terms of food truck rules and regulations. Last year Baltimore food trucks made peace with brick-and-mortar restaurants, while Washington’s government continues to delay at reaching an equitable food truck agreement.

A Taste of two Cities aims to demonstrate the spirit of community between all mobile food vendors, by lining up Washington and Baltimore vendors one-by-one next to each other. Visitors will get free admission to the event, but will have to pay for food from each truck they visit.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com


Zombie Apocalypse Themed Food Truck Hits DC

A new food truck that launched in Washington D.C. is the first documents zombie apocalypse themed food truck. The truck is called Pho Junkies, and serves Vietnamese pho soup. Created by Virginia natives Woo Lee and Luan Vo, the two friends decided to start their own food truck to emulate Lee’s parents’ Vietnamese restaurant. After struggling to find employment after graduation, creating a food truck seemed like the perfect decision.

The zombie themes of the truck originates from Lee and Vo’s obsession with zombies while growing up, and obsession that they have carried into adult life. The duo declared that they didn’t just want to paint a truck a bright color and slap a name on it. Instead they designed the truck to be a perfect zombie killing machine by painting blood spatter, armored panels and fire-blasting exhaust pipes. The truck was modeled after the zombie-killing vehicle featured in the end of Dawn of the Dead, though the truck in the film also had chainsaws, machine guns and barbed wire.

The truck has many nods to popular zombie culture as well, reflecting the owners’ current interests in zombie fanfare such as AMC’s The Walking Dead and the Resident Evil video games. The truck has several shout-outs to modern zombie culture, with a sticker saying “I believe in Rick Grimes”, a main protagonist in The Walking Dead. The truck also features an umbrella logo meant to symbolize the evil Umbrella Corporation in the resident Evil franchise.

Lee and Vo work hard to recreate the zombie feel at Pho Junkies by the way they interact with their consumers. A look at their Twitter shows how they call customers “survivors” and use clever slogans to convince consumers they really are eating from a zombie truck. In addition to pho, the truck offers several side order options.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com


D.C. Food Trucks Struggle to Reach a Compromise

In Washington DC, another city teeming with both food trucks and regulation controversy, a new proposal involving “vending development zones” has been announced. With this new strategy neighborhoods can decide how many mobile and sidewalk vendors can populate their area, as a means to appease brick-and-mortar restaurants.

The D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs is responsible for this initiative, in response to 19 months of debating over how to update current regulations that do not apply to the modern era of mobile vendors. Still a proposal, this would need to be approved by D.C.’s Council in order to become official law.

Under the new proposals, the previous “ice cream truck” rules which require mobile vendors to leave their locations when they have no lines will be eliminated. With the new proposal, food trucks can remain in a spot until the parking meter expires.

The new rules will be a huge improvement for food truck owners. Co-owner of Curbside Cupcakes and executive director of the D.C. Food Truck Association, Kristi Whitfield said, “That alone is going to make it a lot more reasonable for food trucks to operate their business. I think that is a tremendous step forward for the city.”
However, sweet and savory vendors are separated by this rule, as ice cream and dessert trucks may still only stay in their locations for ten minutes if there are no customers in line. The different rules are apparently because savory trucks have to take more time to prepare their food, a time-consuming process that dessert trucks do not have to deal with.

Overall, the vending development zone rule has done the most to appease both the food trucks and brick and mortar restaurants the most. Community organizations will have the authority to submit proposals to create certain zones where the number of vendors at a certain time can be limited. In this way high profile areas with many restaurants can be monitored to prevent too many food trucks at once parking in the same space. So far feedback has been mixed on this proposition, which will soon be voted on.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

Food Truck Controversy Hits Washington D.C.

Conflicts between food trucks and brick and mortar restaurants are beginning to escalate in Washington DC, similar to the same clashes occurring throughout the country between restaurants and mobile vendors. Most of the lobbying in DC has come from big, established restaurants, trying to root out Washington’s new mobile food trend.

Currently, there are an estimated 80 food trucks within the city. The Fojol Brothers is the first food truck to come to Washington DC, serving their inaugural meal on the day of President Obama’s inauguration. Altogether, food trucks account for about 400 jobs in Washington DC, a number that may be in jeopardy by the more established restaurant industry.

Some call it a typical David and Goliath story, with the food truck owners working to start up their own business only to receive objections from well grounded, politically connected restaurants. The same trend is occurring throughout the country, with food trucks being zoned and forced to park away from restaurants. In Monrovia, California, food trucks are banned from the old town district entirely.

Food trucks in Washington have been safe thus far, but a legal battle is playing out between closed doors in which restaurants are maneuvering in favor of their interests. For food truck patrons, the new appetite they’ve acquired for food trucks may soon be at risk.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com