RIP Rebel Heroes, Mazel Tov Big Cheese Truck

by ARLnow.com December 8, 2010 at 3:30 pm 4,951 21 Comments

The insurrection has been quelled.

Arlington’s Rebel Heroes truck has closed for good, reports Tim Carman.

The banh mi sandwich truck launched to critical acclaim and long lines in April. It apparently did not generate enough business to justify its existence for another year.

Carman, who just defected from Washington City Paper to the Washington Post, says that Rebel Heroes served its last customers on Oct. 8. A month later, the business was closed and the truck was sold, without so much as a tweet announcing the move.

Like Che Guevara, the Rebel Heroes brand will live on in the memory of its followers. The truck itself, however, is soldiering on. It was sold to a local restaurant manager who has converted it into The Big Cheese — a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich truck.

We’ve been following the truck on Twitter as it prepares to launch in Arlington. When it does, be sure to pour out a little of whatever gourmet soda it sells, in memory of our fallen comrade.

Update on 12/9/10 — From the Rebel Heroes Facebook page:

Hi Rebels, As some of you have heard from the media today, we’ve had to take the rebellion back underground. We’re all working on other projects and between everything that’s happening with our own projects (such as graphic design work/ consulting forme and babies arriving in the Spring for some of us–we are a family business after all) and the amount of resources (time being a major one) it requires on many levels, it’s best to go out on top! I can’t express how much I’ll miss seeing all of our regular customers. That’s really what kept me and the frontline team (Liz & Eileen) going all those crazy days on the hot truck. But I don’t want to say there won’t be another revolution! Anything can happen! Thanks so much for your support and patronage. We won’t forget all of you! You all rock! Please feel free to hit me up at [removed] 🙂 — xoxo, TAN

  • diane

    My goodness! This is shocking. They must’ve had a horrible business plan! Sad.

  • Katie

    That doesn’t make a lot of sense.

  • mehoo

    Mmmmm, grilled cheese.

  • YTK

    The Banh is dead, long live the Cheese.

  • Veeta

    Not a bit of sense–there were always lines. For some reason, I feel attached to the thing, so an explanation would be nice.

  • Slow

    Business probably would have been better if they could have made a sandwich faster than the 20 minutes it took them to make them sometimes.

    • AllenB

      I have to agree. I wish they could have made a better go of it, but the service was really slow and I may be in the majority but the couple of times I did buy a sandwich there, it wasn’t very good. Kinda ordinary.

    • MeatEatinMachine

      Seems to be on par with the “American way” – where’s my food dammit, why is it cold, you only gave me 9 napkins. I demand 10 napkins!

  • Westover 2

    From what I gather, the food truck business is very difficult, with thin margins. Long hours on your feet in a non-climate controlled vehicle, surprisingly high vehicle maintenance costs, impatient customers also exposed to the elements… but low barriers to entry. That said, even a “successful” truck needs to be managed well to make out a thin margin. The food has to be good, the location has to be good, but the management has to be great. If a vehicle or piece of equipment is disabled, one could lose a day’s worth of sales plus repair costs. Also, casual customers can’t assume that just because it’s busy one day means it’s busy all the time. We need to do our part to support small businesses whenever we can.

  • NomNom

    I should have known it when they ran out of shrimp chips!

  • ty

    I am so excited about the grilled cheese truck! Can’t wait for it to come to crystal city 🙂

  • Katie

    Grilled cheese, no thanks say my thighs.

  • Dan

    “Like Che Guevara, the Rebel Heroes brand will live on in the memory of its followers.”

    Just in case anyone missed your metatphor…I have heard that Che loved grilled cheese as well !!

    • mehoo

      I like grilled Che.

  • the interconnectiveness of all things (with apologies to Mont Co)

    On the day that ArlNow reports the occurence of butt-grabbings-by-bike, an over-abundance of cats, and slow traffic there comes two, not just one, stories of dead subs. Long live the big cheese…. which kinda sticks it all together, n’est pa? Or did someone “Next Pa!”

    • mehoo

      Two dead subs. Not bad, the interconnectiveness of all things (with apologies to Mont Co, not bad.

  • MC

    What a shame, Rebel had a devoted following, a tasty offering, and made some folks in DC envious they didn’t work in Arlington. It was also the perfect Arlington food: banh mi is Vietnamese, a once common type of food in the R-B corridor, but as street truck food well adapted to shifting demographics of more office workers. I have to go to Falls Church to find banh mi now.

  • Nooooooooo! Their sandwiches were delicious (especially the #2 meatball) and it made me wish my office was in Arlington so I could go there more often. Like Westover 2 said, though, running a food cart is a thin-margin business, and I’m sorry they weren’t coming back in the spring. If the owner ever started working at a local place to eat I know I’d cheerfully go there whenever I could. Those were darn good sandwiches.

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  • muckraker

    I am really, really bummed. This quickly became one of my fave places to eat. I took long lunch breaks from work in downtown DC to go there. And made special trips to Rosslyn/Ballston just for them if I had a weekday off! Sadness.


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