The new Hot Hot Bakery food cart is spending its first day on the streets of Arlington today, featuring freshly baked croissants and other French inspired fare.
Chris Deutsch and his wife Amy Fuller spent a year baking and training in Paris in preparation for opening a food business in Arlington. Deutsch, who is part French, grew up eating the type of pastries featured in his food cart.
“I used to work for the State Department but it wasn’t for me. I wanted to follow my passion and get into the food industry,” he said. “My mother is French so I’ve always loved this kind of baked goods, baguettes, croissants. I just felt that there was a need in this area for that kind of baking.”
“I signed on for that knowing that Enzo (Algarme) and Anastasiya (Laufenberg) would kind of allow me to run my own business at some point with their help, and here we are,” said Deutsch.
Algarme and Laufenberg even allowed Deutsch to use the old cart that helped them get their start in 2007, eventually leading to the opening of a brick and mortar location in 2010.
“This is their old cart that they used. It takes a lot of work to run the restaurant so they couldn’t really use the cart and they offered it up to me,” said Deutsch.
Hot Hot Bakery operates out of a cart and not a truck, so it can stay in one location for most of the day without being required to move. Deutsch plans to spend most of his time serving customers in the Ballston area because it’s so close to Pupatella, where he bakes his pastries in the wee hours of the morning.
Customers can enjoy sandwiches on house made breads baked with organic flours. Eventually there will be lunch specials and perhaps a few different donuts added to the menu. For now, Deutsch says he’s sticking to the basics, such as the croissants he has spent so much time training to make.
“It’s not rocket science but it’s tricky dough. I really wanted to bring the kind of croissants I grew up eating in Paris here. No offense to any bakers or bakeries in this area, but it’s hard to find this kind of baked goods,” said Deutsch. “What I do with the process of making these baked goods is that I let the dough take its time. When it’s ready to move on to the next step, that’s when I’ll go ahead. A lot of bakers will pump stuff full of yeast and put it in a hot chamber to make the process go really fast. But to get nice bread and nice croissants, you have to let it just hang out, basically.”
As far as the name Hot Hot Bakery, that also stems from Deutsch’s time in France.
“My grandmother lived in the south of France along the beaches. Along the beach is a guy who sells hot peanuts. He would go around screaming ‘Hot, hot peanuts!'” Deutsch said. “I was telling my twin brother and sister-in-law that I swear it’s the same guy doing it for the past 25 years. That’s how it came up and it kind of stuck.”
In order to cater to both the lunch and the breakfast crowds, the cart will be open from 8:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., earlier than many of the other mobile food options. Customers can follow Hot Hot Bakery on Twitter to find out the cart locations on Tuesdays through Fridays.
The Green Eggs and Burgers cart first started serving customers in October, from an underused parking lot in Bethesda. Today, the cart also started serving Rosslyn. The cart is serving breakfast and lunch today on N. Lynn Street, according to the cart’s Twitter account.
Green Eggs and Burgers’ menu includes breakfast items like an egg sandwich, pancakes, french toast, a french toast egg sandwich and omelettes. Lunch items include burgers and fries.
The cart specializes in “organically fresh” food. According to the owners, the eggs used are cage-free and organic, and the flour, burgers, toppings and even the coffee are organic.
The bright yellow cart, which is operated by two sets of brothers, plans to serve Bethesda, Rosslyn and Stafford County on a rotating basis.
Founder Osiris Hoil tells ARLnow.com that the new location, at 1309 F Street NW near Metro Center, will open to the public on Friday. Hoil, who launched the District Taco cart in 2009 after being laid off from a construction job, called new restaurant “my American dream” on Twitter.
The D.C. eatery is District Taco’s second location. Hoil opened the original restaurant, at 5723 Lee Highway in Arlington, in November 2010.
Hoil says El Toro — the District Taco cart that parks in various parts of Arlington during the week — will be out of service for a “couple weeks” to allow the company to focus on training staff and getting the new restaurant off the ground.
Photo via Twitter
The new District Taco restaurant will be located at 1309 F Street NW, near Metro Center. It will be District Taco’s second brick-and-mortar location, after its popular Arlington location on Lee Highway. Owner Osiris Hoil tells ARLnow.com that he hopes to be able to open the D.C. eatery at some point this spring.
Partly on account of the effort to complete the build-out, and partly on account of the cold weather, District Taco has garaged its popular, battle-scarred food cart — dubbed “El Torito” — for the next couple of months.
“El Torito should be back in the spring,” Hoil said.
Over the weekend, Pedro & Vinny’s opened in the tiny (repainted, non-mobile) building that once housed Santa Ana Restaurant on Columbia Pike, in the parking lot between the CVS Pharmacy and the new Penrose Square apartments.
Pedro & Vinny’s Pike outpost is not owned by cart proprietor John Rider. Rather, it’s the first Pedro & Vinny’s franchise, owned and operated by the owner of the former Santa Ana Restaurant.
Regardless, many of the elements that led Zagat to declare Pedro & Vinny’s 15th and K Street cart “one of the ‘best cheap lunches Downtown'” — including fresh ingredients and signature sauces — can now be found on the Pike. Just don’t expect much beyond the raved-about food. The (outdoor) dining area, which sits in a parking lot with views of a cement wall and of the CVS parking lot, is as no-frills as the Pedro & Vinny’s web site.
Rider’s daughter, Kristen, who once ran a second Pedro & Vinny’s cart at 19th and L Street, is helping to get the old Santa Ana crew up to speed on her family’s way of doing things. She expects to be on board long enough to see the location’s grand opening, which should take place in 2-3 weeks. Then, Kristen will work to get the second cart up and running in a new location: Crystal City.
Rider expects the Crystal City cart to be serving customers at some point this fall. She said that she’s excited to be doing business in Arlington, since it was “red tape” in the District that prompted her to shut down the cart last fall.
The restaurant, at 2599 Columbia Pike, plans to stay open until 11:00 p.m. on weekdays and 3:00 a.m. on weekends. More photos after the jump.
Hat tips to Jordan H. and Rebecca K.
Two weeks after the District Taco cart flipped over on Lee Highway at the height of the morning rush hour, there’s more vehicular trouble for the popular food cart.
The bright yellow van that tows the cart was involved in a fender bender this morning in nearly the same location as the first accident — on Lee Highway at Lynn Street in Rosslyn. Twitter user @heryandotus captured the scene from a nearby building. It appears that a car swerved into the van’s lane, sideswiping it. Luckily, the van and the cart were able to continue on to Crystal City to serve breakfast tacos.
“It’s fixed, Amigo!” District Taco said on its Twitter account.
Image via @heryandotus
District Taco Cart Returns — Just two days after it flipped over in the middle of a busy entrance ramp, the District Taco cart was patched up and serving crowds of customers at the Courthouse Farmers Market.
McAuliffe to Headline LGBT Fundraiser — Terry McAuliffe — who’s said to be considering another run for the Virginia governor’s mansion — is headlining a fundraiser for the Virginia Partisans, the Political Action Committee of the LGBT Democrats of Virginia. The fundraiser, which seeks to raise $40,000 for Democratic state Senate candidates, is being held at the house of County Board member Jay Fisette on July 14.
Endorsements in Delegate Race — There have been two significant endorsements in the Democratic primary battle for the 49th District House of Delegates seat. Alfonso Lopez has been endorsed by Jay Fisette, while Stephanie Clifford has been endorsed by retiring state Sen. Patsy Ticer. Fisette called Lopez “an effective advocate for Arlington and our values in Richmond.” Ticer was scheduled to make an appearance at a Clifford fundraiser Friday night.
DARPA Developing Killer Laser — Arlington’s own Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is developing a new, high-energy laser weapon that could someday be mounted on fighter jets, armored vehicles and patrol ships. [Military and Aerospace Electronics]
Mysterious Brown Flip Flop Spotted — A lone brown flip flop was spotted floating in a fountain near Circa restaurant in Clarendon Sunday morning. The intriguing sight was dubbed by Clarendon Culture as “the quintessence of Clarendon.” [Lockerz, Clarendon Culture]
Fans of the District Taco cart won’t be able to get their lunchtime burrito fix today.
The cart flipped over this morning on the ramp from Lee Highway to I-66/Roosevelt Bridge in Rosslyn. On Twitter, District Taco blamed a broken tow hitch for the mishap.
“The life of a food trucker is not easy,” @districttaco lamented. “This is one of the problems that we have to face.”
No one was hurt in the incident. District Taco’s brick-and-mortar restaurant at 5723 Lee Highway is, of course, still open.
Photo via @districttaco
Capital Empanadas will serve “freshly-made Andean-style empanadas” to denizens of the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor and, in a few weeks, Crystal City as well.
The cart’s owner, Richard Villegas, is a native of Colombia and a ten-year Arlington resident. Villegas says he is “thrilled” to introduce this “unique treat” to the area.
“Our Andean-style handmade empanadas have typical flavors from our beloved Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru,” the Capital Empanadas web site says. “We put our heart and soul into our empanadas and you’ll feel the love once you meet us and enjoy them.”
The Capital Empanadas menu includes:
- Meat (carne) empanada
- Chicken empanada
- Cheese empanada
- Veggie empanada
- Plantain chips
- Dulce de Leche
- Water and soft drinks (including Colombiana, Inca Kola and Coke products)
Photo courtesy Capital Empanadas
(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) Food trucks and carts were out in force around Welburn Square in Ballston today. With temperatures reaching into low 70s, workers flocked to the square for some spring-like outdoor dining.
The proprietors of the BBQ Bandidos truck, who continued serving their signature sandwiches and cemitas through the cold weather months, said business has picked up considerably. Across the street, a long line extended from the bright pink Curbside Cupcake truck.
Meanwhile, the broadcast team behind the Taco Carrito cart said they had just returned from their winter hibernation this week and were pleasantly surprised by demand today. The tiny two-person cart was sold out by 1:30 p.m.
The event, “Food Carts: Regulations and Best Practices 2011,” will be held between 6:00 and 8:30 p.m. on March 9 at the Central Library auditorium (1015 North Quincy Street). Registration is free.
Among the featured speakers will be District Taco owner Osiris Hoil, who “will share his insight on how he used his food cart business to secure a retail lease in Arlington County.” Representatives from the Arlington’s health department, police department and tax office will also be on hand.
“Are you interested in learning the legal aspects of opening this type of business in Arlington County from local regulators?” Arlington Economic Development asked in its email flier for the event. “During these tough economic times, small businesses throughout the United States are launching food carts at record rates as alternatives to leasing commercial retail space.”
The event is sponsored by BizLaunch and the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
But now, after threats of being sued or arrested, Metro Halal owner Mohammad Khan has been forced to move the cart to a less trafficked, less familiar section of North Lynn Street. As a result, Khan says, his family and his business are suffering.
“It has affected my business very much,” said Khan, who also owns La’Jawab Kabob House on Lee Highway, where the cart’s food is prepared. “Today I lost money… In this bad economy, my business is destroyed by them.”
The “them” Khan is referring to is Monday Properties, which owns the 1100 Wilson Boulevard office tower. The company’s law firm has been sending cease and desist letters to Khan since May, ordering him to “stop trespassing” on the sidewalk. According to the letters, Monday Properties’ land ownership extends all the way to the curbs on Lynn and Wilson.
Although Khan reviewed the letters, he insists various county officials later told him that he wasn’t doing anything wrong. Thus, when he received another letter in November, saying in bold-faced type that “you must immediately and permanently cease trespassing on the property,” Khan kept on serving hearty $5.99 meals to local office workers.
That was until Thursday, when, according to Khan, a police officer said he would be arrested if he did not move to a new spot.
“I was almost crying, because I knew it would take me another six months or one year to get my customers back,” Khan said. “I did not have time to tell my customers.”
Khan said he used to be able to sell between $300 and $600 worth of food in a given day, thanks in part to the convenient and familiar location. In his new location, he says, sales are down to $250 per day.
“That does not cover my expense,” Khan said. “And what about my family, my kids, my mortgage, my car payments?”
Khan says he’d be willing to pay a couple hundred dollars in monthly rent — an offer Monday Properties has apparently rejected. He said he hopes that the company will eventually change its mind and let him return to his favored spot.
For its part, Monday Properties’ law firm also accused the Metro Halal cart of “impeding/restricting pedestrian traffic on the sidewalks,” creating a traffic hazard by serving food to passing taxi cabs, and of “not maintaining proper receptacles for the disposal of waste materials.”
On the last charge, Khan countered that he was vigilant about cleaning up trash, clearing snow, or otherwise maintaining the area around the cart.
A Monday Properties representative at the corporate office in New York declined to comment for this story.
The Taco Carrito cart has been serving hungry Ballston office workers for nearly four weeks. But even regular customers may not realize that the people serving them tasty tacos and homemade Spanish-recipe guacamole have no culinary background whatsoever.
In fact, the reason why proprietors Don Stanke and Colleen Kenney never serve breakfast or dinner is because they work a completely different full-time job — the late shift at a local television station. Don and Colleen, who asked that their employer not be identified, say they came up with the idea for the cart two years ago at a bar, while discussing layoffs in the television news industry.
With so much uncertainty, why not start their own business as a fall back, they thought. Plus, it could be fun.
“I just thought it would be cool to be a vendor, to stand there and talk to people all day,” Don said.
Don, a news photographer, and Colleen, a tape producer, decided to launch a cart before they decided what to serve. With feedback from friends, they narrowed it down to pizza or tacos. Ultimately they decided on tacos, and set off researching the best recipes.
The cart originally launched last year and served Crystal City. All went well for two months, until Arlington police showed up with measuring tape and determined the cart was two feet longer than regulations allow.
“Rules are rules,” Don lamented, even though he says he was told by a health department employee that the extra length wasn’t a problem.
After selling that cart, buying a 20-year-old used cart that required restoration and customization, and getting their paperwork in order, the cart re-launched last month.
Currently, Taco Carrito serves customers near Wellburn Square in Ballston from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Tuesday through Friday.
Although they did vend at the Marine Corps Marathon in Rosslyn over the weekend, Don and Colleen don’t plan to make regular trips to any other neighborhoods (partially in deference to the District Taco cart, partially to avoid the territory of a certain rival television station).
The co-workers say they would ultimately like to get licensed in the District, when such licenses become available.
It was a long night for the county board, which didn’t adjourn its recessed meeting until a few minutes after midnight. In addition to a controversial resolution regarding the Secure Communities program, a briefing on next year’s budget projections and the passage of the Crystal City Sector Plan, the board took a number of other significant actions.
The board heard a presentation by County Manager Michael Brown regarding staff research into the proposed development plan for East Falls Church. Details are available on the county’s web site.
Funds for the design of a better Ballston beaver pond were approved unanimously. The $471,842 contract calls for a new design that will allow the pond to do a better job of treating stormwater while still providing a habitat for wildlife.
A plan to renovate 162 apartments in Colonial Village was approved unanimously. The board looked into concerns about parking and trash expressed by neighboring residents, but otherwise made no alterations.
After another somewhat lengthy discussion about outdoor patios, the board voted unanimously to renew Hard Times Cafe’s outdoor seating permit. The board specified an allowance of four tables and eight chairs on the North Highland Street sidewalk during dinner time.
The board voted 4-1 to advertise a steep fee increase for restaurant and food vendor licenses. The board was careful to emphasize that the fee hike, from $100 to $285, was mandated by the state and already in place in neighboring jurisdictions. The fee would apply evenly to brick and mortar restaurants and mobile food vendors.
At the very end, the board approved some sort of settlement with the owner of the long-delayed Bromptons development in Cherrydale. Update at 11:15 a.m. — The settlement deals with a dispute between the owner and the county over utility undergrounding. Under terms of the settlement, Bromptons owner R15, LLC will pay $255,000 to a utility fund.
The Rebel Heroes banh mi sandwich truck and the District Taco cart have spent the summer exclusively serving hungry crowds around Arlington. But each has their sights set on licenses to operate in the District.
That’s the explanation for why the popular Arlington vendors were invited by DC government to participate in next week’s inaugural “Curbside Cook-Off” at CityCenterDC.
As the Washington City Paper tells it, District Taco and Rebel Heroes will “stick out like tourists in downtown D.C.” during the two-day mobile food event on Oct. 7 and 8. Also participating will be 18 DC-based vendors, including DC Slices and Sweetflow Mobile, which occasionally slum over to Arlington for special events.
So if our beloved street vendors do get licensed in DC, will we ever see them again?
District Taco says yes — they’ll simply get another cart to operate in DC. We’re still waiting to hear back from Rebel Heroes.