CLEVELAND, OH - A group of pioneering Cleveland cooks is taking advantage of a new government policy initiative to spur the growth of their small businesses. As of this summer, food trucks will be allowed into downtown Cleveland, thanks to a temporary ordinance that lets them serve curbside in a part of the city previously closed to them.
Credit for Cleveland’s rapidly growing truck scene is due to Chris Hodgson, the owner of Dim and Den Sum, who’s on the roster for Food Network’s second season of The Great Food Truck Race, which premiers August 14. (The show is in the process of being filmed, and the gossip around the city is that he’s one of the two finalists, if not the winner.)
So I hit the streets to map the food truck landscape.
Hodgson started his truck before being joined by three others, StrEat Mobile Bistro,UmamiMoto and Jibaro, that form a sort of core-four food trucks in Cleveland. Zydeco Bistro, out of Wadsworth, Ohio, and the truck from Cleveland’s Fahrenheit restaurant round out the offerings, with Traveling Treats and Oh! Babycakes driving dessert.
But there’s no innovation without growing pains, it seems, as brick-and-mortar restaurants have taken to the local press to voice concerns about their own business interests. One pizzeria claims its business is off 25 percent. But food truck crews say there’s room for everyone.
Chef Oleh Holowatyj, who we spoke to in front of Dim and Den Sum as it was parked on Ninth Street Street, voiced a common refrain: “You’re not going to pass up a sit-down dinner for a $7 taco.”
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