Courtesy of M.Live, Thursday, March 15, 2012
By Ashley C. Woods | firstname.lastname@example.org
Food trucks are the new celebrities of Metro Detroit.
There’s no simpler way to explain why 3,000 hungry eaters will descend on Ferndale next Wednesday, March 21 to nosh on tacos and ice cream served out of four-wheeled mobile carts.
Street Eat Wednesdays are a weekly food truck rally hosted by the Michigan Mobile Vendors Association.
Organizers for the first event, held last month at the Royal Oak Farmer’s Market, planned for 500 to 700 visitors.
March 13, Detroit Free Press: That gathering drew at least 3,000 visitors, although organizers had expected 500 to 700 and set up only half the market for the event, market manager Shelly Mazur said Tuesday. Many waited in line up to an hour for service, and most vendors were out of food by the end of the evening.
They’ve now added more seating, more cooks and more room for Metro Detroit’s growing base of passionate food-truck eaters. And at least eight trucks will be steered to Ferndale on March 21, each possessing its own carefully-curated set of standbys. Read the rest of this entry »
Filling Station: A piergoi cart at Eastern Market sells a taste of modern Polish tradition
With its abundant offerings of produce and local cottage-industry edibles, an outing to Eastern Market can spark a craving in any shopper. For Kim Stricker, a pierogi hankering while browsing the sheds one morning in 2008 sparked an appetite for entrepreneurship.
“Friends and I were down there doing our normal Saturday shopping and we thought, you know what would be good down here is pierogi,” says Stricker, a Ferndale resident who co-founded People’s Pierogi Collective.
Stricker grew up in a traditional Polish family, listening to her maternal grandparents speak Polish at home and enjoying her grandmother’s cooking. That meant eating plenty of pierogi, an Eastern European dumpling traditionally stuffed with potato, sauerkraut, meat, or cheese.
Stricker and a friend approached Eastern Market about cooking and selling freshly made pierogi once a week. The market welcomed the proposal and encouraged her to bring a cart. She asked her father, a metal fabricator, to make her one.
“After he stopped laughing, he asked, ‘What’s a pierogi cart?’ ” Stricker says. “He spent the winter building me this pierogi cart, which is like a hot-dog cart and, in the spring, I took it down to Eastern Market.”
While her father made the cart, Stricker, who also works as a marketing and advertising consultant, turned to Twitter and Facebook for input on her nascent company’s name and logo, and the People’s Pierogi Collective (PPC) was born. Once she got the green light from Eastern Market, she and her business partner, Sheryl Gregoire, whom Stricker calls “a phenomenal cook,” set about tweaking tradition; the company’s lighthearted name reflects its dedication to consumer feedback and input on pierogi fillings.
“We did quite a bit of research, and I have 30 pounds that I gained [to show for it],” Stricker says. “We wanted to make sure we respected Polish culture in how we went about making the pierogi. There are some purists out there, especially my grandmother. We make sure the base is great and that people really enjoy that and build it from there.”
That means making lots of traditional pierogi in their Hamtramck kitchen, but also “riding the line between traditional and experimental,” Stricker says, using Eastern Market as a test market for creative concoctions. One of PPC’s biggest sellers is a breakfast pierogi, stuffed with scrambled eggs, bacon, and cheese.
“The breakfast pierogi has been a huge seller,” she says. “I think it’s become part of people’s ritual in the morning to come [to the market] and get some pierogi and do their grocery shopping.”
Other options include pierogi stuffed with sweet potato, peanut butter and fresh strawberries, peach cobbler, and jalapeño popper — all the result of consumer suggestions.
Stricker says that being open to unconventional inspiration means a bit of trial and error: “I can say that with the peanut butter and jelly, even though everyone was excited about it, once they tried it they were like, I don’t know about it.”
As PPC got off the ground, it connected with the Michigan State University Product Center for business support. Frank Gublo, an innovation counselor with the center, says Stricker’s marketing and products both stand out.
“She’s created a community around the product using social media,” Gublo says. “Lots of people do a non-traditional filling, but it’s kind of the sideline. What makes her different is she features her non-traditional fillings and embraces it.” Read the rest of this entry »
Deciding to add value to farm production or diversifying by launching some unrelated enterprise requires more than a creative idea.
It takes work targeted at marketing and a financial plan. However, having a passion for what you’ll be doing will turn most of that hard work into enjoyment, and hopefully, generous profits.
The first step is to think creatively about new product development. Brenda Reau harkens to the old Beach Boys’ hit with the probably familiar refrain, “Wouldn’t it be nice if…” Reau says finishing that phrase can be a powerful tool for would-be entrepreneurs. “Don’t get stuck worrying about the feasibility or how to implement the idea. The goal is to get you thinking about desirable products or services that would be ‘nice,’” she says of this easy brainstorming technique. Read the rest of this entry »
Amy Maureen Yee had all the trappings of a Brooklyn wedding. An off-white lace dress that was a remake of a vintage gown. Bundles of tulips grown by her and the groom.
And food trucks serving huaraches, schnitzel and dumplings on paper plates.
“We started to look at traditional caterers and the costs were just crazy,” said Ms. Yee, who got married last month in the Green Building in Carroll Gardens. For a third of the price she hired three food trucks instead. Read the rest of this entry »
The highly anticipated opening of the downtown outdoor food cart courtyard is here.
Seven concessionaires will offer ethnic street food ranging from pulled-pork sandwiches to paella at the W. Washington St. location.
Construction is in its final stages at Mark’s Carts – the last concrete pour is happening this afternoon. Food carts will be open for business starting Monday, May 9. The beautiful outdoor courtyard — located at 211 W. Washington Street, between Ashley Street and S. First Street — is poised to become Ann Arbor’s premier street food scene. Details about a grand opening celebration will be distributed in the coming two weeks.
“The opening of the food cart courtyard is a dream achieved,” stated Mark Hodesh, owner of Downtown Home and Garden and originator of Mark’s Carts. “I am thrilled to offer this charming outdoor urban pocket of activity to the community.”
Seven food carts will be open for business in the courtyard. Vendors include: San Street (Asian street food); Debajo del Sol (Spanish paella and tapas); The Lunch Room (vegan entrees, sides and baked goods); eat (locally sourced hearty sandwiches); Darcy’s Cart (breakfast burritos and more); Humble Hogs (hoagies, braise-in-a bun, and other savory and sweet offerings), and People’s Pierogi Collective (a variety of homemade pierogi). Hodesh is still accepting applications to fill several additional spots.
The food cart courtyard will operate seven days a week from 8 am to 10 pm, and each cart will set its own hours. There is parking on the street and in a large surface lot just across the street, with entrances on Ashley St. and First St.
The idea for Mark’s Carts originated when Hodesh visited his daughter Jeanne in New York City last year. Impressed with the breadth of street food available there and the joyful, entrepreneurial spirit of the people running the carts, Hodesh decided to bring the concept home.
Food carts, food trucks, and other mobile food establishments have seen a sharp rise in popularity worldwide in recent years. Food carts allow for start-up entrepreneurs, without the capital required for a brick-and-mortar restaurant, to try their food ideas – typically using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. With the opening of Mark’s Carts, Ann Arbor takes its place on the map of street food hot-spots, alongside other U.S. cities like New York, Austin, Portland, San Diego, and Seattle.
On Friday January 21st the Peoples Pierogi Collective was invited to speak at the Women in Agri-Business III conference by ThumbWorks, a Michigan Works! Agency. The event featured four presenters on different areas of how to get started and to transition to the Agri-Business industry and was attended by about 100 women that were in related fields, farmers, new entrepreneurs, or people in the agriculture business.
This is my second time working with ThumbWorks and I again enjoyed the experience. ThumbWorks is a Michigan Works agency that directly services the people in the Thumb region of Michigan, including Bad Axe in Huron County, Lapeer in Lapeer County, Sandusky in Sanilac County, and Caro in Tuscola County, though their services are extended to people that don’t just live in those areas. They offer education programs, seminars and services geared towards helping entrepreneurs, and other useful services. You can find the full list of programs and services offered on their website at http://www.thumbworks.org/web/.
The crux of what I talked about was how to get started as an Agri-Preneur. I talked about how trying and difficult it can be but also about how rewarding it can be. If you just stuck in there then the reward can be great. I mentioned licensing classes and information on how to get financing for your business. It doesn’t take that much to get your business off of the ground, but you have to take that first step otherwise it’ll never get off of the ground.
I would say that overall the tone of the event was extremely positive, uplifting, and inspirational. It was letting women know that if they have a business idea that they want to try and start there’s tons of resources out there to give them help and for those that have already started their own business there’s lots of support out there for them too.
The Peoples Peirogi Collective was also invited to another event in March of this year by the good people at the ThumbWorks where we’ll be speaking to about 400 high school students from the thumb area of Michigan about entrepreneurship. Look for more information on that in the coming weeks!
After many weeks of conceptualizing and experimentation, students from the Michigan State University’s School of Packaging revealed their design proto-types to the People’s Pierogi Collective. Anticipation was high as each of the 5 groups presented and explained why their concept fit all of our needs in distribution.
Concepts ranged from Frozen, Refrigerated and Microwavable. As well, each differed in materials: plastics, cardboard, etc. They listened to the needs of PPC and delivered. Their challenge in the beginning was to:
“Create a unique, cost-effective package that provides a long shelf-life, differentiates from the competition, considers the “homemade” aspect of the product, highlights the fun/witty brand and can be slightly modified to carry over to each new filling….. Is that all?”
Overall, it was a great experience working with students again. Their openness to new concepts and eagerness to step outside the “safe” norm – proved to be just what we were looking for! We will be moving forward with one of their designs. Right now I’m torn between two of the proposals. The winning design will be unveiled in early 2011. Stay tuned on where you’ll see it!
For many of the students, this was their final hour of class at MSU before graduation (and celebration at the local pub). I was honored to be part of such a pivotal point in the beginnings of their career. I wish them all the best and see great potential in what they will achieve in the business world. I only hope we’ll be able to circle around for the next product launching!
Last week marked the end of a great farmer’s market season and first year of business. The People’s Pierogi Collective would like to thank everyone for their support and for following their pierogi cravings. The latest filling, Sweet Potato – was a hit and sold out the two weeks available!
Although, we will not be at the market during the winter months, we’re not idle.
Based on many requests to take home pierogies, we are working with MSU students in further developing packaging. By spring 2011 (perhaps earlier), we will be launching our frozen/refrigerated products in local grocers and farmers market-goers. We’ve been utilizing the technologies of Skype and Vuroom to chat in groups virtually, discussing product and customer needs. Feel free to give us your input, as we are always open to suggestions.
In addition to packaging concepts, based on your votes, we are developing our merchandising line. Check out our two finalists for t-shirt concepts. Elvis Presley and Albert Einstein with pierogies – what’s not to love?
We want YOUR input! So, even though we won’t be at the market as the snow falls, please check back for further details on our grocery distribution, upcoming fillings, cart locations and online competitions.