New Food Trucks May Appear Outside Building 68By Brian Loux
A new food truck will soon take its place in the line-up outside of Building 68.
Some students may have already noticed that the bright yellow truck of Alright Catering has been absent from its usual spot for over a week. In fact, the truck, specializing in jerk style cooking, has left the campus for good. Its operators cited personal reasons for the decision. Butch Harris, the truck’s operator, “seemed to have very good business, and seemed very sorry to leave,” said Richard D. Berlin, Director of Campus Dining. “It was very sudden ... I received a fax from him on March 25 that March 23 was his last day.” Harris was not available for comment, but he said in the fax to Berlin that he deeply regretted leaving behind his loyal customers and friends on campus.
Over the last week, Alright Catering has worked with MIT to find a replacement. Alright Catering sold its yellow truck to Chef Chow’s House in Brookline, which hopes to soon take the vacant spot. “We looked over their menu and tried to edit it to maintain the variety of food options,” said Berlin. “Their menu is still Japanese-oriented ... and has many teriyaki dishes, but they will also serve the very popular burritos that Alright catering vended.”
“We know that it is a very popular and [healthy] choice, so we will try to make the best of it,” said Chris Chow, manager of Chef Chow’s House. “It is not our specialty, but we will make it our specialty.”
Chef Chow’s House will use the same yellow truck. Its name will be Lunch Box Express, not to be confused with the truck of the same name with a similar menu that operates on Massachusetts Avenue.
“We have been in the food business for a very long time, but this is our very first [experience operating a] food truck,” said Chow. She said her Brookline business had serviced Harvard students well for a long time, “and we are hoping to service more of Cambridge, so we were eager for this opportunity to work with the MIT community.”
Chef Chow’s House is currently waiting for approval of their temporary license from the Cambridge License Commission. Berlin said that he does not expect any complications with the approval, so Lunch Box Express should be able to begin service after tonight’s CLC meeting.
Contracts expire in June
The Lunch Box Express, as well as the other three trucks in the same location, Goosebeary’s, Moishe’s Chicken, and Maurice’s Pizzeria, may only retain their spots until June 30. Under a new initiative by Berlin, a committee will convene in the near future to decide which four trucks will serve MIT for the next two years.
“It gives us a chance to maintain a variety of new dining options on campus and it gives us a chance to maintain good relationships with the city,” Berlin said. “We give all entrepreneurs a chance; we do not consider incumbency.”
The committee will be made of students, staff, and faculty members. “Most likely we will have representatives from the Student Dining Committee as members,” said Berlin. The committee will then solicit bids for the four spots from local food businesses. “The committee will review the menus, trucks, and foods of the companies,” said Berlin. “They will then make decisions based upon the quality, value, and variety of foods that each truck offers.”
In the past, MIT received eight or nine applications from different businesses. All of the food trucks currently stationed near Building 68, including the fledgling Lunch Box Express, plan to rebid for their spots. “We definitely want to develop a long term relationship with the MIT community,” said Chow.
One of the applicants this year is expected to be Jerusalem Cafe, the Mediterranean restaurant located two blocks north of 77 Massachusetts Avenue.
Student reaction to the policy is mostly favorable, though some are skeptical. “It’s definitely a good idea to switch the ones that are not doing well, but we should definitely keep ones like Goosebeary’s if everyone likes it,” said Matt Alaniz ’01.
“I think it’s important to offer variety, but that doesn’t mean the businesses will fare well. We should look for more options for the student community,” said Kelly M. Hogan ’02.