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home : business : business August 22, 2017


6/28/2016 12:55:00 PM
Food carts serve hungry folks in Sisters
Rock-n-Troll is one of several food carts in the food cart garden at Eurosports. photo by Sue Stafford
+ click to enlarge
Rock-n-Troll is one of several food carts in the food cart garden at Eurosports. photo by Sue Stafford

By Sue Stafford


Tucked away on Hood Avenue behind Eurosports are three unique food carts all new to Sisters - New Public Café, Rock-n-Troll Seafood, and Tuscan Chuck Wagon.

Clustered around an open space of sunny lawn, filled with tables and chairs for patrons, are carts representing much more than purveyors of food. They encompass dreams and philosophies of their owners.

New Public Café

Anna Poutous hails originally from Houston, Texas where her Greek grandfather owned the original New Public Café. Poutous put aside her profession as an environmental consultant and left her boyfriend in San Diego to pursue her dream of sharing her passion for preparing healthy food.

Responding to a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis in her 20s, and hesitant to take the usual side-effect-producing medications, Poutous changed her eating habits, eliminating gluten, becoming a vegetarian in 2000 and then a vegan in 2002. Using all organic produce and products, and many raw foods, Poutous lovingly creates delicious homemade food that is good for you. She is the living proof. Her blood-work now reveals no rheumatoid factor and she is symptom-free.

Her bountiful Bachelor Bowl salad (in honor of the mountain) is chock full of sprouted brown rice, romaine lettuce, shredded beets and carrots, cherry tomatoes, avocado, sprouted pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and honey turmeric humus, all dressed with homemade vegan dijon tahini.

"The Bachelor Bowl is $10. It has a lot of love in it and it's worth every penny," assures Poutous.

New Public Café opened on Memorial Day weekend so that her father, who was a big supporter of her dreams (offering his Harley to secure her loan), would be able to see pictures of the opening. He was dealing with cancer in Texas so after the opening she returned to Houston to spend time with him before he passed away.

She just returned to Sisters last week and is now in the process of building her menu and preparing for Quilt Show week. She will be offering cold-pressed juices with optional turmeric or ginger shots (good for countering inflammation), green smoothies, homemade granola and oatmeal, fried-egg sandwiches, salad bowls, tempeh Reubens, homemade almond milk cold-brew drinks, and the pièce de résistance - handmade raw cacao almond truffles (raw cacao, almonds, dates, coconut nectar rolled in hemp seeds, cacao nibs and coconut flakes). She does use dairy and eggs in some dishes.

New Public Café opens at 7:30 a.m. and is currently open Wednesday-Sunday, with plans to be open Monday and possibly Tuesday. Poutous hopes to remain open year-round, offering hot soups and comfort food in the colder months. Her basic philosophy comes from her dad - provide outstanding customer service.

Orders for New Public Café can be texted to 541-419-8751. Poutous's email is anna@newpubliccafe.com.

Rock-n-Troll

Right next door is Rock-n-Troll Seafood, owned by Ken and Marina Baxter, transplants from Elfin Cove, Alaska, where Ken spent 27 years running his own fishing boat and Marina worked on the gas dock among other jobs. They began wintering in Sisters several years ago before they decided to sell the boat and become full-time residents here. They wanted to spend more time together, which was different from when Ken was at sea six days a week.

They first began offering fresh flash-frozen fish from Alaska for retail sale. Currently, it is available at Melvin's as well as at the food cart. Until they can secure a permanent retail location, they decided to try their hand at offering fresh fish dishes from their food cart. Their fish is flown in on Alaska Airlines from Sitka and purchased from the buyer to whom Ken sold his catches for years.

The cart opened on May 1 and they report that business has been up and down depending on the weather. They are currently open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday and plan to be open through late September or early October for the fall events. Although they have a year's lease, the cart will close for the winter and be put in storage out of the weather. Their retail fish will continue to be available at Melvin's.

"We hope they'll be enticed (to give us a try)," said Ken.

The menu includes: fish-n-chips; king salmon burgers; halibut and other fish burgers; Captain Ken, Mediterranean, and salmon wraps; salmon skewers; fish tacos; and specials like seafood curry over rice. Fries are served with entrees and blueberry/pear or garden side salads are available. Prices range from $5.75 to $14.95.

They've worked hard to create ambiance with a fancy truck, purchased in Leavenworth, Washington, that fits Sisters. From their years of fishing, the Baxters understand the importance of keeping everything clean with bleach, testing their water, and avoiding any fish smell. The cart is inspected by the Deschutes County Health Department.

The Baxters have four grown children, several living in Alaska and the other recently opting for the warmer climes of Arizona. Ken occasionally goes up to Alaska to fish on others' boats, but he is trying to totally phase out of that part of his life.

Tuscan Chuck Wagon

"I traded in my trading jacket for an apron," is how Bob Heffernan describes his switch from being a 30-year commodities trader on the floor of the Chicago Exchange to a purveyor of home-cooked, nutritious food in his Tuscan Chuck Wagon in Sisters.

Food is just the outward manifestation of his deep-seated philosophy regarding the importance of families eating together.

"My goal is to go out of business because everybody's cooking at home," said Heffernan.

His love affair with food began with his Irish mother, who will be 91 this September, and is still going strong despite giving birth to 11 children. Their family sat down together every night for dinner, something Heffernan sees lacking in too many of today's families.

As Heffernan was phasing out of online commodities trading five years ago, he was simultaneously ramping up a food-oriented business. He established his website, www.mangia.tv, where he broadcast Sizzle, a program about food, to inspire people to buy local and eat healthy, and to sit down with family and friends around a table. In one episode he interviewed his mom about food and family.

As distant as that seems from trading, Heffernan explained the connection.

"The trading floor was a melting pot of ethnicities. Contrary to the public perception of the crazy pace of trading, there was a lot of downtime for the 100 traders. Talk often turned to food. Because we were done at one in the afternoon, lots of us were Mr. Moms, fixing dinner for the family."

That experience and his childhood memories led naturally to his focus on food. Through mangia.tv he became aware of barbecue competitions. In January 2012, he entered the Winter Rib Fest in Lake Villa, outside Chicago, which was a benefit for the local food bank.

He called his brother, who owns The Shrimp Walk restaurant in Highwood, Illinois, to see if he could use his brother's shrimp rub on his ribs. He cut it 50/50 with brown sugar, and won first place. He continued entering and winning until he took third place in the Windy City BBQ Classic. He was onto something.

When he couldn't find anyone to manufacture and package the rub, due to his small operation, he found The Lamb's Farm, in Libertyville, Illinois, that offers housing and meaningful employment opportunities for people with disabilities. They are making and packing the rub for him.

Heffernan's son came out to Western Oregon University to play rugby and one of Heffernan's brothers is the head of all the rugby referees in the area. Wanting to see his son's last rugby season, Heffernan came to Bend.

He discovered Sisters and decided that by having a food cart, he would be able to meet people and let them sample his barbecue rub. He views his food cart as a lifestyle portal to good food and wellness. He has opportunities to interact with the public and exchange stories about food and life.

The menu currently consists of two types of street tacos (chicken and shrimp), as well as cajun shrimp skewers, pulled pork and pot roast sliders, and caprese, plus two types of flat bread, which are baked in his pellet-driven pizza oven, crafted by Heffernan. Other than sandblasting and welding done by locals, he made it himself and has plans for possibility manufacturing the ovens for sale.

Tuscan Chuck Wagon opened the second weekend in May and is currently open Wednesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., with Tuesday possibly being added for the summer. His email is bob@mangia.tv.

Dog Town Hot Dogs

Dog Town Hot Dogs serves hot dogs and sausages, including Guiness beer brats, kielbasa and double-smoked German sausage.

Hours are the same as the other carts: Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Beverages - 30-plus craft beers, wines, and juices - are available inside the bike shop.

The Food Cart Garden at Eurosports also hosts free events. Wednesday trivia night is from 6:15 to 7:15 p.m.; Thirsty Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m. feature happy-hour specials and every Friday free music is from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, July 1 is a special event with Beatles cover band Juju Eyeball playing from 5 to 8 p.m.









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