His culinary journey began with a brand idea: Indian flavors in familiar formats. He had initially thought about pursuing grocery store sales, before deciding that the street wraps he created belong on the street. For Dixit, a truck was a mobile laboratory for determining how the concept should expand.
“I wanted to first see how people reacted to it,” he explains. “Our menu is burritos and rice bowls. And seeing it in action, I realized, it’s basically Indian Chipotle. There are one-off Indian fast food places in some cities, so it’s only a matter of time before someone does it. Maybe Chipotle will. But right now there’s a void, so we made that the focus.”
Based on that feedback, his goal has become a string similar of fast-casual restaurants. His new stall at Midtown Global Market will provide a perfect incubator. “It seems like a good logical next step,” he says. “I can’t learn how this concept does in a fast food environment, without having to have my own 3,000 sq ft space.”
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Hot Indian Foods now occupies the stall left vacant by the Left Handed Cook. Dixit, like the other truck owners, stresses the importance of befriending those who have been there, as he’s done with his space’s former owner. “As a first time small business owner, talking with Thomas [Kim] has been super helpful, to learn about how they did it,” he says. “And the fact that he stayed at Midtown really speaks to the space.”
So the food truck boom soldiers on, pushing into new territory. And as a few of the trucks open restaurants, others close, like the century-old Peter’s Grill in June 2013. At the time, Peter’s owner cited the concentration of food trucks down the street among the reasons. Some downtown restaurants grumbled that the trucks don’t pay property taxes while using a prime location.
So while they determine the right balance for all parties, what’s clear is that food trucks are affecting real change on the greater landscape of Twin Cities eating. As long as hungry entrepreneurs are still honing their skills on the Marquette Avenue lunch hour, we imagine that will continue.
LOCAL FOOD TRUCKS GONE BRICK-AND-MORTAR
A Cupcake Social • Standish, Minneapolis
Cajun 2 Geaux • Bistro La Roux, Circle Pines, MN*
Chef Shack • Seward, Minneapolis & Bay City, WI
Foxy Falafel • Midway, St Paul
Gastrotruck • unnamed restaurant, NE Minneapolis*
Hola Arepa • Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis
Hot Indian Foods • Midtown Global Market, Minneapolis
Potter’s Pasties • Como Ave, St Paul
Smack Shack • North Loop, Minneapolis
Sushi Fix • Wayzata, MN
World Street Kitchen • Uptown, Minneapolis
* = upcoming
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