Jon’s Street Eats moves on
on February 9, 2011
Goodbye to the cured pork tacos served with mint, cabbage and diakon radishes. Goodbye to the creamy mac-and-cheese cake topped with panko breadcrumbs and Gremolata cheese. Goodbye to the butterscotch pudding. One of Oakland’s first mobile food trucks, Jon’s Street Eats, is shutting up shop.
Last week, Jon Kosorek, the owner of Jon’s Street Eats, tweeted to his fans that he would serve food from his truck only one more week because he had taken a job as an executive chef in Napa Valley. This makes Saturday his last day. For him, this move doesn’t come as a surprise—the mobile street food business has always been a gateway for him to start his own restaurant.
“Doing this business wasn’t about me doing this business,” he says. “I wanted to do this street cart to find backers to start a restaurant.” Even though he isn’t starting his own restaurant yet, he says he thinks moving onto this chef position is a good opportunity for him.
On Tuesday, as he whipped up pork tacos, three bean and beef chili and grilled asparagus to a long line of customers, he said, “You got a few more days and I’m gone. I’m going to go smell wine, look at the stars and listen to crickets.”
“Oh no! Where are we going to eat?” one customer gasped.
“Good for you, bad for us,” chimed in another.
Kosorek officially fired up Jon’s Street Eats in August 2009 serving Americana style cuisine with high quality ingredients, like Niman ranch beef and fresh seasonal produce. Professionally trained at the Culinary Institute of America, Kosorek made all of Jon’s Street Eats’ food from scratch, from hand-pulled mozzarella to seared Ahi tuna rolls to cherry vanilla ice cream.
“When I started this, I had no idea it’d blow up,” he says. “The business has been great.” However, he feels like he wants to do more, like experimenting with different kinds of food and recipes that just aren’t possible on the cart, such as big steak dinners. “I’m a restaurant chef. It was a temporary plan in the beginning and I never thought it’d go this long,” he says.
The business has also been a labor of love. Kosorek has had to work long hours, sometimes in the rain and cold, while trying to predict the whims of customers. “It is hard,” he says. “It’s a crapshoot everyday—in the winter you don’t know if it’s going to be busy or slow.”
However, Kosorek is still having trouble letting the mobile food truck go completely. In January, he decided to try to sell the cart posting an ad on the website Craigslist, but wanted to sell it to the right person. “I was really hoping to sell the cart to someone who would carry on a similar concept, not just a hot-dog guy,” he says.
Along with selling the cart, he is also offering to give the buyer recipes of the customers’ favorite dishes, such as the duck tacos with pomegranate sauce and the beef patty melts on marbled rye, with Swiss cheese, caramelized onions and a secret sauce. If the right buyer doesn’t pop up, Kosorek says he’ll take the cart with him to Napa and use it in conjunction with the restaurant to do wine tasting and catering events.
He is slated to begin his new job in mid-March and says he’ll be focusing his recipes on American classics. Kosorek won’t say the name of the restaurant yet but says to stay tuned to his Twitter feed where he eventually will post it. “It’s bittersweet in the big picture, but I’m excited for the move,” he says.
Since Jon’s Street Eats last day is Saturday his customers have been lining up all week to get their last taste. On Tuesday, Kosorek sold out of food nearly an hour before he was planning to close. “I don’t think I’ve ever had it that busy by myself,” he said once he finished the rush. “If people are coming out this last week, please have patience.”
Find out Jon’s Street Eats final menu items and locations on his Twitter feed.
Updated April 20, 2011: Jon’s Street Eats is back in business with a new owner named John.
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