Sushi, freshly made doughnuts, lobster macaroni and cheese. They’re among the wide array of eats served from the growing number of Northeast Ohio food trucks.
So why not a truck that goes back to the future, plucking decades-old recipes from family archives?
These aren’t just any old recipes. They’re local culinary history, popular eats served at the former Yanko’s restaurants started by the late Nick “The Greek” Yanko.
Kendra St. Charles — granddaughter of Nick Yanko — is bringing back some of the recipes with her new truck, called the Beachcomber. The truck is named for the seasoned beef patty sandwich served for decades at the Yanko’s eateries.
A smaller version of the Beachcomber, the “Beach Ball,” will be the truck’s main menu item. The original style Beachcomber also will be on the menu. It was not a burger, fans will tell you. It was a big — 7 ounces — seasoned sub-shaped patty served on a toasted roll, brushed with garlic butter.
“How could I not have the Beachcomber?” focus, St. Charles said. “It’s nostalgia — and it was that good. … People tell me how much they miss the Beachcomber, and it’s one of the things I’ve made for family and friends and events over the years.”
By Tuesday, the Beachcomber Truck Facebook page had more than 400 friends and the truck isn’t even on the road yet. St. Charles, who lives in Fairlawn, says the truck should start rolling to events and food truck rallies around the middle of May.
Initially, the Beachcomber Truck’s focus will be the Beachcomber/Beach Ball sandwich, and the two items the Beachcomber was traditionally served with: buttery rice pilaf and a spicy sauce made with hot peppers. The Beach Ball will be served on a skewer, smashed on a slider bun, or in a tortilla wrap. Ground chicken Beach Balls also will be available, as well as a portabella mushroom version.
Eventually, St. Charles wants to add other Yanko’s yummies, including the Chicken Imperial cream soup. Perhaps she’ll offer a mini version of the shish kabobs her grandfather used to serve. They wouldn’t be served flaming, however, as they were at the longtime Yanko’s in Akron’s Highland Square neighborhood.
That location, on West Market Street where a Walgreens now stands, operated from 1940 until a fire in 1969 destroyed it. The place — known for visits from celebrities in town — was one of the area’s premier dining spots in the ’50s and ’60s. After the fire, Yanko’s reopened in 1970 in Fairlawn Town Centre as a more casual eatery, specializing in fried chicken. Gone were the tablecloths and the ritzy dishes, but the Beachcomber remained on the menu. This was the last Yanko’s, closing in the early 1990s.
For the mobile Yanko’s redux, St. Charles is getting help from family friend Patrick Laman, as well as chef Travis Moore, who will add menu items. Jeff Winer, formerly with the Orange Trük (which rolls out of Norton), is helping St. Charles launch the operation.
Winer relocated to Los Angeles earlier this month, but remains in frequent contact with St. Charles. She credits Winer with coaxing her onto the “food truck bandwagon.”
The cruising culinary business is a big departure for St. Charles. She’s been a representative for eyeglass manufacturers for years, a job she will juggle with the food truck business. She last worked at Yanko’s in the early 1990s. She was a cashier, handled take-out orders and greeted customers.
But cooking — Yanko’s-style especially — is in her blood. “When Kendra is cooking,” Winer said, “you can see her light up.”
Food truck study
Food truck news always begs the question: What’s up with the effort in Akron to make the city more welcoming to food trucks?
Akron City Council last year created a committee to look into easing the prohibition on food trucks operating on city streets.
The committee’s chairman, Jeff Fusco, an at-large member of City Council, said earlier this week that “We are very close. We are hoping to bring something in very soon” for council to consider.
“We’re doing a little bit of fine tuning,” he said, noting that he and Margo Sommerville, the councilwoman for Ward 3, have been working on a proposal with members of the city’s law department.
“It’s been a long journey … our biggest number one concern is public safety,” Fusco said. “There’s a place for food trucks in Akron.”
Twig’s to close
Linda “Twig” Henretty reports she is closing her 18-year-old Twig’s Diner at 334 31st St. NW (Cleveland-Massillon Road) in Barberton. Mother’s Day — May 11 — will be the last day of business, when the diner will be open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Henretty noted she’s losing side parking in the 31st Street Road widening project, and someone has bought the lot across the street that she uses.
Henretty will remain a part of the area’s food scene. Henretty, who’s been a bar manager at several area dining spots, plans to join another eatery, where she will help manage food operations. She’s not ready to disclose where yet, but said it is in the Bath-Richfield townships area.
Bob’s remains open
A small fire April 23 in an exhaust hood closed Bob’s Hamburg for a day.
“We’re up and running,” said Aimee Buckeye, the owner of the 83-year-old local icon in Akron’s Kenmore neighborhood. She fears some customers don’t realize the place only closed for that one day. Bob’s, Akron’s oldest hamburger joint, is at 1351 East Ave.
Bob’s opens at 7 a.m. with bacon and eggs, and the last burgers come off the line at 3:30 p.m.
Chef moves to Fiore’s
Chef Roger Thomas is now food and beverage director and executive chef at Fiore’s Italian Steakhouse, at 85 Montrose West Ave., Copley Township. It’s the only independent restaurant on “the hill” in the Montrose shopping area, Thomas noted.
He most recently was executive chef in charge of banquets and catering at Sheraton Suites on Front Street in Cuyahoga Falls. He said it was “time to do something different” and he continues to occasionally work on food events at the hotel.
Thomas founded Piatto in downtown Akron and later moved it to the Sheraton as Piatto Novo. Last year, Piatto Novo became Beau’s on the River — as in chef Beau Schmidt. That was after Rennick Andreoli, owner of RDA Hotel Management Co., became a part owner of the hotel. Andreoli owns the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn where Beau’s Grill is located.
Kirbie’s Family Meats & Catering is hosting its annual Pre-Summer Celebration every Saturday in May from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The events change each week and will include lots of samplings of barbecue sauces and marinades, as well as summer beer and wine tastings, and cooking and grilling ideas. The 32-year old Kirbie’s is at 4062 Fishcreek Road in the Oregon Trails Plaza off Graham Road. Call 330-688-4333.
Taps flow at Ray’s Place
Ray’s Place in Fairlawn has finally opened. The second location for the Kent-based pub/eatery opened Monday at 25 Ghent Road, across from Summit Mall. Fans have been awaiting the opening of Ray’s, which offers a wide selection of beer, sandwiches and other items.
Ray’s is in the spot that formerly housed the Winking Lizard. The Winking Lizard moved last April to the site of the former Golden Corral, off state Route 18 in Copley Township.
Mother’s Day Tea
The Victorian mansion Hower House is preparing for a Mother’s Day Tea, which will run from 2 to 4 p.m. May 11.
Tea and Thyme is planning a menu of sweets and savories, and tea, of course. The fare will include mini cinnamon rolls, scones, baby green salad with toppings including candied walnuts, cream of asparagus soup, individual chicken pot pie, raspberry and white chocolate squares and dark and light chocolate parfait. Davidson’s Organic Tea will be served.
The event includes a program and a walk-through tour of the 28-room Second Empire Italianate mansion. The Cellar Door gift store will be open. The Hower House was built in 1871 by Akron businessman John Henry Hower. His descendants donated the mansion to the University of Akron in 1970. It is at 60 Fir Hill on campus.
Cost is $30 for adults and $18 for children ages 8-12. Reservations must be paid by Friday. For reservations or more information, call the Hower House at 330-972-6909.
Send local food news to Katie Byard at 330-996-3781 or firstname.lastname@example.org.