After a topsy-turvy summer food truck season, with next to no foot traffic in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, an innovative partnership with a grocery store is taking this mobile business indoors.
Now you can find a food truck — the facade anyway — inside the deli department at the Eagan Lunds & Byerlys (1299 Promenade Place, Eagan, 651-686-9669).
It's a rotating pop-up called Eat Street, and O'Cheeze is moving in for the first six-week residency. After that, another food truck will take over the space.
The idea for the collaboration began well before the pandemic, but "it's pretty lucky it landed in a time like this," said Tony Fritz, who owns O'Cheeze with his wife, Haley. The summer of COVID-19 was bruising to an industry that relies on office workers to build its "stockpile" for the rest of the year, Fritz said. By taking up residency in the suburbs, these vendors might reconnect with former customers who now work from home.
"This is a good way for us to continue forward, to continue to touch people during hard times," he said. "We all have to grocery shop, and this gives us an opportunity to get in front of people."
Fritz served as a kind of "middleman," he said, between Lunds & Byerlys and his food truck colleagues to design a one-size-fits-all kitchen and recruit the lineup. Besides O'Cheeze, other brands that have signed on include Butcher Salt, Full Belly Happy Heart, Gastrotruck, Elevation 5280 and Bark and the Bite.
Fritz is keeping the O'Cheeze menu simple: grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese and nachos. Eventually, he'd like to feature a local cheese or produce item on the menu "to take a product that's on the shelf down the way and create something," he said.
Eat Street is open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Go to LundsandByerlys.com/EatStreet for more details.
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