Penn (left) and Schmaltz Brothers chef and co-owner Yehuda Malka. Photo by Lindsey Max

Editors' Pick

Best Way to Keep On Trucking

The food truck boom, which hit the D.C. area 10 years ago, had definitely plateaued before COVID-19 hit. Now, the trucks have seen a resurgence, especially among established food businesses seeking to expand revenue sources. Three superlative options have popped up recently.

Jennifer Meltzer and chef Ed Reavis, the husband-and-wife owners of All Set Restaurant & Bar in Silver Spring, launched a barbecue concept in food truck form—Money Muscle BBQ (think smoked turkey legs, Texas-style brisket, Carolina pulled pork)—in September. Also in September, the Marmaras family, which owns The Big Greek Cafe’s four Montgomery County locations, rolled out The Big Greek Cafe food truck, bringing souvlaki and gyro pita sandwiches, spanakopita, falafel, Greek dips and more to wineries, breweries, special events, school parking lots and neighborhoods where organizers ask them to come. (To have the food truck come to your neighborhood, email info@biggreekcafe.com.)

Schmaltz Brothers executive chef Colin Penn. Photo by Lindsey Max

In April, Chappall Gage, who co-owns Susan Gage Caterers in Landover, started Schmaltz Brothers, a separate Potomac-based, kosher catering business and food truck. Schmaltz Brothers chef and co-owner Yehuda Malka uses the kitchen at Beth Sholom Congregation in Potomac as a commissary, and the food truck frequently sells from the lot there. (Gage plans to build a kosher kitchen facility in Montgomery County once the economy improves.) On the truck, you’ll find brisket or fried chicken sandwiches on challah buns, fried matzo ball bites (Jewish hush puppies), matzo ball soup and chocolate babka, but no dairy-based foods, in line with kosher guidelines of keeping meat and dairy separate. Gage explains why the food truck model works. “Everyone is so stressed out now. There is so much angst about what is safe and what isn’t. A truck pulling up is appealing. It’s inherently socially distant. We’ve done weddings like this. And it’s safer for the staff in terms of interaction with guests.” Another important plus: Adding the food truck is a way to keep more people employed.

All three trucks plan to run through the winter. Checking their social media outlets, accessible through their websites, is the best way to find out where the trucks will be.

moneymusclebbq.com; biggreekcafe.com; schmaltzbros.com