Food vendors take to the streets

Mark Miller stands outside American EurosOn the way to class these days, it’s not just students walking the sidewalks on Wisconsin Avenue.

New mobile food vendors have sprouted on campus. From gyros to crepes, pitas to pizza, if it’s edible, it’s now portable.

A few businesses in and around Marquette’s campus are really making headway. American Euros, Pita Brothers, Satellite Crepes and Streetza Pizza have changed the landscape of food sales.

They’re selling both food and themselves as small businesses, hoping to draw students away from options in the residence halls, Alumni Memorial Union or off-campus food establishments.

American Euros has the play-on-words name thanks to their founders’ Greek and Italian heritage, but they’re serious about selling their gyros. In July, Mark Miller and Chad Mydlowski created a cart that can be found at the intersection of Water Street and Juneau Avenue.

Now, that American Euro cart is planted in front of the Raynor Library on the south side of Wisconsin. According to Miller, they plan to be on campus every day until it snows.

“We started jumping around between Marquette and UW-Milwaukee but we liked Marquette more,” he said. “Milwaukee is mainly just hot dogs. We can do gyros in Milwaukee.”

Gyros from American are priced at $4, about a dollar less than Marquette Gyros’ gyro sandwich. Miller said the restaurant isn’t necessarily American Euros’ biggest competition.

Miller said his gyros combine the classic Greek recipe involving tomatoes and onions with the gyro meat, as well as Asian hot sauce and lettuce. French fries are also included.

The gyro meat is shaved and kept hot before it hits the streets. Miller, Mydlowski and their staff spend two hours preparing the meat and vegetables before rolling out.

Generally, the cart sells 30 to 40 pitas during lunch and 80 to 100 in the dinner hours, after 6 p.m., Miller said.

Besides gyros, pitas are another of the eclectic food options a student can choose from.

Pita Brothers is a new mobile food service concept created by brothers Vijay and Manoj Swearingen, according to their Web site. The company provides updates of its whereabouts via its Twitter and Facebook pages.

“People like the fresh, made-to-order concept,” Vijay Swearingen said. “We fill our stuff with good stuff, fresh chopped veggies and good flavored sauces. Our wide range of customers includes vegetarians, vegans and meat eaters, all eat our food, even with their diets.”

Menu options include seven different kinds of pita wraps on traditional Lebanese flatbread, which cost between $4.50 and $5.50. There are six different dressings and other options ranging from hummus to smoothies.

According to its Web site, Pita Brothers operates from a custom built electric vehicle. When on Marquette’s campus, the Pita Brothers can be found at the intersection of 15th and Wells streets.

Another interesting option is Satellite Crepes, which is found in front of the AMU at 15th and Wisconsin on Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. According to founder and co-owner Dirk Werderich, they have built their own “green” cart and create their own “ultra-healthy” crepes, ranging anywhere from $3 to $7.

“The response is anywhere from great to hyper enthusiastic,” Werderich said. “We only have a license for residential sidewalks in Milwaukee. But Wisconsin and 15th is as good as on campus.”

Finally, for those seeking a pizza fix, there is Streetza Pizza, a pizza truck street vendor. Scott Baitinger, a partner in the company and an ad designer and part-time instructor at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, said the idea was inspired by a 3 a.m. hunger fix.

“We make them by hand from a commercial place in West Allis, and that’s what differentiates us,” he said. “We make most everything from scratch, not pre-packaged, and use more organic ingredients and local farmers.”

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