Archive for the ‘Burlingame’ Category

Burlingame conducts unscientific survey on Curry Up Now

Posted by Cyrus Farivar on December 28, 2009

Just before Christmas, the City of Burlingame sponsored an online survey to gauge local awareness and opinion of “a mobile food vendor” in the city’s downtown area. That food truck, of course, would be none other than Curry Up Now.

There appear to only be about 300 self-selecting online members of the public who responded to the survey, which was completed on or before December 23, 2009.

I have lots of questions that I emailed to Patricia Love, Burlingame’s economic development specialist, to try to determine the methodology and reasoning behind such a survey.

On its face, its results seem hardly definitive and represent the view of roughly one percent of the population of Burlingame, that is, if we presume that all of the respondents live in Burlingame. Of course, though, only 50 percent of respondents say that they live in the city.

That being said, here were the “results”:

53.4 percent of respondents said they had never purchased food from Curry Up Now.

56.6 percent of respondents said “I think [mobile food vendors] benefit the commercial areas.”

81.1 percent of respondents agreed with the statement: “The trucks increase the diversity of food options in Burlingame.”

67.9 percent of respondents agreed: “Mobile food vendors can take business from local restaurants.”

49.8 percent of respondents agreed: “The City should monitor the situation and consider regulatory changes if problems arise.”

59.1 percent of respondents “would be in favor of vendors if the City is unable to limit the number of mobile vendors allowed in the city”

So, y’know, while most of the results are favorable to Curry Up Now, take it with a large dollop of chutney.

Curry Up Now takes heat from City of Burlingame

Posted by Cyrus Farivar on November 11, 2009

One would think that the City of Burlingame would be pleased that a new, fun, delicious, nouveau food truck is gracing their community. Sadly, though, this is not the case as Curry Up Now‘s founder Akash Kapoor is being pressured by restaurateurs, business leaders and even city officials to get him out of the downtown strip.

The San Mateo County Times reports:

Officials have yet to discuss publicly whether they want to support the free enterprise interests of the trucks or prevent them from encroaching on local brick-and-mortar businesses. No meetings on the topic have been scheduled, as policymakers await the results of staff research.

Opinions on the matter seem split. Patricia Love, the city’s economic development specialist, said she has “gotten comments all over the board” in researching the issue.

Inquires from merchants have prompted police to ask the truck to move 500 feet every half-hour, and the owner has been cooperative, Burlingame police Capt. Mike Matteucci said. The truck is fully permitted to operate in the city, he said.

But Chamber of Commerce CEO Georgette Naylor, Downtown Burlingame Business Association President Kevin Osborne and Mayor Ann Keighran said local merchants have been groaning about the truck. Mostly, they said, shops think the truck has swooped in without having to pay the high rents properties fetch near Burlingame and Howard avenues.

In other words, restaurant owners are upset because they can’t compete. Boo-freakin’-hoo.

Worse still, city officials seem to be listening, and the truck may get run out of its prime location:

[Mayor] Keighran has been talking to business leaders and said they plan to meet with the truck’s owners. She said it may make sense to move the truck toward Bayside Park, where there are sports games and a lack of takeout food options.

But Kapoor said that would be tantamount to moving his truck out of the city.

I sent emails to Mayor Ann Keighran, Patricia Love and Akash Kapoor to get more details. I will update as soon as I know more.

Update 10:00 am Pacific Time: I just got off the phone with Akash Kapoor, who told me that a second truck is already in the works for San Francisco. He says that he’d like to work it out with the city, but doesn’t want to get into a protracted legal battle.

“If we have to move to Bayside Park, we’ll just move to San Francisco,” he said.

“I don’t have the energy to fight,” he added. “I’d rather just move 10 miles down and I know people will come.”

He also estimated that 80 percent of his customers are coming from outside of Burlingame, and in some cases, probably spend money in other city businesses, too.

“We have people coming from Santa Cruz and Sacramento. I wouldn’t come that far, but they come.”

Still no word from city officials.

Update 3:30 pm Pacific Time: Patricia Love responds:

“As highlighted in the article, some people love the convenience and price of the food the truck offers, others comment that they think it tastes great, some are concerned about the competition with local restaurants, others have concerns about safety in terms of traffic and pedestrians, and some are just curious about the truck and regulations. Take a look at the Burlingame Voice for a sample of some of these opinions.”

“The City does not have any actions in the works about vendor trucks. We are just collecting information and getting up-to-speed on the topic. Feel free to share any information you have with us if you think it would be helpful.”

“We are doing research so we can better understand the various laws that may pertain to this issue. We are also listening to what everyone has to say.”

Concerning the possible move to Bayside Park:

“The City hasn’t asked that as far as I know. I think some people may think it would be good for him to move his truck to an area without a lot of restaurants.”

“From the quote in the article, it doesn’t look like anyone has asked them to move. It sounds like the mayor was just throwing out the idea that an under-served area (Bayside Park area) might benefit from access to the food.”

Curry Up Now: Interview with Akash Kapoor

Posted by Cyrus Farivar on October 2, 2009

I was contacted out of the blue by Akash Kapoor, of Curry Up Now, a new Indian taco truck based in Burlingame, Calif. (near SFO airport, in San Mateo County). I haven’t had the pleasure yet of trying its wares, but boy does it sound good!

1) What’s Curry Up Now all about? How’d you get started? What’s your background in food/cooking/eating?

Curry Up Now is essentially authentic Indian street food served on the street, where it belongs. We have mixed in some burritos and tacos in the menu to keep the spirit of a lonchera.

We originally thought about this 10 years ago but other business interests kept us from getting started. Seeing the success of Kogi and other ethnic trucks in SoCal, rekindled the idea and three to four months later, here we are. We have absolutely no background in the food business. We are foodies who have a passion for cooking and sharing.

2) What trucks have been your inspiration? Why start a truck, anyway? What are your favorite local trucks and why?

The success of Kogi and other trucks in LA have been a huge inspiration.

Since our focus is Indian street food, we wanted it to be just that, street food served from a truck.

Believe it or not, we haven’t eaten from a truck, local or anywhere else as yet. One of our associates tried the Kung Fu taco truck in the city and had good things to say about them. I plan on visiting them, Liba SF and El Tonayense soon.

3) What’s been the permit process like? I see you’re operating in San Mateo County, not San Francisco. Is that any easier/harder? Is that a deliberate decision?

The permit process has been brutal. The San Mateo County permit was a breeze but most Peninsula cities have been unwelcoming. This is due to unlicensed trucks all over El Camino Real from Daly City to Mountain View. However, we are hoping Burlingame, Foster City and Belmont will work things out with us. Burlingame has been most helpful and have allowed us to be out on a weekend to weekend basis as of now. We should have the Redwood City permit in a few days as well.

Our truck is in the shop this week to be readied for Santa Clara and San Francisco permits. We will be in the city and South Bay within 3 weeks. We wanted to start with the Peninsula and have a truck each in the city, South & East Bay.

4) What’s the best thing on your menu? How did you come up with these specific items? How does what you’re offering differ from traditional Indian street food?

I’d say the chicken kathi, deconstructed samosa with meat & chana and the doubles (from Trinidad & Tobago). The chicken kathi was inspired by frequent visits to Nizam’s, Kolkatta as a kid but we have changed it a little bit. A few people in the family prefer the samosa shell to the filling, thus was born the deconstructed samosa topped with meat keema. We remove the filling from the shell, top it off with chana, meat keema, onions, jalapenos, tamarind & mint/coriander chutney. Doubles is basically chana bhatura Trindiad & Tobago style. chana bhatura figures in the top five favorite Indian street foods and we had to have this on the truck even though its a pain to make on the truck. We have tried to keep this as trini as possible and have been pleasantly surprised with the response. Since the deconstructed samosa is a home grown recipe, I would rate it as the best thing on the menu and it tastes amazing to boot.

Our food is traditional and authentic Indian Street food, however, we have ‘taco truckized’ the menu with burritos and tacos. We will be featuring a curry from a different region of India each month as well.

5) Thums Up or Limca?

None, Pepsi 0 :-) . We will have Limca & Thums Up on the truck along with mango lassi and mint lemonade.