Ebbett’s Good to Go Debuts at Berkeley’s Off the Grid

by Sarah Henry on August 17, 2011 · 13 comments

in berkeley bites,food events,street food

The distinctive baby blue truck known as Ebbett's Good to Go. Photo: Shari Washburn

Finally, the local gals get to park their food truck close to home. The duo behind Ebbett’s Good to Go, which currently hawks gourmet sandwiches to the lunchtime office set in Emeryville and San Francisco, will bring their mobile eatery to serve their neighbors at Off the Grid North Berkeley tonight.

Shari Washburn and Suzanne Schafer: Chief street truck sandwich makers.

Regular readers of this site may recall that these two food-loving moms, who live in Berkeley, set out this time last year to run a lunchtime food truck and still find a way to spend afternoons with their children.

“We both have husbands who work long hours and young kids, so we wanted something that would work with a school pick-up schedule,” Shari Washburn told Berkeleyside right before their launch last year at the Eat Real Festival. “And we did our research and we felt that there wasn’t anywhere in town selling really good sandwiches, so there was a market we could fill.”

And fill it they did, offering gourmet sandwiches like spicy Cuban pulled pork with ham, gruyère, jalapeňo relish and chipotle mayo; Guinness and coffee braised short ribs with horseradish mayo, pickled red onion and watercress; and shredded tofu and Vietnamese-style Banh Mi with house-baked Hodo Soy Beanery tofu, pickled carrots, cucs, piquillo peppers, spicy pesto and sriracha mayo, all served on Acme Bread rolls, all $8.

Washburn, who lives in North Berkeley in walking distance of Off the Grid, is delighted that the baby blue, wood-paneled truck she runs with partner Suzanne Schafer can now show off its stuff in a setting that also includes families (expect a child-friendly grilled cheese on the menu tonight.)

“We’ve been wanting to find a way to join Off the Grid since the beginning but we didn’t have the staff and have had other commitments this summer,” said Washburn. “But we’re good to go now.”

Ebbett's shredded tofu sammie is popular among the veggie set.

That’s not their only news. The pair celebrated their truck’s one-year anniversary by hiring chef David Elias, who hails from a fine dining background (Hawthorne Lane and Heart in San Francisco, ad hoc in Yountville, Bay Wolf in Oakland), to help take their budding mobile food business to the next level on the culinary front.

The trio know each other personally — all their kids are at the same school together, albeit in different grades. Professionally, they know each other’s work because Ebbett’s is based out of the same commercial kitchen in Emeryville that Elias used for his most recent culinary venture, the pop-up restaurant known as dine@.

Elias is quick to praise what the two amateur cooks have created in a year — a thriving moveable feast operating four days and in several locations a week. He brings a culinary professional perspective and skill set to the curbside setting and says he’s tweaking everything from menus and kitchen management, with the goal to move the business beyond the home-kitchen style start-up. He says he’s streamlining day-to-day systems and bringing up the food production a notch, as well as rolling out more seasonal offerings and weekly specials.

“Whether in fine dining or on a food truck, as a chef, I’m dedicated to delivering truly great food and improving on the food experience every day,” said Elias, who will likely man the van with a crew on Wednesday nights without Washburn and Schafer, whose commitment to work-home balance is admirable in an industry predicated on long, family-unfriendly hours. Washburn and Schafer will be there tonight though, likely with kids in tow, before swim meets and homework make mid-week night work too difficult.

For now, the gameplan is for Ebbett’s to serve up sammies every other week at Off the Grid. The truck will also take part in three of the four weekend food truck hubs as part of Off the Grid: Golden Gate Fields, scheduled August 27, September, 3, 10, and 17. (Ebbett’s is off the grid, literally, for the Labor Day weekend.)

The race track events, announced last week, are being billed as the biggest food truck hub ever held in the Bay Area and attendees are encouraged to watch and wager while they scarf down sliders.

Think 30 or so trucks, horses, music, and maybe even punters wearing funny hats. Fittingly, given the venue and the event, a hat hawker will be on hand for those who forget their Fedora.

This post originally appeared on Berkeleyside.

You might also like:

Off the Grid & Bites on Broadway: Food Trucks Debut in East Bay
Street Food Scene Mostly Bypasses Berkeley
Two Berkeley Moms Try Their Hand at Street Eats
Street Cart Cuisine: Think Global, Eal Local
San Francisco’s Street Eats Scene

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Sheryl August 22, 2011 at 4:40 pm

What a cool-looking truck. I’ll bet the food is just as good as the truck looks, too.

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Sarah Henry August 23, 2011 at 3:39 pm

The gals who run this biz have put a lot of thought into every aspect — from the food to their “look” — and it’s paid off.

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meredith August 24, 2011 at 6:48 am

I am just becoming aware of more food trucks here in OC (so Cal) and would love to find something like this, here!
meredith´s last [type] ..The 5-Question [Author] Interview: Alisa Bowman

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Sarah Henry August 24, 2011 at 7:25 am

Lemme know what you discover, Meredith. And happy curbside eating.

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Living Large August 24, 2011 at 12:01 pm

We don’t have food trucks in our neck of the woods, but we call them food “shacks,” small shed like structures placed in other businesses parking lots. We have coffee and light breakfast ones, hot dogs and a hamburger shack.

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Sarah Henry August 30, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Shacks, trucks, stands — who cares about how the food is served up as long as it tastes good.

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Shari August 26, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Thanks for a great article Sarah! I can’t believe it’s taken being off for a few days to have the time to leave a comment. Hope to see you at the truck really soon.

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Sarah Henry August 30, 2011 at 4:27 pm

My pleasure, Shari. Might try and stop by tomorrow night. It’s been a busy week or so in food so I haven’t had time to stop by as yet, but will soon.

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Jane Boursaw August 26, 2011 at 6:07 pm

What a cool venture. Love hearing about moms and business women who take the initiative and do something they’re passionate about. Still waiting for food trucks in the Traverse City area.
Jane Boursaw´s last [type] ..The Hunger Games: First Teeny-Tiny Peek at Katniss in Motion

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Sarah Henry August 30, 2011 at 4:28 pm

I’m with you, Jane. Anytime a working mom starts a business she loves — and it does well — it gives me hope for all those other moms who’d like to quit their day job and do something that makes them happy and pays the bills.

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MyKidsEatSquid August 27, 2011 at 12:08 pm

I love the versatility and possibilities that food trucks offer. I have a friend who used to live in Boulder who did a cupcake cart.

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Sarah Henry August 30, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Agreed, MKES. Cupcakes, pies, snow cones, ice cream — along with all kinds of savory grub — a lot is possible out of a food truck.

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