Saturday, July 9, 2011

Brunch Box to Give Your Coffee What It Deserves

Food trucks have always been great at satisfying the late night bar crowd, and nothing satisfies a lunchtime hunger like a meal on wheels. Today's mobile eateries also work the dinner scene with style, and Nick's Wheely Good Breakfast started satisfying the early morning crowd in June. Now there's a new San Francisco food truck set to tackle the last remaining food frontier. Enter Brunch Box.

Set to launch July 16th as a pop-up outside Ritual Roasters on Valencia and helmed by former Chairman Bao operators Caroline Hummer, Guillermo Perez and Eric Rud, Brunch Box is an innovative concept to pair brick and mortar coffee establishments with French-inspired mid-morning fare and a San Francisco twist.

"What makes our truck different is our plan to team up with coffee shops," Hummer, the 24 year old Cal grad who succeeded Rud as the operator of Chairman Bao, told us. To that end, shacking up with java joints is also a clever tactic to deal with San Francisco's less-than-tropical climate. "We're hoping that it will make our truck less seasonal than others in the Bay, as people will be able to sit inside as the weather worsens."

Perez and Rud are also current collaborators on Eat Curbside, the Airstream eatery that Rud brought with him from Minneapolis. Eat Curbside isn't going away, though. The Eat Curbside team will stay intact while Brunch Box makes appearances at Sightglass on Fridays, Ritual on Saturdays and Ritual's Proxy location in Hayes Valley on Sundays.

If the name "Brunch Box" rings a bell, it's because it also happens to be the name of the Eat St.-featured Portland food cart famous for the YouCanHasCheesburger. The two aren't related, though.

"We are not affiliated with that venture," Portland Brunch Box owner Derek Coughlin said of the San Francisco truck. "And frankly, I'm not very happy about it."

But Hummer doesn't believe there will be any name confusion between two single-entity mobile food vendors in different states. "We did not know about them" until recently, Hummer said, "but we wish them—and any other like-named establishments around the world—the best."

Case in point, there is also a Brunch Box in Morrisville, NC and an unaffiliated one in Lakeland, FL, although those are both sit down establishments. Paris, France is also home to a Brunch Box.

Chairman Bao is no stranger to name controversy. Eddie Huang, of New York's Baohaus, has accused the San Francisco bun maker of taking its name and inspiration from his restaurant's best-selling dish. It's a claim Chairman Bao owners dismiss to a common play on words.

Meanwhile, preparations for next Saturday's unveiling of San Francisco's latest cure for the weekend brunch blues continue. Menu options to go along with your cup of joe include a Ricotta Pancake Souffle with pinot noir black pepper cherry compote, Croque Madame, Pork Belly Hash and a Lamby Sandwich with merguez sausage, arugula and harissa.

Does the trio plan to park the truck at some of the more conventional stops like Off the Grid? "We love Off the Grid," Hummer said, "but they don't offer any breakfast locations."

We hope Matt Cohen is taking notes.

Fogcutter (@fogcuttersf)

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