Time to March on from Febru-weary with Neighborhood Drops & Food Trucks

It was one tough February. Ice, snow, and too many days that were downright dreary. Can we just rename the month Febru-weary? As we catch a break with some warmer days, there’s a light at the end of this long, dark tunnel.  Aren’t we all ready to March forward?

The winter weather dampened my enthusiasm to drive long distances to pick up food, an activity I indulged in every weekend for months. But a growing trend came to the rescue just in time. Restaurants and food truck operators are collaborating with local champions who arrange for deliveries into their respective neighborhoods. The business owners are extending their reach as they struggle to stay afloat, while customers benefit from the opportunity to expand their culinary options while staying close to home.

I’ve been alternating regularly between pick-ups from Woodmoor Eats, which is 20-minutes from my home, and Dinner Deliveries at Poplar Run in the neighborhood adjacent to mine. My treks are shorter these days, but my meals are more globally inspired than ever. Recent expeditions include culinary creations from Little Sesame (Middle Eastern),  Pakos Fresh Mex (Mexico), and Sushi Taro (Japan). I consumed Nashville hot chicken from Schmaltz Brothers kosher food truck one evening, and shrimp etouffee and bread pudding from Puddin’ the next.  Sidenote: this exemplifies my current double life. I have a strictly kosher home, but bring in take-out foods to eat from containers, paper plates, or dishes designated as treif (non-kosher). Before the pandemic, carry-out was a rare occurrence in my home, but now it’s a necessity. 

Schmaltz Brothers matzah ramen

Schmaltz Brothers food truck- matzah ramen

Woodmoor Eats

In April 2020 Kyley McGeeney of Mission Michelin started offering food pickups at her home in the Woodmoor area of Silver Spring. Initially, she arranged for deliveries of oysters and crabs for her neighbors. As demand grew, she began contacting food truck operators, and then full-service independent restaurants. Her efforts evolved into the popular Woodmoor Eats. Announcements are made in a Facebook group, which now has more than 1,200 followers. On any given night – and often during the day- eager patrons line up in the parking lot at Pinecrest Elementary School to order or collect their purchases from vendors.

Woodmoor Eats is all over the map in any given week. Sweetgreen, Charlie’s Empanadas, Money Muscle Barbecue, and the Pie Shop have all stopped by recently. McGeeney is well connected to many of DC’s most popular chefs and restaurateurs, so you’ll also find drop-offs from sought-after spots like Bresca, The Dabney, Tail Up Goat, Rose’s Luxury, Albi, Bad Saint, and Gravitas.

Sushi Taro

Sushi Taro- Woodmoor Eats delivery

McGeeney has compiled a spreadsheet of participating food trucks and restaurants and she shares the list with others who want to undertake this task in their own neighborhoods.  While she is refocusing her efforts back to the home-based private supper club she launched in 2019, McGeeney has a volunteer who will take over booking food trucks for Woodmoor Eats. She also plans to offer pick-ups from chefs who participate in her Woodmoor Supper Club, whenever feasible. In the coming weeks you can expect food from Little Serow, Timber Pizza, Tail Up Goat, Stellina, Trippy Tacos, and much, much more.

Dinner Deliveries at Poplar Run

Heather Fagan began initiating food drops in the Poplar Run development in Silver Spring/Layhill last May. It didn’t take off immediately, but she persevered. Dinner Deliveries at Poplar Run is now thriving. A spin-off, Poplar Run Food Truck Fiesta, is dedicated solely to food trucks.

“I was tired of the same old things and tired of cooking,” says Fagan. “I got an email from Taco Bamba saying they were doing hood drops.” Before she knew it, Fagan was organizing deliveries from Shouk, Lebanese Taverna, RB Grill, and more.

She is now expanding beyond dinner deliveries and hosting special events including a cake pop class with Baked by Yael. Breakfasts and brunches are also in the works. She focuses most of her efforts on Montgomery County businesses. She recently offered a beer drop from Astro Lab Brewing. “Now that I know what to expect with beer, I’m going to branch out and see if there are any wineries in the county that would work for a drop-off,” she says.

Fagan is energized about the expanding opportunities. She is utilizing McGeeney’s spreadsheet for ideas and contacts, as well as gleaning information from Tanya Sisler, who is coordinating deliveries in the Bannockburn neighborhood of Bethesda.

Somehow all of the deliciousness popping up nearly at my doorstep escaped my attention. When I learn about a Poplar Run delivery from RASA, the Indian fast casual restaurant with two locations in DC, I literally jump for joy.  I love RASA. Their customizable bowls are the perfect pandemic takeaway food, as they easily withstand travel. Owners Sahil Rahman and Rahul Vinod are more than savvy business owners. They give back to the community and are often recognized for their work. Thrillist named them local heroes of 2020.

From Thrillist:

Rasa has always been rooted in social good. Sahil Rahman and Rahul Vinod opened their first fast-casual Indian restaurant with a 100% wind-powered store, compostable serveware, and a promise to donate the same number of meals they sold to children in India. But when COVID-19 threatened everyone with food insecurity, the restaurateurs doubled down on their promise… So far, they’ve raised $70,000 and cranked out more than 50,000 meals for just about every community that has been affected by the pandemic. Rahman and Vinod cooked for healthcare workers through World Central Kitchen and Off Their Plate, protesters through Fuel The People, DC-area students with Real Food For Kids, and Rahman says they’ll keep working “to feed as many people who need it as possible.”

RASA recently added neighborhood drops to their repertoire.  “The neighborhood drops have been a great way for us and other restaurants to bring food to where people are,” says Vinod. “Given the lack of office traffic in DC and large populations that have moved out of the city, it allows us to share our food with our neighbors in MD and VA. Overall it’s a win, win for both the guests and the restaurants – allowing us to remain fully staffed and sharing our food with families and neighbors who want to be able to experience RASA from the comfort of their own homes.”

RASA neighborhood delivery- dinner for two

RASA neighborhood delivery- dinner for two

Regardless of where this ends, another benefit of bringing food closer to where people live is introducing diners to new cuisines and restaurants. Little Sesame, the hummus-centric restaurant founded by Nick Wiseman, David Wiseman and Ronen Tenne has been on my to-do list since it opened in 2016. When they deliver to Poplar Run, I finally get my chance to try their food. I’m nearly brought to tears by the perfection of the pita, hummus, and rotisserie chicken.  I’m now eager to visit their downtown locations.

Dinner Deliveries at Poplar Run- Little Sesame

Dinner Deliveries at Poplar Run- Little Sesame

Warmer weather is on the horizon, and more of the population will have access to vaccines.  It will be interesting to see whether restaurants can, or will, continue to increase their footprint with neighborhood deliveries. While food trucks are already mobile, will their owners still be driven to expand their range? Time will tell. The last year has been disastrous for so many restaurants. Perhaps this trend is one small silver lining.

 

—————————-

Visit the websites of any of the restaurants mentioned to arrange for a neighborhood delivery. If you live in Montgomery County, check out the Facebook pages for Woodmoor Eats and Dinner Deliveries at Poplar Run.

Little Sesame

Pakos Fresh Mex

RASA

Schmaltz Brothers Food Truck

 

Anju, Ghostburger, Yellow the Cafe: Let There Be Light!

It’s getting darker earlier. It’s colder outside. Restaurant owners are understandably anxious about how they will survive the winter.  Optimism and action in these pandemic times is essential. These past weeks I have filled much of my spare time lying prostrate on the couch, engrossed in CNN, MSNBC, and television shows that I consider anti-anxiety […]

Ristorante i Ricchi: Dust Off Your Passport

I came across my passport the other day. My heart lurched, and I sighed so loudly that I startled myself. How long will it be before I can use it again? These days a thrilling journey is getting in my car and driving downtown to dine on a restaurant patio, which I’ve only done a […]

Counting My Blessings: 10 Years of Been There, Eaten That

This week marks the ten-year anniversary of Been There, Eaten That. Writing this restaurant blog has often been anxiety-inducing, frustrating, even maddening, but ultimately it’s been rewarding. While I’m slowing down in more ways than one, I still care deeply about supporting restaurants and for better or worse, articulating my feelings online. It’s a weird […]

Restaurant Relationship Status: It’s Complicated

My relationship status with restaurants became official in August 2010, when I launched Been There, Eaten That. My feelings have intensified through the years. Fine dining has played a role in every milestone in my life. Family members and friends- without exception- can relay a story about dining with me, and most likely how I […]

Mama Chang: A Religious Experience

As my husband heads to synagogue, which he does every Saturday morning, I sit at my kitchen table with my own version of worship. I take a deep breath and think back on my week. What did I accomplish at work? What did I read, listen to, or watch that has made an impact on […]

Reverie: Dreams Come True

It is my nine-year blogiversary this month.  It is mind-blowing, surreal, and to me even laughable that I have sustained Been There, Eaten That for this long.  Dining out as my preferred form of entertainment has been a thing for most of my life.  But how does one turn a passion into a blog? Looking […]

Questions or comments?
Send an email to lorisue6@gmail.com