By Joe Shearer, Photo Editor
The Old Market houses a number of diverse eating options on any given day, but at night, it’s a totally different story.
The place certainly doesn’t die when the restaurants clear out. Downtown Omaha is rife with nightlife options and watering holes. Young adults, out-of-towners, night owls and more can be found perusing the district’s various attractions. And you can’t forget about the countless managers, bartenders and servers who close down said eateries. For many of them, their nights are just beginning. But for these wanderers of the night, their dining options have been limited, if not non-existent, depending on the hour.
Well, now their options are more numerous.
UNO graduates David Burr and Pat Favara are helping fill the Old Market’s late-night food void with the opening of their food truck service, Localmotive.
Seven nights a week, barring inclement weather and major holidays, Burr and Favara can be found in the Ted and Wally’s parking lot from 10 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. (3:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays) slinging gourmet goods out of their customized, generator-powered kitchen on wheels.
Short and sweet, the Localmotive menu includes fancy finger foods, sandwiches and more. Gourmet desserts made by local pastry chef and chocolatier Katie Murphy are also available.
Localmotive has all the bases covered with their sandwich options: vegetarian, chicken and an assortment of beef (right now they have meatball and steak). All served on a lengthy Italian roll, these sandwiches adorn a variety of fresh ingredients and garnishes. The meat of the veggie sandwich is portobello, accompanied by asparagus, red peppers, pickled red onions, arugula with a balsamic drizzle and basil-almond pesto to jazz it up. All sandwiches are $7, and can be served on a focaccia bun for an extra buck.
A recently added item is the local bowl. This is a traditional rice bowl served with chicken or steak and mushrooms, onions, peppers, garlic, ginger and a teriyaki glaze. Toasted almonds top this $6 dish and add an interesting texture.
Localmotive’s signature dish, though, is the Rounder. Exponentially classier than a Hot Pocket and perhaps soon-to-be as acclaimed as the regional Runza sandwich, Rounders are fried sourdough balls stuffed with different ingredients and are served in threes. The styles frequently change, but the egg and Rueben Rounders seem to be constantly available. The egg option comes with Swiss cheese, various herbs and a red pepper coulis dipping sauce. The Rueben is served with pulled turkey breast, sauerkraut, Swiss, red peppers and a remoulade accompaniment. These savory spheres cost $5 for a three-pack.
To complement or finish the entrees, Localmotive offers a variety of hand-cut fry choices and various dessert delicacies. Traditional, Greek and parmesan fries are their latest potato-based offering. The $2 traditional fries are topped with sea salt, herbs and served with an aioli dip. The other options are $3. The Greek fries are garnished with shallots, parsley, sea salt and a squirt of lemon and the parmesan fries come with their namesake, an olive oil drizzle and chipotle ketchup. The ketchup is sweet, yet bold, making it a refreshing diversion from the standards available at most diners.
Not to be overlooked are the rotating dessert selections from The Chocolate Bar’s Katie Murphy. Murphy has worked as pastry chef for local top-tier restaurants M’s Pub and Vivace and is continuing her work independently with her business, The Chocolate Bar. Drool-inducing Butterfinger popcorn and bacon-chocolate chip cookies with a peanut butter filling were being offered earlier in the week.
Despite cool, drizzly weather, passersby and intent customers crowded the windows of the cream-colored truck on April 16. While Localmotive has only been operating for a little over a month, the buzzing crowd made it feel as if Burr and Favara’s peration had been down there for years.
The UNO-educated entrepreneurs were tossing the food truck idea around about a year ago. After planning, deliberation and acquiring a leased parking spot from Ted and Wally’s, the two were ready to bring their idea to fruition. Burr, 26, and Favara, 27, have since cemented Localmotive’s presence as an Old Market destination after opening on March 15. Lacking formal culinary training (although Burr has been involved in many facets of the food industry for years), Burr and Favara are armed with the love of food and the want to bring something new to the table. Favara says that it’s all been about learning on the fly.
“We’re testing new waters every week with this, so what we’re doing now in terms of menu and price structure could be completely different in a month or two,” Favara said.
One thing that is definitely subject to change is the menu. Locally produced ingredients are imperative to Burr and Favara. Their other partner, Dave Scott, works for Wohlner’s grocery and supplies their various doughs. They currently get their chicken and pork from various Nebraska dealers and are presently working to seal deals with various local herb and vegetable suppliers. The two are also using as much of their home-growing space as possible, and are even considering the use of indoor hydroponics, to help produce their supplies. So it is important to note that seasonal availability of certain ingredients will force them to rotate and create new items. That, and they want to make things that they feel like making at the time, Burr said.
“Our concept is keeping a lot of freedom with the menu,” Burr said. “This way it’s always a work-in-progress.”
Localmotive could soon become much more than a late-night operation. With steadily-growing business, a permanent spot down the street from their usual location lined up for the 2012 farmer’s market season and the looming College World Series in sight, the ex-Mav duo is already looking to expand the number of employees and trucks. In addition to their late-night services, Burr and Favara have been doing on-site corporate lunches and dinners at varying locations. All of this accomplishment doesn’t come without hard work, though.
Combined, Burr and Favara work anywhere from 150 to 200 hours a week. Before Localmotive, the two had also been running Lori’s Lunchbox, a catering company. Favara says that Burr is primarily in charge of the truck while he looks over the catering business. Though, the two are always intertwined between both projects. With all of this labor and expansion, the team is hiring a manager, event coordinator and more to help day-to-day operations go more smoothly. With all of the hustle and bustle, though, Burr and Favara find joy in the new experiences they’re creating for themselves and the customer.
“We’re experiencing a constant growth right now,” Burr said. “The response has been phenomenal and we seem to be getting busier each week.”
“People have been making a point to come see us, even if they’re not hanging out in the Old Market,” Favara added. “It’s very encouraging to see so many people support what we’re trying to do.”
So together, these two high school pals will keep their wheels on the track as Localmotive chugs along through new experiences in Omaha’s colorful culinary scene.
The truck operates nightly on the corner of 12th and Jackson streets. For menu, catering information, corporate lunch location schedules and more, go to localmotivefoodtruck.com or call 402-715-5653.