Breaking up is hard to do…Saying “good-bye” brings tears to my eyes, but…enough with my sappy rhetoric. The orange Here and There Grill truck will continue serve up the fabulous fare, which I — and many Edmonds locals — find addictive. Parked in the usual spot, at 4th and Dayton on Wednesdays, grilled turkey sandwiches and other favorites will be cooked up as usual, by a new grill master and crew.
Julie Malcolm’s eloquent words, atop the header of last week’s Here and There Grill menu, say it best:
“I want to let you all know that after 10 years in business, I am retiring…I am excited to announce that as of Sept 1st, Chef Dane and Co. will be taking over. They will continue with the same menu and concept …and will be adding some of their own delicious menu items. They will still operate at the same locations.
I want to thank all of you so very much…from those of you that have been loyal customers from the beginning…to all the others that given me a try over the years. I appreciate each one of you.
I am looking forward to new adventures and to enjoying the memories.
Thank you again for your support, I’ll miss you.”
A traveling restaurant on wheels is a fairly new phenomenon in its current format, but the history of food trucks goes way back to post-Civil War times! Chuck wagons fed the hungry herders while on cattle drives. Mobile food trucks have been around for years, serving construction sites and other blue-collar professions.
The food truck resurgence was fueled by a combination of post-recessionary factors. The construction business was drying up, leading to a surplus of food trucks. Chefs from high-end restaurants were being laid off. For experienced cooks suddenly without work, the food truck seemed a clear choice.
Julie Malcolm says restaurant work is in her blood. Her career began with her father’s restaurant and a phone call — the dishwasher didn’t show up for work. Julie also waitressed at Café de Paris.
I asked Julie how she came up with the Here and There Grill name. “I didn’t even know what to call my business,” Julie says. When she first considered the leap from Little League concessionaire to proprietor of a mobile food truck, she enlisted the help of family and friends. A brainstorming session — over dinner, of course — inspired food-fueled ideas, which led to both the company’s name and the words of a mission statement on the website.
“We draw our inspiration from our extensive cookbook collection and seasonal ingredients, and we love global flavors. So our menu has a little something from here and a little something from there.”
And the orange truck has certainly been here and there and everywhere… many locations and days of the week over the years.
Julie’s favorite is still her first spot — Wednesdays at 4th and Dayton in downtown Edmonds. I believe the local food community agrees…as phones ring with orders, even before the official start time of 11 a.m. Business is steady all day — even at 7 p.m., folks relax and visit at the brightly covered tables on summer evenings.
Conversations with those in line, while waiting for their food, reveal that a visit to the orange truck is a weekly event. Diners stroll from work or home, motor over on golf carts, and drive from as far away as Woodinville. All agree this is fabulous cuisine.
Events and catering fill in the gaps between the weekday spots. I ask Julie if she has any special memories?
Her favorite, Survive the Streets, is a family event. For five years, her husband and kids — even extended family — have driven the orange truck to downtown Seattle early on Thanksgiving morning. Upon arriving, Here and There Grill served up breakfast at the annual event, which provides clothing and other essentials to folks without a permanent spot to call home.
“I’m grateful to locals whose generous donations of clothing, sleeping bags and other necessities for folks living on the streets, boosts the morale of the recipients and certainly increases the success of the event each year,” Julie says, adding her family goes home to their own Thanksgiving meal, filled with awe.
She has also catered weddings where guests walk up and get food from the truck in a more casual setting. But sometimes the private home sites provide challenges. Heading down the drive to a family wedding held in their own backyard presented an obstacle — a low-hanging telephone line. An intrepid employee came to the rescue. Perched on the roof of the truck, he lifted the wire over the truck’s top vent chimney, both coming in and going back out.
Julie has been rescued more than once. Another wedding generated a concern about enough langoustine to fill the demand, resulting in a “quick supplier stop” that stranded her truck. A Good Samaritan who happened to be a mechanic got the orange vehicle on the road again. “We still served the menu according to the timetable in my contract,” she says.
Julie figures they serve about a total of 550 meals Monday through Friday; the peak day is Wednesday’s spot in Edmonds. “We serve over 300 dinners and meals to local Edmonds folks,” she says.
Recipients of the weekly email blast see tried-and-true favorites on this week’s Here and There menu.
Locals know they can always count on grilled turkey sandwiches and black bean sliders — these constitute about a third of her business volume. But Reuben sandwiches are highly requested along with French dip sandwiches. Her award-winning clam chowder and other soups are popular, especially in chilly weather when they double as hand-warmers while one waits in line for the rest of the order.
Then there are seasonal items, like this week’s fried green Tomato BLT – cornmeal-breaded and fried green tomatoes, plus bacon, lettuce and mayo on toasted sourdough. Glad to hear that the local produce place had the goods to make them.
In my humble opinion, the best part of all menus are the desserts.What are the favorites at Here and There Grill?
Julie says that salted brown butter Rice Crispy treats (a temptation that my entire family enjoys, for sure) are niece Emily’s specialty. Emily’s been by her auntie’s side for almost the entire 10 years of her career. Key lime frosted cookies are the other big seller.“People will call up and order 10 at a whack,” she says.
The new name for the truck will be Here and There by Chef Dane. “The orange truck color will remain, at least to some degree,” says Chef Dane Catering partner Carol Anne Lee.”Menu concept will stay in place and include some of the favorites as well as new items to try.”
“Locations are the same and the truck will continue to be available for special, as well as private events,” she adds. “We are excited to have a new concept to add to our existing business. They will blend well together. A big bonus — people won’t have to plan a party to enjoy our food now.”
For folks like yours truly, who have the phone number on their speed dial, Chef Dane assured me that Here and There Grill’s phone number will remain with the business and order placement will be a seamless process. Whew!
What will Sept. 2 look like? Julie smiles. “I guess I will slow down, and take better care of myself,” she said.
“Have you booked an appointment all day at a spa?” I ask.
“Nah… I will travel,” she replies.
“House is rented out.” Julie and her hubby are free. “We’ll travel to Ecuador and live local for a while, maybe six months.” Eyebrows raised, she says “Who knows? Maybe we’ll open a restaurant in Ecuador.”
Julie sees many adventures ahead and no regrets. She laughs again. One of the things she enjoys about the business and a selling point too — “We have no rude people, no complainers.”
People visit in line as they wait. It’s a weekly — sometimes daily — ritual. Local folks appreciate Here and There Grill’s delicious healthy, food served up with a smile.
— By Kathy Passage