Newark, DE: Edible Newark – City Heats Up with Restaurant Week, Deer Park food Truck
By Ryan Cormier | Delaware Online
Instead of being called a food truck, The Roaming Raven might be better described as a food tank.
The hulking custom-made truck, which began to appear in front of Newark’s Deer Park Tavern last week, is the newest addition to Ashby Hospitality Group, which owns and operates Deer Park, Cantwell’s Tavern in Odessa, and the trio of McGlynns Pubs in Glasgow, Dover and near Newark.
The appearance of the shiny new truck is timed perfectly to the launch of the eighth annual Newark Restaurant Week, which starts Monday and runs through Jan. 26, offering discounted lunches and dinners at nearly 20 downtown restaurants.
While the truck will not be up and running by then, it will be parked out front, allowing patrons to check out the rolling restaurant, named for the Deer Park’s mascot of sorts, which is emblazoned on the restaurant’s logo. (Part of the Deer Park’s lore is that poet Edgar Allan Poe, best known for his poem “The Raven,” once stayed at the old St. Patrick’s Inn, which once stood on the same site.)
The truck, which Deer Park co-owner Bob Ashby says cost “the same amount that some people open up restaurants with,” should begin serving hot breakfast sandwiches, cheesesteaks and fruit smoothies in front of the Deer Park by next month when University of Delaware’s spring semester begins.
“We hope to catch people and college kids walking by who might not go into the restaurant,” Ashby says. “The two things we want to do is inexpensive and fast. The idea is that by the time you have your money out, we’ll have your food sitting there for you.”
While food trucks are largely disallowed in downtown Newark as not to undercut the established restaurants, according to city officials, the Deer Park’s truck sits on the restaurant’s property and falls within the city’s rules.
The Roaming Raven, made by Custom Mobile Food Equipment of Hammonton, N.J., will also be used at festivals and is already slated to appear at this fall’s Punkin Chunkin in Sussex County. It will be available for parties and events for those looking for an outside-of-the-box and on-four-wheels caterer, capitalizing on the growing popularity of food trucks in cities across the country.
Inside, the truck is a blur of stainless steel. There’s the six-burner stove, a 36-inch grill, a deep fryer, two convection ovens for baking bread and even a beer tap, which can be used at private events – but not for selling suds on Main Street.
The truck’s name was chosen from suggestions solicited on Facebook and runner-ups like “Deer Parked” made it onto the truck as a slogan, of sorts. “Hungry never more,” a play on a line from “The Raven,” is also on the truck.
The Deer Park is one of 19 participating restaurants for the eighth annual Newark Restaurant Week, which offers discounted meals in an attempt to lure diners into downtown during a traditionally slow time during the heart of winter.
Diners will have a choice of a two-course dinner for $22 or a three-course dinner for $28. Two-course lunches are also offered for $10. If you go to www.enjoydowntownnewark.com, you will find the special restaurant week menus of each restaurant.
For example, Tarantella di Napoli is offering a three-course dinner allowing diners to choose from fried calamari, a plate of prosciutto, mozzarella and roasted red peppers or a Caprese salad to start. Flounder parmigiana, vegetable cannelloni or chicken cannelloni are the entree choices with homemade tiramisu or zeppole for dessert.
Former Newark Mayor Vance Funk was in office when he helped create Newark Restaurant Week and has eaten at all seven events, dining at multiple spots each year. The first year proved to be a major success with some restaurants seeing triple or four times its sales compared to the same week the year before, he says.
Even as the years have gone by, restaurants still see results, says Dana Johnston, Newark’s community affairs officer and one of the restaurant week organizers. It also helps that newer, quality restaurants like 16 Mile Taphouse, Tarantella di Napoli and Taverna have opened in town in recent years.
“There is a major uptick in businesses that week and that’s why we continue to do it,” Johnston says. “Winter session is a notoriously slower time for our downtown businesses, so it’s a great time to bring people back downtown at a time when people are getting cabin fever and are looking for something to do.”
For Funk, even out of office, Newark Restaurant Week will find him dining on Main Street several nights next week.
“Everybody wants me to eat at their place. I’m trying to get through about 15 restaurants in one week,” he jokes. “No wonder I have a weight problem.”
IF YOU GO
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Newark Restaurant Week
WHEN: Monday through Jan. 26
WHERE: Nineteen participating Newark restaurants
COST: Two-course dinner $22, three-course dinner $28 and two-course lunch $10. “Friends and Family Meals” are also offered at some restaurants for $22.
16 Mile Taphouse, Ali Baba Middle Eastern Restaurant, Buffalo Wild Wings, Café Olé, Caffé Gelato, California Tortilla, Catherine Rooney’s, Cosi, Deer Park Tavern, Grotto Pizza, Home Grown Café, Iron Hill Brewery, Kildare’s Irish Pub, Klondike Kate’s, The Saigon Vietnam Restaurant, Sandwich Town USA, Santa Fe Mexican Grill, Tarantella di Napoli and Taverna
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