Evanston, the Hummingbird has landed.
This morning marked the maiden voyage of the first licensed Evanston food truck, the Hummingbird Kitchen. After navigating their way through a number of Evanston City Council meetings, the trio behind Hummingbird finally won approval to prepare meals made to order on their truck. Tuesday, around 11:15 a.m., the truck rolled up to the northwest corner of Chicago and Clark, about 15 minutes in advance of its grand opening.
As one of the three owners, Heather Behm, set out the menu sign and attempted to raise the truck's awning, passersby started to take notice. Danny Miller, a Northwestern staffer in the university's student affairs department was the first potential customer on the scene. "I wanted to be first," said Miller, describing himself as an "avid food truck follower," who head about the opening from Hummingbird's Twitter page.
"I might be the first to create their Yelp," he said.
Inside the third partner, Vince DiBattista, was busy running the kitchen. Under his direction, his three or four chefs began their prep work. The kitchen worked quickly, looking as if cooking on a truck were second nature.
"We're ready to go," DiBattista said. "This is a big deal."
Miller ordered the first meal, a crab cake sandwich. Behm handed it down from the truck window. "Thanks for being first," she said. "No charge!" Miller unwrapped his sandwich to take a look. He observed that the crab cake looked fresh and that the radish seemed crisp. He took a bite, and mouth still full, immediately proclaimed: "I'll be back. It's good. Hot, delicious."
More and more hungry and curious Evanston residents gathered. As noon approached, the line was about six customers deep. Behm thinks that despite the late season start, people will keep coming. "Winter won't stop us. We'll have soups, stews and chilis. Plenty to keep warm."
Danny Miller was happy to hear that. "The food is better when it's made to order. And I like supporting a local business," he said. "I'll be sending lots of students this way."