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Wednesday, May 14,2014

New in town

MICHAEL O'S FOOD TRUCK

by ALLAN I. ROSS
I recently told you about the north Lansing food court proposed by entrepreneur Frank Tignanelli, who opened his pizza cart Detroit Frankie’s Wood Fired Brick Oven on the corner of Oakland Avenue and Cedar Street. Tignanelli envisioned an assembly of up to a dozen vendors that would create a destination for lunch diners on the go looking for an alternative to fast food.

Last week that idea came one step closer with the opening of Michael O’s Food Truck, a mobile food cart focusing on smoked meats and sandwiches. Owner/ operator Donald O’Polski named the cart after his father.

“My dad passed away in 2007, but he’s the one who gave me a passion for cooking,” O’Polski said. “He always wanted to open a restaurant. This is one step in that direction.”

Unlike Tignanelli, who’s perfectly happy remaining mobile, O’Polski has dreams of one day opening a brick-andmortar restaurant. (Recent local success stories in that vein include Red Haven, which grew out of the Purple Carrot food truck, and Fork in the Road, which started out as Trailer Park’d.)

“The goal is open a fully operational restaurant as soon as it’s financially feasible,” O’Polski said. “Right now I’m just spending my time perfecting my style.”

O’Polski describes the menu as “classic comfort food, with big portions and big flavors.” All sandwhiches are $5.50 and all sides are $2.50. He hickory smokes the pork in the pulled pork sandwich for 10 hours. It’s served with his scratch-made whiskey BBQ sauce. The breast meat on the smoked turkey sandwich is sliced thick and served cold on Texas toast.

“It’s not your typical turkey sandwich,” O’Polski said. “It tastes like Thanksgiving.”

He said the other outof-the-gate favorite is the bacon mac and cheese, made with a blend of cheeses (including Parmesan, sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack, and bleu cheese) béchamel, and Applewood smoked bacon. The Michael O’s house salad can be served regular or with decidedly non-vegetarian toppings.

“They’re just fine as they are, but they’re a lot better topped with smoked meat,” he said.

O’Polski was born and raised in East Lansing but moved to Arizona five years ago. He came back in November because he “missed the seasons.”

“Not the best winter to come home to,” he deadpanned. “But I wanted to be closer to my family. It’s also nice to see grass again.”

His mother had been operating the trailer at fairs and festivals, so it didn’t take much to convert it into a fulltime food operation. O’Polski said he uses local ingredients as often as he can, and creates all his dressings and sauces from scratch.

If drive up dining still isn’t’fast enough for you, you can call or text your order in ahead of time. Micheal O’s also caters and delivers to businesses in downtown Lansing. And like Tignanelli, O’Polski welcomes other food carts to join the two businesses in the parking lot.

“The plan is to have as many as we can fit and still leave people enough room to drive in,” O’Polksi said. “It’s a very promising location.”

And business, he said, has been booming.

“We’ve only been open a week, but our business has been doubling every day,” O’Polski said. “We’ve seen a lot of repeat customers, too. It’s a good sign of things to come.”

Michael O’s Food Truck 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday 500 E. Oakland Ave., Lansing (517) 930-6333, facebook. com/mobqfoodtruck

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