The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, November 25, 2020 1:00 am

Bistro hits the road with new food bus


Cam Kaminski and Jake Koczergo had their sights set on being a downtown lunch spot when they opened Bistro Nota in 2019. Serving approachable French-American fare, they offer dishes, sandwiches, entrees and soups and salads.

But things have changed since they opened. The chefs are doing their best to adapt and serve their customers in this COVID-19 climate.

Bistro Nota recently unveiled its new food bus, with a new focus. Rather than model itself after traditional food trucks, they want to become a neighborhood restaurant on wheels.

“We got the food truck and the idea that we were going to run it with the restaurant,” Kaminski says.

However, the ever-changing guidelines and dynamics for operating a restaurant during the pandemic made it challenging. They wanted to operate safely, without putting their small staff at risk. And, they recognized that many regular customers were working from home.

Instead of people using limited lunch breaks to grab a sandwich, Kaminski says, they decided to bring the food to the people.

The Bistro Bus has been outfitted with a router that allows for online ordering and the pickup window makes it a contactless dining experience. A recent event at a school allowed staff to order in advance online and select a pickup time.

“We knew exactly what to bring and when to serve it during their lunch hour,” Kaminski says.

The menu features snacks such as Creole Taters, which are tossed in Parmesan and creole seasoning. Sandwiches include the Frenchman, which has braised beef short rib and provolone; and the Sloppy Nota, their twist on the traditional sloppy Joe. There will be sweet surprises, too.

The team is hoping to take the Bistro Bus to neighborhoods and businesses throughout the cold months. Just as food trucks have rallies in the summer, they want to have weekly pop-up-style events.

“It can be a fun little event if you make it one,” Kaminski says. “It's supposed to bring levity during the holidays, which are naturally a time when people get more emotional.”

Currently, Bistro Nota is closed for dine-in and carryout although they are using the space for prep. However, the hope is to reopen the restaurant in late winter.

“We're looking to come back as soon as we can,” Kaminski says.

Wagyu wins again

Pete Eshelman has a secret. The key to the award-winning beef at Joseph Decuis is that the 100% Wagyu cattle are raised with love.

The Roanoke restaurant and farm follow traditional Japanese husbandry practices, raising the cattle that are known for its rich flavor and marbling.

The wagyu – and Joseph Decuis – recently earned the title of grand champion for the second year in a row at the Triple Crown Steak Challenge.

“We were truly honored to win this again,” co-owner Alice Eshelman says. “There are a lot of great steaks out there and to have ours score constantly high across the different categories was what made it a winner.”

The competition is open to beef farmers, primarily Wagyu beef, which applies a scientific method of judging the rib-eye cut to determine the best steak raised in America. Entries were judged in five categories: taste, tenderness, lipid extraction, complete fatty acid profile and the Japanese carcass camera.

Around town

Sapporo Steakhouse will be open noon to 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Call 739-6064 for reservations.

• El Taquero, 4507 Coldwater Road, is now open. For hours and information, call 484-8226.

• Friendly Fox, 4001 South Wayne Ave., and Bahn Mi Pho Shop, 1925 Fairfield Ave., have suspended in-person dining. Carryout options are available.

Christmas specials

Restaurants and bakeries with holiday deals or advance ordering should email by Dec. 11 for possible inclusion in a future column.

The Dish features restaurant news and food events and appears Wednesdays. Fax news items to 461-8893, email or call 461-8304 at least two weeks before event or desired publication.

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