When we learned that Jester Concepts (the company behind local restaurants including Parlour, Borough, and P.S. Steak) is launching a Parlour burger food truck in February, we had some questions.
The first was, "Will it really be the Parlour burger?"
“It’s all the same,” Mike DeCamp, Jester Concepts’ culinary director, reassured us. “It’s a pretty straightforward thing—at the end of the day, it’s just making a cheeseburger.”
Well, not just any cheeseburger, according to the people who voted with their mouths and gobbled down 137,000 Parlour burgers last year. Obviously there’s a demand. But typically, food trucks morph into brick-and-mortar restaurants—so why is Parlour reversing that formula?
DeCamp explains that it’s partly a marketing effort to promote the Parlour brand to people who aren’t necessarily aware of its North Loop and St. Paul restaurants. In addition, seeing the truck on the move could inspire diners who already enjoy Parlour to swing by the brick-and-mortar locations more often.
The food truck will also help expand Parlour’s catering business. “We have been asked about catering events and festivals, or to go to a wedding venue, and we often have to say no because there’s not the set-up to make our burger,” he says.
“It’s not some kind of magic, but there is a specific kind of equipment we need to make it, and lots of places don’t have that equipment. Now we have everything we need.”
February—when frigid temperatures force office dwellers to huddle in the skyway—seems like the worst possible time of year to launch a food truck. However, DeCamp notes that the Parlour truck isn’t planning to focus on the downtown lunch crowd. Instead, it will make regular appearances at Tattersall Distilling, Indeed Brewing, and Bauhaus Brew Labs.
“Since we’re an extension of a brick-and-mortar, we don’t have to put in the hard work of building our brand from our truck,” he says. “We’re not planning on being downtown every day. We’re just going to be where we really want to be.”
In addition to the burger, the truck will serve fries and a rotating lighter option, like a salad. For catering gigs, an expanded menu and pop-up bar serving the Parlour old fashioned and other cocktails will be available.
“We can build a little Parlour at anyone’s event,” DeCamp says.
Does this food truck venture represent a pivot to mobile eats for Jester Concepts, which shuttered one of their brick-and-mortar restaurants (Lyn-Lake’s Mercado) at the end of 2019?
“This isn’t fortelling a fleet of Parlour food trucks or anything like that. One will probably be enough,” says DeCamp. “[Mercado] had run its course with its lease being up, so we chose not to renew and end that one. I don’t think any of our restaurants other than Parlour make food that fits on a food truck.”
“With Parlour, we have something that people really like, and we want to be able to bring it to them sometimes.”