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Amid controversy, Lagniappes runs Kickstarter for food truck

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

The French Quarter Cafe, known informally as Lagniappes, has embraced the popularity of Buffalo’s food trucks and is raising money full-bore to afford a mobile food vehicle. Through its success vending late-night Lucky Dogs and dinner-time po’ boys—as well as its annual Gator Roast—head chef Chris Silverstein’s business is on the move—maybe literally.

Using Kickstarter, the same fundraising tool that Lloyd Taco Truck employed to crowd-source a down payment for Lloyd Dos, the French Quarter Cafe is a modest $865 into reaching its goal of $12,500. If you’d like to donate, this is the page to do so.

There are several different tiers of rewards in the Kickstarter campaign, with a minimum $10 donation earning a signature on the French Quarter Cafe truck up to a pledge of $2,500+ ending in a trip to New Orleans with Silverstein to hunt gators. Lagniappes t-shirts, bar engravings, mascot gator heads and more are other rewards.

With 36 days remaining in the Kickstarter campaign, Silverstein has already narrowed down his truck design to two choices—a trolley car and a double-decker bus. Buffalo Rising’s Newell Nussbaumer crafted a post detailing the two designs here—photos are included as well.

“The St. Charles Streetcar screams New Orleans,” Silverstein said, “but I also really like the idea of having seating up top,” referring to the advantages of the double-decker option.

When asked to describe his menu—if the funding campaign is successful—Silverstein emphasized that it would largely be driven by customer preference, but would absolutely feature Lagniappes’ favorites like po’ boys and gumbo.

“I want to hear feedback from the [Kickstarter] backers,” Silverstein said in an interview earlier this week. “I want the customers to be a big part of the decision-making.”

Since he’ll be tending to the French Quarter Cafe himself, Silverstein plans to hire a local chef who’s opened several good-name restaurants in the area. Because he has yet to reach out, Silverstein asked that the name not be released.

Should you support the French Quarter Cafe’s push for a Lagniappes food truck? Some tweeters aren’t so sure, especially considering how Lagniappes’ owner Chris Silverstein has allegedly treated food trucks in the past.

Read this Twitter sequence from bottom to top (sorry!):


The night of drama was April 28, when the Whole Hog and Lloyd Taco Truck both setup shop on Allen Street, the former in the parking lot of Holley Farms Market and the latter on the property of Allen Street Hardware. Stories vary on why the police were called, but Lloyd Taco Truck was told that it couldn’t vend from its spot on Allen, so sous chef Teddy Bryant relocated to Thirsty Buffalo on Elmwood Avenue.

Harkening back to that night, Silverstein recalled the situation, explaining a yelling match between the Whole Hog and Lloyd Taco Truck, adding his hunch that it was the Whole Hog who called the police on Lloyd out of fear of competition. “Why is it automatically my fault?” Silverstein wondered in light of the recent social media firestorm.

Still, Silverstein admitted his past dissatisfaction with unlicensed food trucks parking near his restaurant at 220 Allen St.

“We had one food truck show up two years ago that wasn’t licensed, didn’t have a permit and had no health license—nothing at all,” Silverstein said, referring to the Whole Hog’s well-publicized debut. “I had to wait three months for all my permits to get finalized [for Lagniappes]. I have no problem with licensed food trucks—I started off my food business with hot dog carts, after all—but they need to play by the rules.”

Placing a phone call to Kathleen Haggerty, owner of the Whole Hog, this afternoon, she recounted April 28 a little differently than Silverstein’s hunch:

“I thought it was inconsiderate that Pete [Cimino] and Chris [Dorsaneo] (co-owners of Lloyd Taco Truck) didn’t warn me that they’d be parking near me that night,” she said. “But no, I would never call the police on them or try to hurt Pete or Chris.”

“There needs to be respect for each other among food trucks,” Haggerty continued. “I’m on very good terms with Pete and Chris, and I don’t want them to see this as a facade. We should be working together—I just want to serve, work and rock ‘n’ roll.”

Tracing back through social media to April 28, here’s the exchange between Lloyd Taco Truck and Lagniappes.


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For more of the argument that’s reignited today, take a look at the comments section of Nussbaumer’s Buffalo Rising article.

In our chat, Haggerty said that most of the feuds between the food trucks are “water under the bridge,” and in a lot of cases, this may be true. Still, by sifting through the information and arguments above, would you support the Lagniappes food truck campaign? The decision is yours.

TAGGED: chris silverstein, food trucks, french quarter cafe, kathleen haggerty, lagniappes, lloyd taco truck, the whole hog

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  1. Lagniappes Allentown October 11, 2012 @ 7:35pm

    Rumors…
    I’m really sorry that a few of you would actually believe that I was the one calling the police and say that I hate food trucks.

    This all started from one person on Facebook. No one ever bothered to just ask me? If anyone wants to know my opinion just ask. I contacted everyone involved by phone and email, no one responded. I just got a visit from a drunken lawyer at 10am.

    I have publicly welcomed and even posted menus form new competitors in the area on Facebook over the years. Hearing how these people hate me so much is a little depressing, the name calling and wishing my business fails? Really? If you don’t personally know me and want to ask me for my side of the story please feel free to ask, there are two sides to every story.

    This all started with a single rumor and has exploded into me being a demon.

    I have been cooking for 26 years, have received many awards, and cooked in some of the finest restaurants in town. I opened Lagniappes 6 years ago. I love Allen Street and all my customers.

    I’d like to address some of the things I have been reading..

    Being in business is hard, I don’t have partners to help when times are bad and I don’t come from money so everything is on my shoulders. In years past it was always easy to calculate inventory but over the last few years with the economy being as bad as it is, it’s so hard to judge how much to buy, so we run out of stuff. When I run out of something I hate myself, but I’d rather run out of something then throw it away because we had a bad night.


    My hours got a little funky last fall and early this summer when I got seriously sick and had to take a lot off time for treatments. I know my hours were confusing and it killed me not to be open at times when I normally was. Also at times when you’re having a slow day you need to close early sometimes. I’m also a single father and over the last year there have been some family issues that needed to be handled.

    I take pride in my food and in every dish I prepare. You can’t please everyone, but I believe most of my guests leave happy. And after six years I’m still here, so I guess it’s not all bad.

    I am not perfect and I have made mistakes some of them beyond my control. I love what I do! I love to serve my guests; most of you are not just customers but friends now. I thank you for your past support and hope you continue to visit Lagniappes on Allen or hopefully our new truck on your street.

    Chris Silverstein

    French Quarter Café
    220 Allen St.
    Buffalo, NY 14201
    716-883-3663

     

    Lagniappes Allentown's avatar
  2. Haley Hartmans October 12, 2012 @ 3:16pm

    Chris, I ate at Lagniappes this Wednesday night. My food was delicious. I had the steak po-boy, and it was excellent. However, I would be reluctant to go back again soon. What’s the word on your liquor license? I would imagine that not serving alcohol is really hurting your business. I’d certainly be back sooner if I could have a beer with my sandwich. If you can’t get a license, what are the BYOB options? Also, while I have your attention, I’d like to mention that the service was sub-par. The place was completely empty except me and my friend and our waitress was mostly MIA.

    Regardless, the food was great, so I hope you continue to be successful. Best of luck.

    Haley Hartmans's avatar