The Bavarian Inn's Cheese Trap catches customers on and off property.
Food trucks have far outlasted their “trendy” tag to become a staple for sustenance almost anywhere in the country. Hotels have been adding their own food trucks to the mix the past few years, with properties like Willows Lodge in Woodinville, Washington, even figuring out how to make a food truck profitable within a lodging/events environment (read our story about their Barking Frog truck here.)
At the Bavarian Inn in Frankenmuth, Michigan—opened in 1888 by the Zehnder family and still operated by them today—their foray into food trucks started last May, with their Frankenmuth Cheese Haus providing a mobile menu muse, resulting in The Cheese Trap truck. While many epicurean entrepreneurs buy a used vehicle and refurbish it to fit their particular culinary concept, the Bavarian Inn purchased a brand-new, 24-foot custom truck from Prestige Food Trucks in Elkhart, Indiana, which also applied the graphics and logo wrap designed by the Bavarian Inn’s marketing team.
The Cheese Trap was used for ten events at the resort in 2017, often parked in front of the hotel for large banquets or weddings. Depending on the event, guests either approach the truck for food, or Cheese Trap staff—dressed in black chef coats and logoed ballcaps—will pass items reception-style inside the property.
“It gives us a chance to supply F&B in a unique and creative way,” says Martha Zehnder Kaczynski, CMP, VP, and 4th generation owner at the Bavarian Inn. Menu items include an array of cheesy comfort food, including fried curds, mac and cheese bites, and gourmet grilled cheese like The Quad: cheddar, mozzarella, bleu, and Cheese Haus garlic cheese spread on multigrain bread; and Bavarian Black Forest Ham, with layered ham and Swiss, and Franconian mustard on housemade Bavarian Inn pretzel bread.
While the Frankenmuth Cheese Haus celebrates its 50th year in 2018, The Cheese Trap will participate in the Funtown Chowdown Food Truck Festival at River Place Shops adjacent to the hotel, on the second Thursday of every month from May to September. The Cheese Trap made its public debut there last year (when it was called the Food Truck Festival and was a one-day event) and doubles as additional advertising for the Cheese Haus and the Bavarian Inn. The Funtown Chowdown will feature 20 food trucks—double last year’s number—and will host a Battle of the Breweries with tap takeovers by regional craft brewers.
“We expected about 1,000 people last year and ended up having over 5,000 people attend,” says Zehnder Kaczynski. “We anticipate The Cheese Trap being requested for more events at the hotel this year due to the exposure it will get during the Festival.”