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FOOD DISH

Kogi mastermind capitalizes on food-truck mania

Also, 'Top Chef's' Ilan Hall to open a restaurant in L.A.

August 05, 2009|Jessica Gelt;Elina Shatkin

If you're a savvy entrepreneur behind a food-truck juggernaut, what do you do when others start pouring into the market? Mark Manguera, the mastermind behind Kogi, is capitalizing on L.A.'s food-truck movement and championing his own as its king.

Manguera is in talks with Morris Appel of RoadStoves about starting a consulting business for mobile vendors. Appel, who has a stake in A La Carte (the company that leases the majority of L.A.'s food trucks), was instrumental in Kogi's success. The hope is to take the food truck business to the next level.

Currently RoadStoves is a one-stop shop for clients with dreams of opening a rolling restaurant. Not only will it lease you the truck, it will custom-build it if need be. It will also handle permits and licenses, help you craft an image, teach you viral marketing tricks, help with logos, marketing and publicity, and basically be on call when you have questions or concerns about your new business.

"We decided to try to continue [the truck mania] rather than let it become a dying fad," says Appel, whose partner is lawyer Josh Hiller. He says he has about seven new trucks ready to launch (including a pretty high-profile one in Hollywood that is still very much hush-hush).

"We're shooting for a homey, family feeling," Appel says. "Instead of trying to tear down the competition, Kogi is embracing people."

-- Jessica Gelt

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'Top Chef' Hall to open eatery

Named after a Glasgow neighborhood that was once the equivalent of New York's Lower East Side, the Gorbals -- from "Top Chef" Season 2 winner Ilan Hall -- is set to open next month in the Alexandria Hotel downtown. (It's not in the former Charlie O's, which Hall says is slated to open as a bar called the Down & Out, but in a space next to it.)

Born to a Scottish father and an Israeli mother, Hall's playing up a cheeky, eclectic sensibility -- a mix of cuisines with a hefty dose of New York attitude. The menu will center on 15 appetizer-sized plates, each less than $15.

"My father's Glaswegian. My mother's from Jerusalem. I grew up with Scottish food," Hall says. "I grew up with really Jewish food and a lot of Eastern European-influenced food. I think ham makes hummus taste better."

On the wine list: about 10 whites, 10 reds and a few roses as well as a full bar featuring a small but carefully curated Scotch whisky list.

Hall plans to open the Gorbals between Aug. 18 and Aug. 20.

-- Elina Shatkin

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