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Story - Food

Aug 13, 2018 10:39 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Opa! Food Truck Is Greek On The Go

Aug 13, 2018 11:24 AM

Here’s what is notably lacking in the Hamptons’ food scene: food trucks. In New York City, food trucks have become the de rigueur lunch option for boomers and millennials alike. In Austin, entire lots are dedicated to the diverse foods offered by trucks. Brooklyn baseball lovers know that Red Hook’s ball fields are about more than just the Great American Pastime: They’re also home to some outstanding, Vendy Award-winning trucks.

Out east, the food truck scene is just emerging.

Enter East Hampton’s Sheri Rosenblatt and Rob Likoff, New York City natives who now call the East End home. Last year, in conjunction with Old Stove Pub general manager George Gounelas, the pair opened a Greek-inspired food truck, Opa! which has been making the rounds and rising in visibility in the Hamptons.

“It starts with my husband,” Ms. Rosenblatt said. “We’re big fans of Old Stove Pub, and George. We like to say that we famously eat out 21 days a month, because I don’t cook. We would go into Old Stove a lot. Incredible steak. Salad with cheese. It’s perfect.”

At the time, Ms. Rosenblatt was commuting back and forth to the city, while her husband lived full-time in East Hampton. On her nights away, Mr. Likoff had nothing to eat. Sheri Rosenblatt suggested a remedy. “Let’s have a truck, so we can eat it all the time!” she told him.

This cheeky business plan was bolstered by the Rosenblatt-Likoffs’ background: marketing. (It was a circuitous path, to be clear: Ms. Rosenblatt began as a registered nurse, working in cardiology, while Mr. Likoff began as a veterinarian, before each found a way into the marketing field.) The two proposed their idea to Mr. Gounelas, and Opa! was born.

The truck, meant to be a casual interpretation of Greek food—Old Stove is a far more formal environment, known largely for its massive marbled steaks—serves approximately seven dishes: gyros (lamb, vegetable, and chicken), Caesar salads (with or without chicken), burgers, souvlaki, Athenian cheese steaks, French fries, and grilled cheese sandwiches, along with water and soft drinks. Sandwiches are priced at around $10 apiece.

Through the course of the food truck’s development, it has expanded its mission as well. Using local produce when available—they source much of what they use this time of year from Water Mill’s Milk Pail—the truck’s partners consider themselves community contributors.

“Some of the farm stands were, like, Why don’t you come to our farm stands?” Ms. Rosenblatt said. Appearing occasionally during the 2017 season at local farm stands parlayed into a relationship with local farmers. Ms. Rosenblatt stressed that using produce was Opa!’s way of giving back to the local community and economy. “It got us involved in understanding the farming and the farmers.”

The essence of Opa! is its lighthearted approach to food, the embodiment of the joie de vivre that Ms. Rosenblatt, Mr. Likoff, and Mr. Gounelas hope to bring to everyday people. It has also provided a point of connection for many in the Hamptons, irrespective of income or social status.

“It could be billionaires, or workers, and we don’t see the difference. We don’t cater to the wealthy. We’re just here,” Ms. Rosenblatt said of her diverse clientele.

It turns out that a food truck may be the great unifier. “It’s fun. It’s fast. You don’t have to think,” she said.

Mr. Gounelas currently runs the Opa! kitchen, sourcing the product and cooking the food. Ms. Rosenblatt employs her marketing talents to promote the truck, book private parties and handle behind-the-scene operations. She also designed the logo and gave the truck its festive name. Mr. Likoff is considered the “point-of-service” partner.

“People love a food truck,” Ms. Rosenblatt said. “In the city, people line up for hours in places where there’s a food truck. I think what a food truck is … is approachable.”

Although Opa! has appeared at several outposts since 2017—until the recent opening of the Clubhouse, it was regularly stationed at the East Hampton Indoor Tennis Club—the truck now resides at the Children’s Museum of the East End in Bridgehampton from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays, rain or shine. Currently, the owners intend to run it at least through the month of October.

The food truck is active on Instagram, with the handle @opaonthego. Learn more at opaonthego.com, or contact party@opaonthego.com or 631-305-4OPA.

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