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Food truck brings coffee, beignets to early risers

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Erin Rinkel, employee of The Early Bird and fourth-year in early and middle childhood studies, drinks a beverage inside the food truck, which opens at 7 a.m. weekdays.  Credit: Alex Drummer / Oller reporter

Erin Rinkel, employee of The Early Bird and fourth-year in early and middle childhood studies, drinks a beverage inside the food truck, which opens at 7 a.m. weekdays.
Credit: Alex Drummer / Oller reporter

There is a new food truck in the University District that is serving up a simple breakfast New Orleans style.

“It’s a classic combination — doughnuts and coffee,” said Libby Glover, owner of The Early Bird.

The food truck is nestled in front of the Indianola Church of Christ at 2141 Indianola Ave. Instead of traditional baked doughnuts, the Early Bird offers beignets — a Southern favorite. A beignet is a cripsy, French-style doughnut that is fried and often covered in either cinnamon and sugar or just powdered sugar. Glover drew inspiration from a favorite restaurant of her husband’s in New Orleans, Café Du Monde, Glover said. Café Du Monde is a coffee shop in New Orleans that primarily offers coffee and beignets.

“I wanted to emulate that and kind of pay homage to that classic combination,” Glover said. “There’s nothing better than doughnuts and coffee.”

The Early Bird offers various types of fillings for the beignets, including apple butter, pumpkin and the most popular flavor, Nutella.

The flavors vary weekly, Glover said.

“I try to mix it up to keep with the season,” Glover said.

The Early Bird uses fresh ingredients and fries beignets as they are ordered, Glover said. The dough is made the night before.

A traditional beignet costs $1 while a filled beignet is $1.75.

“For what you’re getting, it’s a little cheaper than what I had originally planned,” Glover said. “But with a great filling and a great dough, it’s a really great price.”

Elizabeth Davidson, a barista at The Early Bird, said she thinks the truck brings something new to Columbus.

“I think she definitely has a major win — there is no other fresh fried beignet truck in the city,” she said.

The Early Bird also offers One Line Coffee, a local roaster located in the Short North that recently won second place for its region at the U.S. Brewers Cup. According to its website, the U.S. Brewers Cup focuses on manual coffee brewing.

“It’s just a step above everything else,” Glover said. “I’m working with them closely to produce the same amount of quality for their coffees because I want to represent their coffee well.”

Glover said she thinks offering One Line Coffee separates the Early Bird from other food trucks.

“In food trucks, you sacrifice on your drinks because you’re focusing on the food,” Glover said. “We’re focusing on both.”

The Early Bird is an extension of what is known as Four and Twenty Blackbird Bake Shop, a wholesale bakery. Glover operates her business out of the kitchen at the Indianola Church of Christ, which is why her truck is parked in front of the church. Patrons can order traditional bakery items including breads, cupcakes and muffins, Glover said. During the summer, Glover sells her baked treats at farmer’s markets around the city.

Glover’s passion for baking came after working in the production kitchen at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, where she used fresh ingredients daily.

“I just love working with fresh ingredients and making them into something sweet,” Glover said.

Glover graduated from Kendall College in Chicago with a degree in baking and pastry before opening Four and Twenty Blackbird Bake Shop in 2013.

Glover plans on keeping the food truck open throughout the winter unless it gets really cold.

“If it’s going to be below 15 degrees, then we’ll shut it down,” Glover said. “But we’ll try to be open every day.”

The Early Bird has garnered positive reviews from customers.

“Everybody who comes by is always really happy,” said barista Eleanor Brown. “It’s been really fun to interact with a lot of different people, from businessmen to college students.”

Brown, who lives down the street from where the truck is parked, said she thinks it brings purpose to the neighborhood.

“It makes it feel like a place where there are things to do and places to gather, rather than just being a place where you sleep and go away to do interesting things,” Brown said.

Glover hopes to expand The Early Bird in the future and offer other menu options, such as fruit-filled hand pies and savory pies. She is also partnering with the church to open a brick-and-mortar coffee shop in the basement of the Indianola Church of Christ in the future.

“The coffee shop will be a great expansion for the whole business,” Glover said. “That’s really what I’m excited about.”

Athan Nicolozakes, a second-year in biomedical engineering major, lives off campus and said he’s interested to try The Early Bird.

“I have yet to hear of this food truck but it sounds like a fantastic idea. Every morning I struggle to wake up for my early classes,” he said. “Having to make breakfast is an extra hassle I tend to never have time for despite the lack the desire to cook at 7 in the morning. Living off campus eliminates the option of a quick snack using blocks and spending money on expensive on campus food is never worth it. Having an inexpensive, quick and easy option off campus would be a great asset to my morning and I would definitely try it out.”

The truck is currently open weekdays 7–11 a.m. and 4–10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Elena Arida contributed to this article.

4 comments

  1. Would patronize them but they are affiliated with the church. Have to wonder how much of the price goes back to them.

  2. The church just lets them set up there, none of the proceeds go back to it.

  3. I stopped by today after reading this article and it was amazing! Really worth stopping at. You can tell they really care about what they’re making as it was carefully crafted.

  4. I’d be really happy if my friend Eleanor Brown was smiling and handing me coffee and a yummy donut! 🙂

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