LUNCH: A Fresh Food Experience in the Capital

When you are in a rush to grab a bite between meetings, it’s nice to be able to buy something on the go. The problem: not many places in Ottawa that serve food quickly also serve it healthy. Luckily, the new LUNCH truck on Albert at Kent can offer Ottawans a healthy and affordable alternative.

The LUNCH truck is the latest development for owner and operator Tim Van Dyke, who also runs four other brick-and-mortar LUNCH locations in Ottawa: on Bank, Metcalfe, Sparks and Lebreton, as well as a future location opening in Gatineau in early 2014. As I sat down with the Ottawa native, enthusiasm and commitment simply oozed out of him. And, it is this very spirit that enabled LUNCH to grow from one location to five (almost six) in 5½ years.

LUNCH was born from a genuine passion for good quality food without compromising on taste. No use looking for poutine or hotdogs at the Lunch Truck; instead, only fresh and local ingredients grace this recycled-paper menu, which includes salads, sandwiches, wraps, soups and chili. While their best-seller is said to be the Tarragon Chicken sandwich (which is very good), I prefer the Chicken Club sandwich (the double smoked bacon and aged cheddar have me hooked), or the Jerk Tofu sandwich (the tofu is marinated overnight and served with a pineapple salsa and arugula).

“It’s lunch time!”
“Only fresh and local ingredients grace the menu at LUNCH.”

But what is Tim’s favorite? “I love the shrimp salad roll, mostly because of the dipping sauce! I eat from the LUNCH menu every day. I never get bored with it. And that is important.” All food is prepared the same day and is then delivered to the truck and served in recycled packaging by staff members who extend the friendly and familiar atmosphere that Tim and his team have worked so hard to create.

The entire business is built on the premise of integrity and a sense of community. Van Dyke has nurtured relationships with all those involved in making his business a success: from the local farm that provides the chicken, to those who serve the customers, and the artists who designed, built and hand-painted the LUNCH truck.

Van Dyke’s commitment to uphold a business of integrity is greater than his need for a healthy bottom line: “Slow and steady wins the race.” He has fun with LUNCH and insists on serving noon-time meals himself at one of his locations every day. So why move towards the truck format? It all comes down to economics. The cost of the truck is much less than an actual building, but the food served from it is exactly the same: “What I am trying to do is create the best product I can market. People can smell greed.”

“It’s lunch time!”
“It’s lunch time!”

The added advantage to the truck is its mobility, which plays into Tim’s penchant for community events. LUNCH has been involved in charity functions, such as this year’s Dragon Boat Festival and the Roller Derby put on at Ottawa City Hall by the Capital City Derby Dolls and Kathy Ferguson of Ottawa Street Eats. A few years ago, LUNCH was at Bluesfest: “We completely sold out of the pulled pork and the quinoa,” demonstrating the reach that LUNCH has with its customers, satisfying meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. This year, LUNCH will participate in the Scotiabank Aids Walk, the Porsche GT3 Canada Cup in Calabogie and the Ottawa Food Truck Rally – so keep your eyes open for the truck!

As for regular business, the truck will remain open this fall serving up a full coffee, soup and chili service, closing only from December to March – depending on weather, of course!