'Hunny Beez' food truck all the buzz
Among the new additions to the Bite of Newberg food cart pod on First Street is a unique blend of two cultures with an emphasis on Filipino flavors. Hunny Beez joined the pod in late September, had its grand opening earlier this month and its owners hope to become a staple for hungry residents of the Chehalem Valley.
Earlier this year, Hunny Beez co-owner Andrew Wegman lost his job at Panera Bread and was looking for a new path. After it was suggested to him that he start his own business, he and his friend Honey Blossom – whose parents immigrated to the United States from the Phillipines – got together and started drumming up ideas for a menu.
"She would always love when I'd barceque and I'd always love the Filipino food at her family's house," Wegman said. "We would mix and match different stuff and her kids would taste test some of it and that's how we got the menu rolling.
"Whenever you'd go over to her house, you better be hungry, because her mom would make literal platters of food.
"It was always so delicious and with my background in cooking it seemed like a natural partnership to mix some of those dishes with stuff I had experience cooking."
Before Hunny Beez could dish out pork lumpia to the masses, it needed a truck. Their first effort didn't go as planned, as Blossom and Wegman said they were scammed out of $23,000 by someone pretending to sell them a truck – losing half of their initial investment.
Wegman has since sought help from the FBI in recovering the money, but he and Blossom pressed forward with their business plan with the help of a family investor. They ended up with an old fixer-upper of a truck that had needed plenty of upgrades and was adorned with stickers from the 1980s from the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.
The decades-long journey of the truck from Las Vegas to a variety of businesses in Portland is an interesting one, but Wegman said he and Blossom were just glad to get their business off the ground.
After looking around for places to park the truck on a regular basis, they ended up in Newberg on a six-month contract.
The restaurant's name was inspired by Blossom's first name along with the frequent usage of bee names and mascots at fast casual restaurants in the Phillipines. Among those restaurants is the mega hit Jollibee, which has gained international notoriety.
On the menu for Hunny Beez are relatively traditional entrees with pork or chicken, rice, Filipino noodles and veggie lumpia, along with signature dishes like the Bee Hive Fries – French fries topped with a decadent balance of sweet and spicy flavors.
Four juicy burgers with a range of Filipino influences also appear on the menu, among other items that put a spin on the culture's recipes.
Prices range from $8 to $14 for entrees and burgers and the portions are as hearty as the ingredients.
Wegman said he and Blossom hope the next six months in Newberg are a success, so they can stick around and expand their business to a few more trucks serving varied blends of Filipino cooking.
"I've done this for a while and I don't think small," Wegman said. "(Blossom) wants her own pod one day, too. We would love to have multiple trucks spread around."
Hunny Beez is located at the food cart pod at 910 E. First St. The truck is typically open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and is closed on Mondays. To place a phone order, call 971-404-6845.
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