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Food truck chef is on a roll at a rock venue
Umami Moto owner settles down in midtown
This story is part of a special series.

Vivian Goodman
Sandy Madachik is co-owner of The HIPP with her partner Jae Stulock
Courtesy of Vivian Goodman
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In The Region:

Last week on Quick Bites, we visited with Cleveland food-truck pioneer Chris Hodgson at his new bricks and mortar restaurant, Hodges Downtown. Today we visit another rolling restaurateur who has put down roots.


Chow that rocks

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Jae Stulock’s  new restaurant is next door to the Agora , the historic rock venue in midtown Cleveland. He’s still running Umami Moto, his food truck business, too.

“We started the food truck in November of 2010 so it had been about a year and a half before we started looking for a kitchen space because the food truck had grown so much that we couldn’t handle the volume of food that we were doing on the truck because we were literally cooking on the truck.  And we discovered that we were going to have a hard time finding a kitchen without a dining room. That’s when we started looking at can we pull off a restaurant concept, too.”

Did they bite off too much? Apparently no

For a while he and his partner Sandi Madachik worried whether they had the right concept:

 “We were also concerned that we were biting off more than we could chew.”

Stulak’s  famous for  a colossal eggplant sandwich almost too big to get your mouth around, especially if you want the grilled peppers, onion and lettuce and tomato on top:

 “ I use Chinese eggplant and slice them really thinly so when you get your eggplant sandwich it’s a nice crispy eggplant instead of a thick slice of eggplant that’s a little bit soggy and mushy. We use a sun-dried tomato aioli sauce that we make in-house. “

Ethnic with flair 

He makes his own sauerkraut in-house, too, and his own seasoning for French fries. Stulock is a native Clevelander who fell in love with cooking in his Hungarian grandmother’s kitchen. Quirky combinations of Asian and Eastern European flavors are popular with his food truck, patrons, who’ll see stuffed peppers and some other familiar menu items at the HIPP.

“ We’ve done the fish tacos, we’ve done the Umami burger and we have an extensive burger menu. It’s a build-your-own burger so you can throw anything you want on that thing. The menu is going to focus on like international flavors. Just things that people tend to eat now. It’s very modern American kind of fare. It takes a little bit from all these different cultures that have come to be known as Americans."

Bringing back a part of Cleveland history

The HIPP opened unofficially in October but only for shows at the Agora.

 “And then officially we opened the restaurant with the HIPP branding on February 14th.  There was a very large theater in Cleveland called the Hippodrome Theater at 720 Euclid Avenue. In 1978 it was demolished, and the building next door that is currently called the Agora was named the new Hippodrome for a period of time. They did movies and things there. In ’82 it was purchased again and renamed the Agora Theater  so that Hippodrome name was kind of lost to Cleveland that was such a part of Cleveland up until ’78 so we decided to bring back a little Cleveland nostalgia with the name.” 

The Agora’s place in rock and roll history was another draw for the mobile chef when he considered where to park his talents:

 “Since we moved in here we’ve discovered that everybody in Cleveland has some kind of connection to the Agora. I’ve been to several shows here in my youth so I have a personal interest in it. And I’m really excited to see the re-birth of it.”

Long-time owner Hank LoConti recently donated the Agora building to Midtown corridor and a spruce-up is already underway.

The HIPP is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday. There’s  a full bar and free parking in the Agora’s lot on Prospect.

Related Links & Resources
the HIPP on Facebook

Related WKSU Stories

Food truck frenzy fueled by Facebook
Saturday, August 13, 2011

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