CINCINNATI -- Elias Leisring is well-known for his wildly successful barbecue restaurant Eli’s BBQ; what's less known about Leisring is that he's also a matchmaker of sorts.
Because of his strong track record in business, Leisring is often approached by business opportunities, which he gladly shares with hard-working food entrepreneurs. He brings his operational know-how and infrastructure to partnerships, allowing the new entrepreneurs to better focus on their products.
Following successful partnerships such as Fireside Pizza and Saundra’s Kitchen, he has scored success again with his latest venture, Queen City Whip, a food truck that’s permanently parked at Over-the-Rhine bar Queen City Radio.
‘We settled on crafting a food truck’
Queen City Radio serves beer, boozy slushies, wine and cocktails. According to Leisring, when Chris and Louisa Reckman, and Louisa’s brother, Gabriel Deutsch, were planning to open the bar, they contacted him.
“They’re friends of ours,” Leisring said. “They reached out to me on how to put food in the bar; they were not putting a kitchen in here. We ultimately settled on crafting a food truck.”
While Leisring does not have a business interest in the bar, he has partnered with Ian Sobeck, former chef and baker at O Pie O, in the food truck business.
“I met Elias through O Pie O; he's friends with the owners,” said Sobeck.
Before launching the food truck, Sobeck managed the kitchen and did some menu development at Saundra’s Kitchen. He is now co-owner, chef and operator of Queen City Whip.
“[Leisring] was looking for some people to help,” Sobeck said, referring to the food truck concept. “I’ve never done this before, but I was excited to start a business.”
Menu serves diner classics
The food truck offers a short and straightforward menu of two kinds of burgers -- the whip classic and falafel burger (vegetarian) -- a chili dog, fries and shakes (vanilla or chocolate). All items are under $7.
According to Leisring, Queen City Whip is a throwback to the era of small diners, creamy whip dairy bars and the golden age of Route 66.
“We want to be able to execute something at a lower price point but have it be really good,” he said. “It’s just fun shake-shop kind of food.”
Leisring said they make everything from scratch.
“We make chili from scratch for the chili dogs,” he said. “The burger meat is ground daily by Mackie Quality Meats in Findlay Market.”
Queen City Whip uses a proprietary blend of ground chuck, brisket, sirloin and fat, which is then ground to a particular texture.
“We do two 2.5-ounce patties that end up being a quarter-pound burger after it’s cooked,” Leisring said. They also make their own tzatziki sauce and falafel patty for the vegetarian burger.
The culinary discernment extends to the little details, such as hand-shredding cheddar cheese from a block and paying attention to the texture of the lettuce.
“We shred the lettuce for the burgers really fine, and the onions are diced really small,” Leisring said. He maintains the texture makes a difference: “The (finely) shredded lettuce creates space and gives crunch on the bite.”
Sobeck expects to continue operating the food truck through winter with the use of heaters and possibly a canopy connected to the main structure.
“We’ll reposition the food truck closer to the (Queen City Radio) structure and get as close as we can to those doors,” he said.
Queen City Whip started serving food on Sept. 16, the same day Queen City Radio opened. Since that time, the food truck has amassed a sizable fan base.
“People have already reached out to us to book the truck for different events, but we’re like, ‘No, we’re committed to being here,'" Leisring said.
Queen City Whip Food Truck
Where: 222 W. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine. (parked at Queen City Radio)
Hours: 4 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Monday-Friday; 11 a.m.-2:30 a.m. Saturday-Sunday
Information: www.queencitywhip.com; www.facebook.com/queencitywhip
Grace Yek writes about food for WCPO Digital. She is a certified chef-de-cuisine with the American Culinary Federation, and a former chemical engineer. Questions or comments? Connect with her on Twitter: @Grace_Yek.