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Local food truck gets creative fighting rising costs

Stellar Street Eats food truck
Stellar Street Eats burger
Posted at 9:22 AM, Dec 02, 2021

CINCINNATI — Just about everyone is feeling the pain of inflation, whether you realize it or not.

Restaurants are no exception. Ryan O’Neil, owner of Stellar Street Eats, explains to us that he’s doing everything he can to keep his costs down.

"2020 was probably the most stressful year we've had,” O’Neil says.

O’Neil and his wife, Ashlee Rose, have owned the Stellar Street Eats food truck for about four years now. O’Neil says his wife is the creative one in the kitchen. The food truck focuses on gourmet sandwiches, wraps and burgers. Everything is made from scratch and they’re best known for Ashlee’s homemade pimento cheese.

But surviving the shutdowns during the pandemic was crushing.

“Anxiety is severely high. You didn't know what the next day was going to bring, ever,” O’Neil says.

As with most restaurants that survived 2020, customers have returned.

But the supply chain issues are still alive and well.

"You go to Restaurant Depot or sometimes even Kroger and we had to take menu items off just because we couldn't find it,” O’Neil said. “In 2021, the product came back for the most part, more consistent, but then you've got the rising cost.”

Local chefs and business owners continue to tell WCPO that inflation is plaguing area restaurants. Food prices are double and triple what they were in 2019.

"Unfortunately, we've even had to raise our prices twice over the last two years to help compensate. We're trying to keep them as low as possible, but we still have a family to feed, too,” O’Neil says.

O’Neil is doubling down on his business by opening a brick-and-mortar shop along Salem Road in Anderson. He explains that it will give the business a home base, a place to prep food and is a great grab-and-go option for those in Anderson.

He says construction has been a slow process because of the supply chain shortages and he’s trying to save money on the project.

"Our architect, Tom Molloy, he did little things like we didn't go with wood studs because wood's so expensive. We have metal studs,” O’Neil said.

But there’s not necessarily a rush to get the new space remodeled, because O’Neil is having trouble getting the kitchen equipment he needs to outfit it.

"I couldn't get a full order on all the kitchen equipment I needed, so I literally had to go to every restaurant supply store in Greater Cincinnati and piece together what I needed,” he said.

The new location is under construction and it could be some time before they’re up and running inside. Until then, you can catch a bite to eat at the Stellar Street Eats food truck parked right out front.

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