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Electric Cadillac is on the move.
A few months ago, it was fixed in place on Beechtree Street in Grand Haven.
Now, it has spread to Holland, and starting this summer, their food truck will be at the Grand Haven State Park beach every day.
As it turns out, sandwiches this good can’t stay in one place.
“Most on my crew are culinary school grads, so we know what we're doing when it comes to making good food,” said co-owner Nicholas Mika. “People know quality when they see it, you know?”
According to Mika, their placement along the Lakeshore is no coincidence. When he and Matt Varley first opened up shop in September, they did so in hopes of bringing a new kind of sandwich shop to the area.
“I started Electric Cadillac to provide a better sandwich for the Lakeshore,” he said.
So what makes a better sandwich? At Electric Cadillac, sandwiches are made fromBoar’s Head meats and cheeses, local and organic vegetables, and fresh bread from Spring Lake’s The Village Baker. What’s more, the staff at Electric Cadillac makes their own hummus, sauces, and guacamole in-house.
“We're a small company which allows us to make everything from scratch at the shops,” said Mika.
In both locations in Grand Haven and Holland, the Lakeshore atmosphere is an important part of their business.
“There's something about being seaside that seems to make everyone happier,” said Mika.
And being “seaside” just took on a whole new meaning for the Electric Cadillac crew: starting this summer, they will be making their sandwiches and smoothies for patrons right on the beach. The State of Michigan is launching a pilot program for food vendors, with Grand Haven State Park as its first beach trying out the new system. Electric Cadillac is one of only two food truck vendors chosen to operate at the park.
“It’s the first program in the state to allow established brands to run a food truck on the beach instead of offering concession stands,” said Mika. “That means healthier and more affordable options for beachgoers. I think it'll be really successful.”
The food truck business is nothing new for Mika and Varley, whose past culinary entrepreneurship includes Righteous Cuisine, a popular Mexican food truck operated out of Muskegon. The Electric Cadillac truck won’t be hard to find—just look for the retrofitted school bus amid the sand dunes and beach umbrellas.
“We thought that'd be something fun and different,” said Mika.
“Fun” and “different” seem to be Electric Cadillac’s main descriptors. They are known for using a blow torch to melt the cheese on their sandwiches, and with menu items ranging from “Not Your Grandma’s Reuben” to “Get That Meatball Sub Dude,” the folks at Electric Cadillac clearly like to have a little fun with their food. But one thing they don’t mess around with is their high-quality products.
“Unprocessed foods always taste better,” said Mika. “Making a great sandwich is simply making every ingredient that goes into that sandwich superb on its own. That requires a ton of behind-the-scenes effort that large chains aren't willing to implement.”
For Mika, being a good local business means taking the opportunity to make a superior product.
“I advocate supporting local shops that do it better than their corporate alternatives,” he said.
Every aspect of Electric Cadillac is geared toward that goal: their ingredients, staff, and customer service combine to make an excellent dining experience you won’t find anywhere else.
If finding a great sandwich on the Lakeshore is not reason enough to visit, there is an added benefit of stopping by during the month of June: the first annual Local Treasure Hunt. When you visit a participating business, all you have to do is send a text to Local First with that location’s code. Each time you visit one of these shops, you are entered into a drawing for prizes from the individual businesses and a grand prize as well.
Electric Cadillac is one of ten lakeshore businesses joining in this treasure hunt. Other places include Bowerman Blueberries Farm Market, Second Floor Bakery, Toys Are Used, and Velo City Cycles, among others. This treasure hunt will help community members rediscover established businesses that have been around for years and to find some new favorites as well, such as Electric Cadillac.
Check out localtreasure.org to see who else is participating and to download your treasure hunt guide. For more information about Electric Cadillac, visit their website atelectriccadillacdeli.com.
Originally published in May-June 2014 Urban St. Shore West.