Chef Justin Schoville and Lindsay Zubay are cooking up a new experiment in the basement of their Rochester restaurant, Porch Fried Chicken.
Starting at noon Tuesday, they are trying out a new concept called Boxcar Hippie with “a ghost kitchen.” That means takeout and delivery only, no dine-in option.
“We have an idea. We want to see if it works. We have the space. We have the product. We have the brand. We have the desire. We have the passion to do it,” he said. “We want to see how it works in that space. We are doing it with the ghost kitchen, because right now it is unwise to build a dining room.”
Boxcar Hippie will serve up seven flavors of East L.A.-style burritos – three meat choices and four plant-based options. The meats include chorizo pork sausage from Hidden Stream Farm in Elgin.
“We’re rolling out a small, condensed menu to focus on the quality of the product and make sure we can keep up with demand,” explained Schoville. “The idea is to make chill, hip, fun burritos focused on quality.”
The hope is to have Boxcar Hippie match the new vibe upstairs in the rebranded Porch Fried Chicken at 20 Fourth St. SE. In 2020, Schoville and Zubay revamped Porch to make it more accessible with more of a focus on its signature fried chicken and more sandwiches with a counter service format.
When Porch originally opened in 2016, it was followed by the launch of the Cellar in the small basement area. It served cocktails and small plates. Later, they moved in a vegetarian spin-off of their popular Hot Chip gourmet burger bar into the space.
Schoville said the Hot Chip Vegan Burger Bar quickly grew in popularity, but then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. It made sense to merge the vegan burger concept in with the original Hot Chip at 1190 16th St SW.
That left the basement open, and they started brainstorming concepts to pair with the new version of Porch. Combining the colors of the '70s and '80s with the style of Atari and the vibe of Cheech & Chong, they created Hippie Boxcar to pair with the burrito menu.
For the next two months, Hippie Boxcar will have a test run. If it goes well and the pandemic doesn’t prevent it, the plan is to open the small spot for dining.