At the Liberty Lake Portal, known for its cluster of high tech companies, the mouth-watering aroma of garlic permeates the east end of the parking lot.
The White House Grill Garlic Mobile opened in May, serving a smaller selection of the same menu made at the White House Grill restaurant in Post Falls under the slogan, “You love garlic, we love you!”
The food truck, open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., is already drawing a regular crowd of customers from the neighboring businesses.
“Between 12 and 2 we’re pretty slammed. Dinner time is slower,” said cook Dallas Hoialman, who transferred from the Post Falls restaurant with cook Alex Moes to keep the food truck’s cuisine and customer service consistent with the brand built by owner Raci Erdem, 44.
“The No. 1 thing: It’s not another hot dog stand. It’s small but the same quality as the White House,” said Erdem, noting he’s built a base of loyal customers on the restaurant’s distinct flavor and flair.
“We never try to be like someone else. It’s going to be garlic. If you like garlic, you’ll like it and be raving,” Erdem said.
After opening the White House Grill in Post Falls in 1996, Erdem later expanded the restaurant and opened the Oval Office, also in Post Falls, to serve milder fare. He also opened the West Wing on Spokane’s South Hill and previously operated the Garlic Mobile on the North Side, but said those locations were too far away.
“I have to have my hands on everything. I couldn’t give 110 percent there and 110 percent here. All I did was driving,” he said. “Liberty Lake is a good business city and close, to keep the quality.”
With a lease for the season at the Liberty Lake Portal, Erdem said the Garlic Mobile will be successful if they renew next spring. Other than weekend catering and events like Pig Out in the Park, he hopes to keep the food truck indefinitely in Liberty Lake, though it will close between mid-November and March.
Though the mobile’s menu is less expensive than the sit-down restaurant, Erdem said that along with affordable lunch options such as gyros or Greek salad, it also serves more expensive favorites like the Mixed Grill, which features grilled Chilean sea bass, tiger prawns and curry chicken over house rice with a side of garlic green beans.
“If we take the Mixed Grill out, people go crazy,” said Erdem with a laugh. “It’s not fast food. It’s restaurant quality in a little truck.”
Still, the truck promises service at a fast food pace. Moes estimated the longest wait time is about 10 minutes with an average of five.
Customers are also welcome to call in orders in advance, whether picking up lunch to take back to the office or dinner on the way home from work.
“No matter what, they’ll leave with a smile and a full stomach,” promised Hoialman.