Mighty Bowl puts down roots in restaurant location

It’s getting a brick-and-mortar location in downtown Vancouver and keeping its food trucks

By Brooks Johnson, Columbian Business Reporter

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The Mighty Bowl has found a permanent parking spot.

The Vancouver food truck last week moved into a kitchen downtown that will soon feature a walk-up window and eventually expand into a full restaurant.

“For four years we’ve been a nomadic company,” owner Steve Valenta said Thursday. “It’s all about answering the question of how we’re going to grow.”

With two food trucks — which will remain open at Clark College and at various spots downtown — Valenta decided to try a brick-and-mortar location at 108 W. Eighth St.

“Now that we’re a bigger company, I’m thinking about what’s sustainable,” he said.

Mighty Bowl first started slinging specialty rice-and-bean bowls in 2012 and has since grown to 11 employees. Valenta stressed that the decision to put down roots has a lot to do with taking care of his staff.

“I love serving good food and taking care of customers — but it’s keeping my staff happy that makes me happiest,” he said.

The kitchen at the former Palace Restaurant on Eighth Street was all bright white and stainless steel Thursday, as a Mighty Bowl banner hung on a temporary wall. Employees were packing up the downtown food truck to park at its Thursday location on Esther Street outside City Hall, and they were thrilled with the new digs.

In addition to storage and prep space, a walk-in cooler and commercial dishwasher, the kitchen gives more space to move around in than both of Mighty Bowl’s food trucks combined.

The walk-up window could be open in a month, Valenta said, but he needs a few more employees first.

“We’d open it now, but we don’t have the staff,” he said.”

The window will be on the other side of the kitchen’s temporary wall where customers will one day be sitting down to Mighty Bowl’s expanded menu, perhaps by the end of the year, Valenta said. Getting that space ready will include a makeover of the currently nondescript storefront and a re-imagining of the former restaurant and adjoining bar.

The goal is to find what works best for Mighty Bowl and its fans, Valenta said.