For five years, The Mighty Bowl has been a hero of the local food scene, doling out rice-and-bean bowls from a food truck and, later, a downtown walk-up window. But you might say it always had a kryptonite — seating.
Well, not anymore. On Tuesday, The Mighty Bowl got mightier when it officially opened a 3,000-square-foot restaurant at 108 W. Eighth St. in Vancouver. Crowds there found an expanded menu and seats at tables, bar stools and even on bleachers.
The new location is open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and seats 44. Owner Steve Valenta said there are plans to add dinner and weekend hours by winter, contingent on the hiring of 10 more staff.
The day before the opening, Valenta seemed relieved during an interview. It took nine months to retrofit the space, formerly a Chinese food restaurant, with construction taking place in addition to normal business hours.
“Sixteen-hour days get old,” he said, laughing.
Customers seemed happy for the hard work. A line formed out the door around the lunch hour.
Three more bowls, four salads and a smoothie and juice bar mark new additions to The Mighty Bowl’s menu. Breakfast offerings include items like avocado toast and acai bowls. That’s a lot of new compared with its previous menu of one, the eponymous mighty bowl.
“There’s so much more on the menu,” said Magen Napier of Vancouver. “Now there’s meat, which anyone who isn’t a vegetarian has wanted for awhile.”
Napier was joined by Jessica Rogers, a co-worker at nearby market intelligence company DiscoverOrg. They said the restaurant helps add to the downtown vibe. Rogers, a Northeast Portland resident, said they sometimes drive into Portland to eat.
“It was really good. They really took their time with it,” Rogers said.
The restaurant is the latest incarnation for The Mighty Bowl. It first hit the streets as a food truck in 2012, often seen parked in Uptown Village or at the Vancouver Farmers Market. Growth followed with locations at Clark College and, in spring 2016, a walk-up window downtown.
There weren’t plans to add a brick-and-mortar location to begin with, Valenta said, but they seemed to outgrow the food truck. Trucks cost less and they allow food companies to find their customers, but they also have limited kitchen space. Big orders would come in that The Mighty Bowl truck couldn’t accommodate, he said.
The Mighty Bowl
Address: 108 W. Eighth St.
Hours: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Information: 360-602-2695 or themightybowl.com
Valenta said the move ultimately came down to what he felt was best for himself, his staff and the company. He couldn’t predict how it would all go, but he said the restaurant seemed more sustainable.
“If it’s just you and a couple business partners working really hard, that’s one thing, but when you have a staff of 14 and families that we’re supporting, it’s a different game,” he said. “You make decisions differently when you’re supporting families.”
The food truck will go on hiatus for a short time while The Mighty Bowl figures out its staffing needs. When it does come back, Valenta said, he hopes to send it outside of the downtown area.