The black food truck on Vancouver’s upper Main Street with the pirate holding a sandwich logo may appear abandoned. Owner Sean Tolman shut Yoobies Eats down for December and January due to illness. He’s recovered and returned to playing loud music inside his food truck while making generously portioned sandwiches bathed in sauces varying from classic French to chipotle ranch.
Tolman opened his Uptown food truck to share his take on classic sandwiches like pulled pork, meatball sub, Philly cheesesteak and Reuben. Yoobies Eats (2425 Main St.) is open noon to 6 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, noon to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays — loosely. Tolman will keep making sandwiches if customers show up.
“If the light’s on and the window’s open, I’m open,” he said.
He plans on extending hours as the weather grows warmer.
Tolman discovered his love for cooking at an early age. When he was growing up in the small town of Price, Utah, his mother would bring the TV into the kitchen for him so he could cook with Julia Child. At the age of 17, Tolman moved to Salt Lake City and learned classical French cooking by apprenticing for chefs from Austria and Switzerland.
He landed in Vancouver after serving as executive chef at The Aspen Grove in Astoria, Ore. When that restaurant permanently closed due to the pandemic, his friend Kurt Van Orden asked him to come work at his Uptown Village speakeasy, UnderBar. Yoobies Eats is the food truck that sat behind UnderBar.
At UnderBar, the food truck was called U B. Tolman decided to use those initials to create a fictional character called Yoobie — a pirate and punk rock chef who resembles Tolman with his long beard and bandana.
At first glance, the menu seems straightforward — a list of classic sandwiches, $11 each. But as you work your way through their messy beauty, it’s clear that these are not typical. They’ve been Yoobie-ized.
“Food is art on so many palettes — on the nose, the tongue, the eyes. And then it’s gone, and you create it again,” Tolman said.
His favorite sandwich is always the newest one. For now, that’s the Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Tolman’s take on a chicken bacon ranch sandwich. The name comes from a punk rock supergroup and cover band that formed in ’90s San Francisco known for unique, high-energy interpretations of decidedly unpunk rock music, like John Denver songs and show tunes.
“I looked around Vancouver, and chicken bacon ranch is everywhere,” Tolman said. “I do a punk revision with bacon, mushroom, chicken, chipotle ranch, fresh tomatoes and pepper jack cheese. And since I’m making it, it becomes punk rock.”
Lots of sauce, an abundance of toppings and mushrooms in places you don’t expect characterize the sandwiches at Yoobies Eats. They require your full attention, as well as utensils and a stack of napkins.
“My sandwiches are juicy. I always give you a fork and napkins,” Tolman said.
Mushrooms appear in his Philly sandwich. Tolman and I agreed that we don’t remember mushrooms in the Philly cheesesteaks we’ve eaten on East Passyunk Avenue in Philadelphia, the area known for a rivalry between Philly cheesesteak kings Pat’s and Geno’s.
However, a customer and Philly native recommended that Tolman put mushrooms in the sandwich, and it works. The tender mushrooms soak up the sauce and add an extra layer to the meat and cheese.
Although his cooking style and musical taste may be punk rock, Tolman’s style of service is old school. He cares about his customers. He wants to offer a gluten-free option but hasn’t been able to find the right gluten-free bread for his juicy sandwiches, so any sandwich can be served over fries instead of on bread. Tolman added half sandwiches ($7.50 with chips) to the menu because customers told him they can’t eat a whole Yoobies Eats sandwich in the middle of the day when they have to work.
The menu really is just a suggestion. Tolman will make customers any combination of things they like with the ingredients he has in the cart. He’ll make a chicken Philly or run to the store to get mustard for a customer who wants it on a Reuben sandwich.
He’s not going to judge. Tolman just wants to make good food at a fair price and feed the people.