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Trying to find a niche at the farmers' market

Or, what happens when capitalism gives you the munchies

Grilled cheese is everybody's favorite, at some point in their lives.
Grilled cheese is everybody's favorite, at some point in their lives.

A certain La Jolla resident/presidential candidate made the wrong kind of headlines a couple years ago when he suggested not enough Americans have the entrepreneurial spirit required to borrow twenty grand from their parents to start a business. Now, I don't say so to trudge on anybody — rather to point out how much said spirit it takes to succeed in post-recession America for people without a blank check stapled to their birth certificate.

Even south of Nautilus, $20K isn't considered enough seed money to start a proper restaurant, but over the past several years young upstart chefs have found cheaper means of getting their businesses up and running — namely, food trucks. But even food carts can be cost prohibitive when you haven't the means to borrow the means to get started in an industry considered one of the world's riskiest investments.

Everything they need to know about running a small business came from a lemonade stand.

Probably the cheapest way to establish a food service brand may be found at your weekly farmer's market. For 35 bucks anyone with a shade structure, folding table and portable griddle gets a built-in clientele of foodies who've just gotten their salivary glands worked up sampling strawberries and filling their produce bags with kale. If not a recipe for success, it's at least a recipe for opportunity.

I found one of the lowest-cost businesses I've ever seen at the Saturday farmer's market in Golden Hill. Searching for something cheap and filling, I came across sign literally drawn in marker on strung-together paper plates: Mad Munch.

Mad Munch offers a singular specialty: grilled cheese sandwiches, which they inexplicably refer to as "Cheezers."

These cheezers build on the grilled cheese premise by coming up with wacky names and hearty toppings. So you get the breakfast Cock-a-Doodle-Dude which features eggs and bacon, or the Bat Out of Hell, topped by mashed potatoes and — have you guessed it yet? — meatloaf.

Yes, it's probably the sort of idea that springs up when a bunch of Obecians sitting on their couches around 4:30 start to think about what they're going to eat while deciding what to eat for dinner. And when it happens to be Wednesday, you'll also find them making cheezers at the OB farmer's market.

Now, nobody's handing out Michelin stars for farmer's market booths, and this isn't one of those stories where the diamond-in-the-rough foodstuff is going to change your life. It might alter the course of your afternoon, depending how your stomach responds to dairy. These are basically grilled cheeses with bells and whistles, and if anything the "Mad Munchers'" greatest innovation is the offer to slice your cheezer into dippable slices when you order a side of tomato soup.

I opted for the Bat Out of hell, if only to see how well mashed potatoes succeeded in sandwich format. Honestly, it just tasted like filler, and reminded me I haven't made it to the gym in far too long.

But I have to admire the effort and the intent. Mitt might never hold up this sort of outfit as a relatable role model for young people looking to make their mark in an increasingly tough marketplace, but I, for one, would love to see the man turn up one day to find out what being a go-getter in America means for those born with plastic spoons in their mouths.

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Grilled cheese is everybody's favorite, at some point in their lives.
Grilled cheese is everybody's favorite, at some point in their lives.

A certain La Jolla resident/presidential candidate made the wrong kind of headlines a couple years ago when he suggested not enough Americans have the entrepreneurial spirit required to borrow twenty grand from their parents to start a business. Now, I don't say so to trudge on anybody — rather to point out how much said spirit it takes to succeed in post-recession America for people without a blank check stapled to their birth certificate.

Even south of Nautilus, $20K isn't considered enough seed money to start a proper restaurant, but over the past several years young upstart chefs have found cheaper means of getting their businesses up and running — namely, food trucks. But even food carts can be cost prohibitive when you haven't the means to borrow the means to get started in an industry considered one of the world's riskiest investments.

Everything they need to know about running a small business came from a lemonade stand.

Probably the cheapest way to establish a food service brand may be found at your weekly farmer's market. For 35 bucks anyone with a shade structure, folding table and portable griddle gets a built-in clientele of foodies who've just gotten their salivary glands worked up sampling strawberries and filling their produce bags with kale. If not a recipe for success, it's at least a recipe for opportunity.

I found one of the lowest-cost businesses I've ever seen at the Saturday farmer's market in Golden Hill. Searching for something cheap and filling, I came across sign literally drawn in marker on strung-together paper plates: Mad Munch.

Mad Munch offers a singular specialty: grilled cheese sandwiches, which they inexplicably refer to as "Cheezers."

These cheezers build on the grilled cheese premise by coming up with wacky names and hearty toppings. So you get the breakfast Cock-a-Doodle-Dude which features eggs and bacon, or the Bat Out of Hell, topped by mashed potatoes and — have you guessed it yet? — meatloaf.

Yes, it's probably the sort of idea that springs up when a bunch of Obecians sitting on their couches around 4:30 start to think about what they're going to eat while deciding what to eat for dinner. And when it happens to be Wednesday, you'll also find them making cheezers at the OB farmer's market.

Now, nobody's handing out Michelin stars for farmer's market booths, and this isn't one of those stories where the diamond-in-the-rough foodstuff is going to change your life. It might alter the course of your afternoon, depending how your stomach responds to dairy. These are basically grilled cheeses with bells and whistles, and if anything the "Mad Munchers'" greatest innovation is the offer to slice your cheezer into dippable slices when you order a side of tomato soup.

I opted for the Bat Out of hell, if only to see how well mashed potatoes succeeded in sandwich format. Honestly, it just tasted like filler, and reminded me I haven't made it to the gym in far too long.

But I have to admire the effort and the intent. Mitt might never hold up this sort of outfit as a relatable role model for young people looking to make their mark in an increasingly tough marketplace, but I, for one, would love to see the man turn up one day to find out what being a go-getter in America means for those born with plastic spoons in their mouths.

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Comments
1

Their Tater Kater is my fave sammie. Hash browns, sour cream and bacon on grilled sourdough.....mmmmmm.

Feb. 4, 2014

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