Rainier BBQ, the Vietnamese restaurant best known for serving snake, alligator and deer, is toying with the idea of launching a food truck.
"Food trucks are huge in the Bay Area, and I think we can use more of them here," says Franklin Chau, who recently relocated from San Jose to help his parents, Andy and Minh Chau, run the business. "We'll explore that option when we get there."
While there aren't any immediate plans to put wheels on the restaurant which earlier this year welcomed Anthony Bourdain for supper, Chau has already begun upgrading the deli which occupies a small outbuilding alongside the sit-down restaurant. When the Chaus in 2002 purchased the property on MLK Jr. Way, hoping to take advantage of its proximity to the Othello light rail station, they used the building as a kitchen. Two years later, they repurposed it as a take-out counter, but "most familiar with the restaurant generally went to the restaurant to order," Chau says.
But Chau believes a stand-alone Chinese barbecue and sandwich shop could succeed in a neighborhood with "tons of Vietnamese businesses."
"It's been pretty bare bones, but we're looking to provide more selection and build up the deli side," he says.
The deli recently issued a new party tray menu from which customers can assemble feasts of stir-fried cold noodles; papaya salad with beef jerky; salt-and-pepper prawns and other festive favorites. "It's more cost effective to purchase party trays of food from the barbecue than it is to purchase large orders from the restaurant," Chau points out, citing the chicken wings and grilled pork priced by the pound.
"I'd like to take advantage of the fact that we have a Chinese barbecue in-house so we can create sandwiches or other food options that nobody else can at a good price point," he adds. "Right now we make a barbecue pork sandwich with crunchy skin that I don't think many others have."