This is Nominee Spotlights, a series in which the Best of Western Washington chats with local business owners to get the inside scoop on everything good.
When Cecilia Rikard and Mark McConnell opened Off the Rez, they were looking to fill a unique niche in the Seattle Dining scene: Native American cuisine. The truck opened in February and features the Native American cuisine — think fry breads and Indian tacos — of Mark's childhood. Mark tapped longtime friend, Donovan MacInnis (previously sous chef at Portalis), to serve as Executive Chef. Together the team has made their mark on the Seattle dining scene. The Best of Western Washington spoke with Cecilia to get the scoop on what keeps them driving.
What was your inspiration to start a food truck? Mark's mother, Olive, grew up on the Blackfeet reservation in Montana so Mark grew up eating frybread and Indian Tacos at family gatherings. Mark frequently craved frybread but could never find it offered in Seattle except at the occasional powwow or Native gathering. Finally, he decided to fill the void by starting Off the Rez.
What's your favorite way to keep in touch with customers? In person! We love to see our customers' smiling faces at the truck. We have our regulars who come every week or even follow us around the city as we go from place to place. And it's always great to meet new frybread converts! If we can't chat in person, we always post our updates to Facebook and Twitter.
Who at your staff makes everything run smoothly? Every single member of our staff is integral to keeping our truck running smoothly! We are a very small operation so we all wear many hats and work together performing multiple roles. It's all in the family too -- we've got Donovan's brother Kelly manning the grill and Mark's younger sister Olivia cashiering when she's not in school at Western. We even have the benefit of rotating-in parents, cousins and other family when we have big events. Everyone pitches in where ever help is needed and that makes it possible for us to provide quality food and service.
What's the most popular dish right now? Our BBQ pulled pork Indian taco is our most requested item. Coming in at a close second is our Powwow slider. Since we're known for our frybread, the slider is kind of a surprise but it is quickly developing a cult following! Plus you have the option of still getting a taste of our frybread with the slider because it can be ordered on frybread. Yeah, that's right -- Burger. On. Frybread. Yum.
What do you order? My favorite is the lemon curd sweet frybread. Mark loves the BBQ pulled pork.
When you're not eating your own stuff, where will we find you? We're always working so often when we get the chance, we're at our home! We love to cook and I bake too. If we're not eating at home, we're on the search for the best sandwiches, American comfort food, Korean BBQ, noodles, and anything new and interesting to try.
Published in: interviews