Cheryl Hartell has worked as a professional chef on and off for most of her life. This summer, she took over as chef and manager of Pita for Good, a Mediterranean food truck in Kansas City, after owner Mark VanBlaricum and his family relocated to California.

Looking for ways to promote Pita for Good while getting her whole neighborhood involved, Hartell held the first 17th Street “Nooner” Block Party in the Westside this past Wednesday in conjunction with her retail and restaurant neighbors.

“I park this truck in my garage in the commercial building that I own here on 17th and Madison, and since the truck landed here in the Westside at the end of June, the neighborhood has witnessed me taking it apart to clean and familiarize myself with it with its equipment,” explains Hartell. “I had lots of people asking me when it was going to open, and that sparked this idea to feed the neighborhood and bring new folks by to see our great little piece of the city.”

The 17th Street “Nooner” Block Party is anchored by Pita for Good, which is parked at 820 W. 17th Street selling food, and also includes offerings from other surrounding local businesses. Blue Bird Bistro owner Jane Zieha suggested the name of 17th Street Block Party, and Hartell added “nooner” to drive home the timeframe, which is from 11am to 2pm each week. “I also ended up pitching the idea to the 17th and Summit Merchant Association and had great support and response from many of the businesses who are also offering discounts and specials during the nooner,” she says.

Participating businesses include Blue Bird Bistro (cocktail specials), MADI Intimate Apparel (15 percent off any item), The Refinery Room ($10 off any product), Westside Storey (10 percent off), Mood Swings Salon (10 percent off any product) and Thrive Pilates and Movement (Pop-In Pilates from 11 to 11:30am and 11:45am-12:15pm). “My neighborhood is a great place to visit and has many other standout businesses here in the Westside,” says Hartell. “Take my neighbors across the street, Whiskey Design – they did the graphic design for the truck and the website for Pita for Good.”

With Hartell’s culinary guidance, Pita for Good serves fresh, locally sourced Mediterranean dishes. Offerings include chicken and lamb shawarma plates and pita sandwiches along with falafel and hummus plates for those looking for a vegetarian option. All plates come with a portion of hummus, pita, tzatziki, tabouli and a salad du jour. Hartell also offers daily specials like a Greek-inspired sausage made by Broadway Butcher that is stuffed with fennel, feta cheese, citrus and Ouzo liqueur. The grilled sausage is served on a soft pita from Olive Café in Kansas City with a swipe of Kalamata olive mayo, crispy onions, roasted red peppers and arugula. The menu also includes a delicious rosemary or lavender lemonade as well as pink salted milk chocolate chunk and tahini cookies for dessert.

“Our first nooner was this past Wednesday, and I believe I’ve already achieved some of my goals for lunchtime service on the Westside,” Hartell says. “Several people who live and work here in the neighborhood came by to grab lunch and it was great to see them having conversations and taking a little break out of their busy day. Bringing people together to enjoy each other and fresh food is what I am all about. My goals are also to promote and remind people to shop locally and support independent small businesses.”

Catch the next 17th Street “Nooner” this Wed., Sept. 11 at 820 W. 17th Street in the Westside.

Pita for Good, Kansas City, Missouri, pitaforgood.com

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Jenny is Feast's contributing editor for Kansas City. She brakes for chef's coats.

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