By Sarah Newberry / Staff writer
If you are missing home-cooked food, The Traveling Bowl is the place to go for Hutchinson Community College students.
Started by entrepreneurs Gina Emel and her fiancé, Michael Cole, it is a place that offers home-cooked-style food with fast, friendly service. It also has a homey atmosphere where you can’t seem to get at many other places else in town.
Emel graduated from the University of Kansas and worked at a distribution center for five years. She said she liked her job, but it wasn’t her passion. Her parents owned restaurants when she was growing up, and she decided to follow in their footsteps.
Emel’s intended customers are the working class or people at home. The intended goal was to help people with a short lunch hour to get them lunch in a few minutes. She said it doesn’t matter what your age is or who you are. Her main customers usually come from the office, banks, or clinics.
Her dream for this business initially started with truffles she started making back in high school fifteen years ago. They were very popular, everyone at school wanted them. Then it changed into the business it is now, selling and making good food. The opportunity for them to grow came around when the building they are now on at 2221 N. Lorraine St., opened up.
As far as expansion goes, Emel hopes to one day have a location across town. She said she misses her customers she had back at the train station. To reach a younger audience, Emel said she hopes to achieve that through social media. Facebook significantly has helped the business grow and reach more people during the pandemic.
“ People seem to be on their phones a lot with Covid, and it has helped her business grow,” Emel said
The pandemic has done wonders for the Traveling Bowl, unlike other small businesses that have been hit hard because of Covid. Emel had to shut down the food truck. She collected to-go pot pies orders during that time. Everyone seemed to want that, and she had 100 people placing orders. Finally, there was a cut-off point, because Emel could only do so much from her kitchen. It turned into the business she has now, popular and up to 100 customers a day.
This restaurant isn’t like any other cookie-cutter fast food place out there. Their employees are friendly and put genuine effort into service and their work. Excellent and understanding customers are also an essential part of that equation.