#FrontStreetFoods Meet The Makers: Hula Girl Espresso

Front Street Foods is happening – 7 days a week, all summer long! Have you been yet? Grab breakfast on your way to work, gather ’round a picnic table with your co-workers for lunch, or make an evening date. The market is open Monday to Friday from 7am-9pm, Saturday 11am-9pm and Sunday 11am – 6:30pm.

Shedoesthecity is proud to present the Front Street Foods Meet the Makers series. In our second installment, we get to know Elias Vastis of Hula Girl Espresso, whose mini coffee empire was built after a trip to Hawaii, home to some of the world’s most exotic coffee beans.

What you love most about your business?

I love that I own small shops that really become part of the community. You get to know people’s names and orders. You know the community through coffee.

You have a distinct brand. Tell us about Hula Girl.

I always knew I would own my own coffee shop, even before the Hawaii experience and coming up with Hula Girl. I once met this pop-art graffiti artist named Denial and loved his stuff, so I took his card and told him I wanted him to do my branding when I finally decided to open my own business. Three years later, I was ready to build Hula Girl and could not find his card anywhere. I did remember that he was from Windsor and had done some work for another restaurant, so I found the number and called them up and they gave me his contact info!

What’s the easiest way to describe your food? 

Fun!

What are some menu highlights that you will be serving at Front Street Foods?

The butter coffee – it’s organic coffee, organic butter and organic coconut oil blended together and it’s really great to see people experiencing something so new. The crowbar – a croissant with a chocolate bar baked into it. My salads – they’re brand new on the menu, at the market and in both of my shops. The salads are a healthy and filling lunchtime option. They’re seasonal, fresh and exotically inspired (Moroccan Cranberry Quinoa, Mediterranean Couscous and Red Cargo Rice with Arugula).

When someone says “summertime food” what do you think of? 

My mind immediately goes to fresh food and farmers markets.

Favourite seasonal ingredients? 

Winter – toasted marshmallow. Summer – pomegranate! It’s nostalgic. I always ate them as a kid with my family, and you work so hard to get those little pods out. You are literally eating the fruits of your labour.

Favourite summertime drink?

Gotta be a cold brew coffee.

Current life motto?

Work hard, work hard … I wish it ware play hard! Really though, I would say take care of people, and people will take care of you.

What’s on your summer bucket list?

This is my summer! I’m hoping to take a long vacation to Portugal with my wife after a busy summer at the market.

What is the craziest/most interesting trek/adventure you’ve ever taken for either a) a great meal or b) a particular ingredient?

I trekked through a maze of twisty tiny streets in Santorini, and almost got trampled by donkeys, to find an amazing restaurant we’d heard of. I had the most amazing squid ink pasta that was mixed in a giant wheel of gran padano parmesan before being served at our table.

Maybe it’s time you finally tried a butter coffee. Stop by the Hula Girl Espresso stand at Front Street Foods and grab one on your way to work. For more info, photos and details on their permanent locations, check the website.

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