by Claire Oxford
On an average Saturday night in Gambier, the patio of Gund Commons is rarely the place to be. That was not the case this past weekend when Kenyon’s newest late-night eatery, a food cart called the Mad Cow, hit the Village food scene.
A simple shared joy is at the center of the Mad Cow, co-founder Michael Buse ’16 said: “We love to eat. I think we all have a passion. … We all enjoy fresh, well-made food.”
The Mad Cow crew has also gotten a few good reviews to boost their confidence. Both Buse and fellow co-founder Cathy Mayer ’16 babysit Owen Decatur, who gave glowing feedback on their quesadillas.
Owen’s dad, President Sean Decatur, told them he would stop by the cart as well.
“And coincidentally, [Decatur] used to study mad cow disease, so there’s some sort of link there,” Mayer said. “But we have no affiliation with the disease.”
The Mad Cow features a menu of grilled cheese sandwiches for $5 with toppings at no extra charge, grilled chocolate sandwiches at $2 for a half-sandwich and $3 for a whole, and vanilla soft-serve ice cream with various toppings for $2 a cone, $3 for a small cup and $4 for a large cup. For now, the Mad Cow only accepts cash, but will be accepting K-Cards and credit cards as soon as possible.
Operating out of a sleek mobile food cart complete with a sink, griddle and other cooking equipment, the Mad Cow’s three founders served up sandwiches and ice cream on Saturday night as students milled about, munching on food and chatting animatedly under the glow of twinkling white lights strung up on the patio and around the edges of Mad Cow’s tent.
Mad Cow’s first night was a success. According to co-founder Lucy Adams ’16 they were open until 2:30 a.m. and shut down only when they started running out of ingredients.
The Mad Cow team plans to operate one night each weekend from around 10:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. The cart’s location, to be advertised on social media, will change almost every weekend depending on where students will likely be headed for their evening antics.
The Mad Cow can be found this Friday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. by Ransom Lawn before the Cinearts screening of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Social Board is sponsoring the catering for the event, where students will be able to pick up grilled cheese and grilled chocolate sandwiches free of charge.
Wherever their location, the founders are committed to providing fresh, local food. All dairy products are supplied by Doug Daniels, a seventh-generation Ohio farmer who operates Meadow Made Farms outside of nearby Amity.
Certification by Knox County Health Services and working through the set-up of a small business presented some challenges and tedium for the Mad Cow team, but they credit Daniels with helping get the Mad Cow up and running. Already experienced with opening and operating food stands and carts to market his own products, Daniels guided the group through filling out paperwork and acquiring a food cart. Daniels also supplies the cart with fresh, organic cheese and ice cream made from a 100-year-old family recipe.
Mayer and Adams hatched the idea for the Mad Cow last semester while working at a café in Prague, where Adams studied abroad. When the two met up with Buse — one of their Kenyon friends who was also abroad at the time — in Rome, the group realized they wanted to start their own food cart to give students another restaurant option in Gambier and share the laid-back, late-night joy of eating simple, delicious food.
Buse described the evening when the three were at a “romantic pizza café, late at night … after several drinks on a beautiful patio with pizza in front of us, and the happy Roman children running in circles,” the idea clicked.
“We just wanted to transport some of that vibe to Kenyon,” Mayer said. “The late-night, fun food vibe.”
“Coming to the Mad Cow will be like stepping into Rome,” Adams said.