Students craving a new lunch option can now visit Falafel House, a food truck that serves falafel in a variety of ways including sandwiches, bowls and bites.
Falafel House is parked outside Northern Neck on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
According to Executive Director of Auxiliary Enterprises, Mark Kraner, food trucks like Falafel House bring diversity to Mason Dining.
“We don’t have some of these pieces; we were looking for those,” Kraner said. “I don’t need somebody to come sell you hamburgers. I need something different. They need to have a variety, add something to the mix.”
High school friends Mahmoud Sarhan and Colin Todaro started Falafel House as a way to pay off student loans.
Before starting the food truck, Sarhan, a Mason alum, worked at local restaurant Aladdin’s Eatery, where some of the most popular dishes were falafel. Sarhan said he decided to start a business using a family recipe.
“[Aladdin’s Eatery] is a franchise, so it’s not homemade falafel and I was just surprised at how popular it was with all demographics,” Sarhan said.
According to Sarhan, the market for falafel may be small, but there are a lot of Israeli and Egyptian falafel restaurants. Falafel House serves traditional Palestinian falafel, Sarhan said.
“It’s more of a cultural thing, because I thought if I’m going to start a little business to make some money, I want to do it and kind of spread culture,” Sarhan said.
Though Falafel House is monitored and regulated by Sodexo, there’s more freedom than a Mason dining facility, Sarhan said.
“After your first semester, I’d say you kind of – I’m not going to say get sick of Mason’s food, but you want to try something different and this is something different,” Sarhan said.
Sarhan said he adds different menu items each week to keep students interested. Students can also ask for free samples of the food before purchasing.
According to Kraner, Dining and Parking Services work together to find convenient spots for the food truck without infringing on student parking. Interested food trucks are offered a few spots on campus to sell their food, but most choose to park in front of Northern Neck.
“I think getting in front of the students and being down toward the engineering or business school would be better, but they don’t see it that way,” Kraner said.
In addition to working with Parking Services, the food trucks must manage their insurance and contracts before serving students.
“All the detailed work of managing a contract is done, and we work with Sodexo to do that so everything’s in place,” Kraner said.
However, food trucks don’t always stick to a regular schedule if business isn’t promising.
“The big thing is a couple of them haven’t come back because they didn’t get sales,” Kraner said.
Though students may express an interest in trying new food, Sarhan says many can be reluctant to actually try it.
“The thing about this truck is once you try the food, you’ll come back,” Sarhan said. “But the thing is, [students] have to actually try the food.”
Photo Credit: Amy Rose