Bringing Czechoslovakian Food to the masses throughout the Oklahoma City Metro, Dr. Paul Francel shares his origin story behind the popular Czech food truck, Czech Delights, what they serve, and their future plans in this Food Truck Q&A session.
What got you started on Czech Delights?
Czech Delights started as a concept in the mind of Vladislava Polaskova, affectionately called “Lori” here in America. She wanted to create a bakery that would sell authentic Czech baked goods, particularly kolache and strudel. I (Paul Francel) was able to meet Lori at Yukon Czech Hall one day, a national historical site in which I served as the trustee, trying to preserve that old historic enter. I am also a hundred percent Czech and have danced with the Czech dance group since 1997 for the Czech Festival in Yukon. I also have other positions within Oklahoma Czech Inc. as well as the Czech Hall, being the previous president of the international Sokol group. This is how I met Lori, and I became so enraptured with her dedication to her baking and the foods’ wonderful taste that I decided to join up with her to help start a catering business. The catering business grew quickly and so we decided to start a food truck a year ago Spring. The food truck business officially began in the summer of 2015 when we were able to bring two young men from the Czech Republic who had trained as Master Chefs at the Prague Culinary Institute. These two young men are Lukas Brazda and Tomas Hlusicka. These two gentlemen have had extensive years of training in the culinary school, beginning training at the age of 9. They are now 23 years old.
Our food truck became functional in August 2015, and we immediately exploded into one of the busiest food trucks in the state of Oklahoma. As you can see from our schedule we are pretty much scheduled every single day, doing a range of activities from catering at corporations for breakfasts and lunches to serving at private parties to participating in festivals and food truck events, etc. Our business has continued to grow over this time as people begin to learn and appreciate our authentic food.
What do you serve?
[pullquote-right]”Again our food is authentic gourmet food, and we particularly like to use natural ingredients and at times organic ingredients if it’s at all possible. We focus on nutrition and none of our food has a negative health effects.”[/pullquote-right]Our food is authentic, gourmet, European food. Though the focus of our food is Czech food, we serve food from all over Europe, particularly Germany, France, Poland, and Austria. Our main stays on the food truck always include Wiener schnitzel (řízek in Czech) which is the Vienna steak as well as kielbasa. We also serve a host of other items which vary from week to week which include chicken paprikash, various goulashes (particular beer goulash), our Czech chick sandwich, kolache and strudel, and numerous other specialties. We also do breakfasts which includes such commonplace items as eggs and bacon and ham and much more exotic items such as crepes with Nutella and banana, yogurt pancakes, and a host of different types of dumplings. Again, our food is authentic gourmet food, and we particularly like to use natural ingredients and organic ingredients. We focus on nutrition, quality, and taste, and none of our food has negative health effects. Even the slight frying we do on some of the items is only a flash fry at the end to give it a special flavor and is always done in healthy oils such as olive oil or canola oil.
What can people regularly expect from you?
When people come to our truck, they can expect more than just really delicious and healthy food. They can also expect to experience part of our culture. Oftentimes we will wear authentic Czech costumes and outfits, and almost always we put out a table showing our different foods on a gold or black plate to help illustrate clearly what our food is for those weary customers who don’t know what pork schnitzel is. Sometimes customers don’t really know and understand our food and this gives us an excellent opportunity to explain our food and our culture. One of the most noted items to know about us is that we are authentic. The food we serve is the same food that you would see in Prague, Brno, or other Czech cities. The recipes are all uniquely Czechoslovakian.
We also provide a bit of entertainment at our truck which is not common place for food trucks. We often times have music playing polka music, and we will also do entertainment with our customers. For example, one entertainment we did recently was a game in which Lori had a platter of kolache on top of her head and was swirling a hula hoop around her waist, and the customers needed to try to grab a kolache off without hitting the hula hoop in order to get it as a free prize.
What’s a typical day like?
Unfortunately our days are never typical. Our group is really interested in working hard and getting out frequently and having people enjoy their food. We serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and we also fill out our weeks from Monday through Sunday. Even on Sundays we frequently will cater special events or Church events.
What are some of your usual spots and where can people go to learn more about your truck and where you’ll be located?
In order to truly promote us and make it known where we are located, we have hired Barbara Anne Debolt of Debolt and Associates to work with us as our promoter. In addition, we also have Zachary Debolt, who provides our social media coverage in addition to the owners’ own work. The social media coverage include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Yelp, and in addition we have a Google Calendar that is visible and available to all. We also have joined up with the app called TruckitOKC which would enable people to find us by GPS with its beacon technology. We have been using for months a food truck system called FoodTruckIn, which allows us to systematically send out Facebook and Twitter posts that tell people our location, the foods we are serving, and the time when we are there on a very scheduled basis. We will send out Twitter posts 1 hour before and Facebook posts 3-6 hours before these events to remind people of our events. We also have developed an extensive website, and on the website in addition to the calendar we have a full menu listed which provides even more options for Catering (weddings in particular), and also shows us some of the items that we will be serving in Praha Restaurant in Yukon when it is fully built.
Let’s talk about he design of the food truck. What made you go with your truck?
The design of our truck follows our Czech Heritage. The truck wrap is actually the Czech hockey team uniform with its red, white, and blue colors. It also shows some of the food that we provide. It provides information on how to contact us with social media, email, phone number, and the website.
Anything else you want people to know?
[pullquote-right]”Our food truck was created in order to serve our food to people all over Oklahoma and beyond. It has served as a moving billboard for the new Praha restaurant in Yukon.”[/pullquote-right]Our food truck was created in order to serve our food to people all over Oklahoma and beyond. It has served as a moving billboard for the new Praha restaurant in Yukon. This restaurant will be quite a fascinating place, in which we are trying to recreate the setting of the city of Prague right here in Oklahoma. You will enter into an area with an outdoor patio surrounded by plants which includes sprinkler heads for summer heat and umbrellas for shade, as well as very long tables like you would find in Czech Republic or Germany. This outdoor wine and beer garden enables our customers to be teleported to Prague (Praha), enjoying a delicious European drink with our food. The restaurant will contain an extensive sit-down restaurant portion as well as a bakery. We also will include an indoor bar area which will feature International Beer and Wine. We have Consultants working with us to provide the best in these aspects of service.
We hope you’ll come and join us in the Praha restaurant when it is built within the next few months. After the restaurant opening, the truck will continue to provide service throughout Oklahoma and beyond, and in particular it will also serve as our catering truck for many of our catering events. We are planning the addition of a second truck to our team.