Gyro cart

New Gyro Cart owners Josh Jojola and Charles Keokuk sliced and served 10 pounds of lamb Thursday. As summer approaches, they’re planning on that number doubling. (Photo by Justin Criado/Telluride Daily Planet)

Despite the wintery weather lately, spring is here and summer is just around the corner. Fickle forecasts may not be the best tell tale sign of the season, though. On Wednesday, the first food cart set up outside of the courthouse, which basically means it’s summertime in Telluride or, at least, the end of offseason.

“When the food carts come out, it’s for sure summer,” Josh Jojola said.

The Gyro Cart welcomed a steady flow of customers as new owners Jojola, Charles Keokuk, Jackie Distefano-Keokuk and Joe Distefano dished up 50 gyros in going through 10 pounds of lamb. It was the same Thursday.

“We’re going to go through way more during the summer,” Jojola said.

Receiving two deliveries a week, Jojola explained they’ll need to up that during peak summer season, mainly the weekends of Bluegrass Festival and Fourth of July, when they plan to go through up to 20 pounds a day.  

The cart will be there for the late-night crowd, too. After posting up from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day except Tuesdays, nighttime hours will be 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Credit cards are also accepted now. There aren’t any major changes to the menu, though Jojola said he’s added simple touches that enhance the main menu staple, like roasting red peppers or some secret seasoning to add “more flavor and depth to the food.”

“I changed a few things up just to make it more convenient, even though everything before was great,” he said. 

A gyro meal, including chips and a drink, is $12, while a traditional gyro is $9. The lamb is prepped at the Elk’s Lodge, where it’s cooked for eight hours at 200 degrees before getting cooled down in an ice bath and thrown on the spit at the cart.

Jojola and Keokuk, who both worked at the Last Dollar Saloon, have wanted to start a business together for a while and the cart was the perfect opportunity, as they purchased the cart in March and have been waiting to open through offseason.

“We’ve always worked well together so it was a good fit for all of us,” Keokuk said. “And I always wanted a side business. I wanted to make an imprint on the community.

Jojola has cooked in several restaurants in town, but he said it’s not always the most glamorous gig. With the Gyro Cart, he’s able to interact regularly interact with customers and see their satisfied faces.

“Ever since I started cooking, I’ve wanted to do something like this. What I like about this is when you make it and hand it to someone, you see the look on their face. They’re like, ‘Whoa, that looks delicious.’ That’s the greatest feeling ever,” he said. “When you work in a restaurant kitchen, you don’t see that. If you’re cooking, everything’s getting blamed on you and you’re not getting any glory.”

Several customers Thursday congratulated the new cart owners on their new venture and, of course, loved the food.

The Diggity Doggs cart was also parked in its normal spot, near the courthouse steps, Thursday. It won’t be long before the Grilled Cheese Cart is across the street on the sidewalk in front of Elks Park.

According to telluride.com, food carts are “our answer to fast food.”

“You have to travel 65 miles to get to the nearest Mickey Ds! No Wendy’s, no Pizza Hut, no Burger King and no Taco Bell.”

No need to visit Ronald McDonald. A simple stroll up Main Street, especially during a sunny day, will sate that grumbling belly beast.