Ebbett’s Good to Go comes to Off the Grid. Photo: Shari Washburn

Finally, the local gals get to park their food truck close to home. The duo behind Ebbett’s Good to Go, which currently hawks gourmet sandwiches to the lunchtime office set in Emeryville and San Francisco, will bring their mobile eatery to serve their neighbors at Off The Grid North Berkeley tonight.

Regular readers of this site may recall that these two food-loving moms, who live in Berkeley, set out this time last year to run a lunchtime food truck and still find a way to spend afternoons with their children.

“We both have husbands who work long hours and young kids, so we wanted something that would work with a school pick-up schedule,” Shari Washburn told Berkeleyside right before their launch last year at the Eat Real Festival. “And we did our research and we felt that there wasn’t anywhere in town selling really good sandwiches, so there was a market we could fill.”

Shari Washburn and Suzanne Schafer chief sandwich makers.

And fill it they did, offering gourmet sandwiches like spicy Cuban pulled pork with ham, gruyère, jalapeňo relish and chipotle mayo; Guinness and coffee braised short ribs with horseradish mayo, pickled red onion and watercress; and shredded tofu and Vietnamese-style Banh Mi with house-baked Hodo Soy Beanery tofu, pickled carrots, cucs, piquillo peppers, spicy pesto and sriracha mayo, all served on Acme Bread rolls, all $8.

Washburn, who lives in North Berkeley in walking distance of Off the Grid, is delighted that the baby blue, wood-paneled truck she runs with partner Suzanne Schafer can now show off its stuff in a setting that also includes families (expect a child-friendly grilled cheese on the menu tonight.)

“We’ve been wanting to find a way to join Off The Grid since the beginning but we didn’t have the staff and have had other commitments this summer,” said Washburn. “But we’re good to go now.”

That’s not their only news. The pair celebrated their truck’s one-year anniversary by hiring chef David Elias, who hails from a fine dining background (Hawthorne Lane and Heart in San Francisco, ad hoc in Yountville, Bay Wolf in Oakland), to help take their budding mobile food business to the next level on the culinary front.

The trio know each other personally — all their kids are at the same school together, albeit in different grades. Professionally, they know each other’s work because Ebbett’s is based out of the same commercial kitchen in Emeryville that Elias used for his most recent culinary venture, the pop-up restaurant known as dine@.

Elias is quick to praise what the two amateur cooks have created in a year — a thriving moveable feast operating four days and in several locations a week. He brings a culinary professional perspective and skill set to the curbside setting and says he’s tweaking everything from menus and kitchen management, with the goal to move the business beyond the home-kitchen style start-up. He says he’s streamlining day-to-day systems and bringing up the food production a notch, as well as rolling out more seasonal offerings and weekly specials.

“Whether in fine dining or on a food truck, as a chef, I’m dedicated to delivering truly great food and improving on the food experience every day,” said Elias, who will likely man the van with a crew on Wednesday nights without Washburn and Schafer, whose commitment to work-home balance is admirable in an industry predicated on long, family-unfriendly hours. Washburn and Schafer will be there tonight though, likely with kids in tow, before swim meets and homework make mid-week night work too difficult.

For now, the gameplan is for Ebbett’s to serve up sandwiches every other week at Off The Grid, which takes place on Wednesdays in the North Berkeley Farmers Market space on Shattuck at Rose, from 5-9pm. The truck will also take part in three of the four weekend food truck hubs as part of Off the Grid: Golden Gate Fields, scheduled August 27, September, 3, 10, and 17. (Ebbett’s is off the grid, literally, for the Labor Day weekend.)

The race track events, announced last week, are being billed as the biggest food truck hub ever held in the Bay Area and attendees are encouraged to watch and wager while they scarf down sliders. Think 30 or so trucks, horses, music, and maybe even punters wearing funny hats. Fittingly, given the venue and the event, a hat hawker will be on hand for those who forget their Fedora.

Sarah Henry is the voice behind Lettuce Eat Kale. You can follow her on Twitter and become a fan of Lettuce Eat Kale on Facebook.

Berkeley Bites: Suzanne Schafer and Shari Washburn, Ebbett’s Good to Go [08.27.11]
Why does the street food scene bypass Berkeley? [10.18.10]
Crowds turn out for Berkeley’s inaugural Off The Grid [06.02.11]
Off The Grid to launch weekly street-food event in Berkeley [05.17.11]
Pop-up restaurants are popping up around town [04.29.11]