Our long local nightmare of drunk people setting their kitchens on fire in the wee hours of the morning may finally be over.
The surprise opening of the Take Away Kebab food truck this week means a post-midnight/delivery option is again available to people coming home from a bender at the pub. Aleksei Frolof, who did no advance promotion for his fast-food eatery other than a Facebook announcement a few hours before it opened, said the numerous fire-related incidents during the past year-and-a-half were a significant reason for starting the business.
“We can help people after 10 o’clock,” he said. “People like to eat and people like to drink, and they come home drunk and that can be a little bit dangerous.”
The food truck is scheduled to be open and offer delivery from noon to 4 a.m. daily. The initial menu features kebab sandwiches, burgers, grenki (Russian fried bread), hot dogs, fries and (non-alcoholic) drinks.
Longyearbyen lost its last overnight eatery when Classic Pizza closed at the end of 2013. Almost immediately afterward a string of early-morning smoke- and fire-related incidents in kitchens resulted due to intoxicated people falling asleep while cooking food.
Frolof, from the Siberian city of Omsk, moved to Svalbard nearly a year ago. He spent four months in Barentsburg, which he said “was like a jail,” before moving to Longyearbyen and spending three months as an information technology worker.
He said he’s never managed a food establishment before, but decided to start the kebab truck because “cooking is my hobby.” He said he has never cooked kebabs before, but picked them as his feature item because “it’s tasty – Norwegian people like it.”
Frolof is renting the truck from Arctic Tapas and the initial fixed property site next to Longyearbyen Car Wash, but “in the future I hope to drive the truck around.”
The truck is larger, but considerably less colorful, than the Rode Isbjørn wagon in the Svalbardbutikken parking lot that became a local landmark and widespread media sensation until it shut down in 2010 when owner Kazem Ariaiwand was arrested for immigration law violations.
Frolof is the lone paid employee for now, but said he willing to work 16 hours or more every day, although he’s getting help from a friend who’s volunteering (for now) part-time.