Providence's New Food Truck Serves Oats on the Go

How a cross-country cycling journey inspired Providence’s only mobile oatmeal cafe

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You might mistake it for an ice cream truck at first. The teal-green refurbished horse trailer regularly posts up on the West End at Dexter Park or Blackstone Boulevard’s Lippitt Memorial Park, but the comfort food they’re peddling isn’t of the frozen variety. Instead, find made-to-order wholesome bowls of oats, beloved by both kiddos and adults seeking a reminder of simpler, kitchen-table mornings waiting for the kettle to boil and ripping open a paper bag of the Quaker quick-cook version.

“[Our oats] have become a bedtime conversation for one family,” owner Courtney Ellis explains, describing young sisters who look forward to their Tuesday morning ritual of visiting the truck with their mom. “One of their favorites is Bee Fruitful, which consists of steel-cut gluten-free oats, flax, chia, strawberry, kiwi, banana, and coconut chips.” Ellis is all about infusing positivity into each offering, with titles preceded by “Bee,” a play on the typical honey sweetener found in oatmeal and the affirmative biddings infused in each: Bee Present, Bee Seasoned, Bee Kind.

The idea behind Oatmiel Cafe was devised somewhere between Idaho and Michigan on a cross-country cycling journey Ellis and her sister embarked on in 2011. “We started our adventure off with pots and pans to cook elaborate meals, but as days went on, we realized oatmeal was the most practical thing for us to eat,” says Ellis of the lightweight hot cereal. “It could easily be topped off with an Irish creamer from the nearby gas station, a banana, peanut butter, honey, etc. We got creative.” Looking for ways to make the trip meaningful, she co-founded nonprofit Bike for Better, raising money for Indigenous communities and also developing her entrepreneurial roots with skills that would later carry over into her business plan for Oatmiel Cafe.

In 2017, Ellis made the leap and purchased a vintage horse trailer she found in Pennsylvania. “When I wasn’t working extra hours to save for this business, I was researching every aspect of business ownership,” she explains. “At the time, I didn’t know how I was going to convert [the trailer] or the time and energy it would exert.” She did know that she wanted to do it herself and outfitted the mobile cafe to fulfill her vision.

Find both sweet and savory bowls (think chourico, sauteed veg, and fried egg over oats and chia) made with nutritious ingredients. Ellis mixes up seasonal menus, too: “This summer we featured two vegan options inspired by campfire s’mores and tropical fruit. In the coming months we look forward to launching some new autumn flavors, such as Pumpkin Pie, Cinnamon Roll, and Mocha Latte.” Or, she encourages, don’t be afraid to “bee” creative and make your own bowl! Find the mobile cafe October 2 on South Water Street celebrating a year in business, or Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays dividing time between Dexter Street and Lippitt Memorial Park. 

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