When it comes to owning a mobile kitchen, success is all about location, location, location. But what happens when your ideal location has voted against mobile units? You improvise.
Irene Manglis, the founder of Meli Greek Street Donuts, did just that when Tarpon Springs—known for its affinity for Greek food and culture—restricted mobile units to operate in city limits. Manglis and fellow food truck hustlers would either have to operate inside an industrial park if they wanted to operate near Tarpon.
Refusing to serve up her recipes passed down by generations of women in her family next to cranes, Manglis took her trailer to Palm Harbor where a friend owns a shopping plaza and allows her to set up shop on weekends.
Manglis remembers watching her mom making doughnuts for church festivals, benefits and get-togethers.
“They would have to start at 4 a.m. to get the wood super hot to make enough heat for the oil to reach its temp. Then they would fry all day, and people would come to pick up their orders. My mother came to America and had it much easier. She just had to turn on a stove,” Manglis told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay via email.
The original doughnut recipe was passed down by her mother’s yiayia (grandmother) in Greece and has since been the base of every offering at Meli Greek Street Donuts.
Serving up made to order Greek doughnuts, aka loukoumades Manglis puts her own spin on the classic. Meli, translates to honey in Greek, and is a large part of the loukoumades recipe—which are traditionally served with honey syrup and cinnamon.
While wanting to give a major nod to her great grandmother, Manglis decided to put her own twist on the recipe, incorporating Nutella, Oreo, bacon, whatever is both delicious and on-trend.
Like the Let’s Get Fluffy, with white chocolate praline, Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal and honey fluff from Tarpon’s own Bayshore Bees.
There is also the Classic Kanella (great grandmother’s recipe), Churr’All I need, Poli Oreo and the Choco-Fretta (pictured above).
Keeping things seasonal, Manglis is offering pumpkin spice doughnuts with pumpkin whip. Meli’s also mixes up frappes and Greek iced coffee.
Manglis creates every bite out of an old horse trailer that she renovated in January while working by day as a paralegal and what she calls a “dough girl” by night.
“Meli wasn't just a good idea for me. It's my family tradition, it's my culture, it was my dream! I've poured my heart into every detail Meli has. Too good not to share. I took a chance and it's the best thing I ever did.”
Once local markets and events are back in full swing, Manglis hopes to take Meli’s all around town for all of Tampa Bay to get a taste. Until then, you can catch Manglis and her doughnuts from 6 p.m.-10 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m.-10 p.m. Saturday at 36211 U.S. Hwy 19 N. in Palm Harbor. Check out Meli’s (@melisgreekstreetdonuts) Facebook page for updated dates and hours.
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