Happytown Healthy Fast Food Trailer and Café in Cape Town

The cheerful mobile venture that’s making organic, gluten-free goods affordable and accessible

The notion of healthy fast food seems as much a paradox as the idea of an honest politician or a conformist Cape Town hipster. In our minds, quick-service snacks are burgers dripping with grease or fries soaked in oil, so the two concepts simply don’t sit well together. Local entrepreneur Aimee Arries and her US-born chef fiancé Heru Johnson, however, are out to disprove this apparent oxymoron and to show that wholesome fare can be rendered as affordable and easily accessible as any Streetwise Zinger or Big Mac Meal.

In mid-July 2014, the duo launched a mobile fast food trailer under the cheerful name of Happytown that serves up bites that are nutritious, well priced and available until the wee hours of the morning when famished party-goers are stumbling home. Currently, the nomadic truck does the rounds predominantly in the Northern Suburbs and Cape Flats from Tuesday to Thursday and in the city bowl from Friday to Sunday, and very soon (end of August 2014), the enthusiastic twosome will also open a permanent eatery just off Long Street.

And the best part is, while Happytown’s fare is healthy and good – we’re talking 100% organic, gluten-free, sugar-free and dairy-free in many cases too – it also makes anyone with intolerances or allergies appropriately ‘happy’ by being just as deliciously palate-pleasing as any standard quick-service eatery’s slimy chips or fried chicken.

“Healthy food is often not attractive or tasty, but ours is ridonkulously yummy,” says the zealous chef, who spent years fine-tuning the recipes for the brand’s dishes to make them as appealing as possible. “With us, you can have a burger with cheese and a shake and still stay slim and not have to take out a loan to be able to afford it.”

The wholesomeness of the meals is largely due to the types of ingredients sourced and the way in which the items are prepared. The meat used in the trailer’s burgers and wraps is free-range and locally reared, the chicken is air baked not fried, the salads are rich with organic field greens and power plants like spinach, the juices and smoothies are packed with straight-off-the-tree fruits and the non-dairy shakes are creamy and thick but sans lactose, sugar or other additives. Happytown even serves an assortment of scrumptious desserts that are perfect for anyone, including young kiddies, with sugar sensitivities – think gluten-free kiwi cakes, organic homemade juice popsicles and sundaes made with “rice cream that’s as good as gelato”.

Even the packaging does no harm to the body or the environment; all the takeaway boxes are biodegradable and made from natural materials and some of the wrapping is even edible.

And the bonus is that all of this appetising goodness is readily available at all hours of the day and night. The little wandering truck sells its snacks until between 2am and 4am daily and is constantly moving around to settle where its customers want it – if 10 or more people from a particular area tweet at Happytown, the trailer will trundle its way over to them.

That’s what the brand is all about, after all: spreading the happiness that comes with healthiness as far and wide as it can. As its upbeat name suggests, the mobile van oozes cheerful vibes and aims to associate eating sensibly with joyfulness and high spirits. As Heru says, “when you leave Happytown, you should feel positively recharged.”

We’re betting that the mere fact that it’s now possible to quickly and conveniently get organic fare without blowing a hole in the budget is enough to leave locals feeling invigorated. The idea that there’s now an affordable, nutritious, late-night alternative to the old Steers or McDonald’s burger is certainly worth a smile.

Tip: A generous 10% of the money made from every Happytown meal sold is donated to the Jolly Jumping Juniors Center for Future Leaders, a non-profit organisation that supports abused and orphaned children. So, take comfort in the knowledge that your salad or snack is helping a worthy cause.

The Bill: As mentioned, prices are incredibly reasonable. Burgers average around R45, wraps go for about R46, salads sit just above or below R49, desserts are all under R20 and juices, shakes and smoothies cost between R18 and R45.

Opening Hours: Trailer: Tuesday – Thursday: 8am – 2am; Friday – Sunday: 8am – 4am. Restaurant: Tuesday – Sunday: 8am – 4am (remember, the restaurant doesn’t open until the last week of August 2014)

11 Green Street (just adjacent to the The Dubliner) | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0)74 252 6412 (follow Happytown on Twitter (@happytownsa) to ascertain the whereabouts of its food trailer)

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Intrigued by the concept of a food truck? Read more about the mobile dining movement in Cape Town.

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