Two Times the Treats
ice cream tricycle proprietor opens gyro joint
With the weather starting to warm up, it’s time to begin thinking about tasty summer treats. Vangjel Kapbardhi’s ice cream business, Treats, will be out on the road once again this year, with more employees and a new tricycle with a new route, adding to the existing routes from last year in the Eau Claire and Altoona areas.
“It’s interacting very well with the neighborhoods,” Kapbardhi says of the frozen treat venture that he started last June. This season, he hopes to add two more employees, having covered the routes last year on his own. A new trike will mean even more ground covered and even more happy customers on hot summer days.
But if you feel like having some good eats before summer, then Kapbardhi has another kind of treat for you. On April 7 he opened his own gyro restaurant called Dhimitërs in the food court of Oakwood Mall. During his travels in Germany last summer, the many stands and shops selling döners (a variation on the gyro) caught his eye, and he wanted to bring a slice of that back with him to the States.
However, finding a location for the eatery proved to be rather difficult. Kapbardhi looked around town for months trying to find a vacancy, with no results. Finally, a spot opened up in the food court of the mall. “I just signed the lease and paid the security deposit as soon as possible,” Kapbardhi says. Though he wanted to open the restaurant months ago, he’s happy to have found a location and that the business has gone smoothly for the most part.
Opening a restaurant has certainly been a learning experience, between figuring out how to manage employees, schedules, and unexpected situations (like blowing a circuit on opening day and only being able to serve select items from the menu), but Kapbardhi has thoroughly enjoyed being his own boss. After trying a few different jobs, Kapbardhi realized that working for other people wasn’t for him, which is where running his own businesses like Dhimitërs, Treats, and selling T-shirts and e-hookah pens comes in, making the hard work worth it.
Kapbardhi’s interest in business began in high school with his active membership in DECA. His group went to state and national competitions, and in 2014 he helped organize a clean-up project for the Eau Claire and Chippewa rivers that drew more than 80 volunteers and funding from several businesses. While taking general courses at Chippewa Valley Technical College he also enrolled in some business courses at UW-Eau Claire, but he has put that on hold while getting Dhimitërs up and running.
Besides gyros, there are several delicious items on Dhimitërs’ menu, one of them being the Big Boy: a piece of toast with (or without) cucumber sauce and a marinated patty that sits overnight, topped with fries, melted cheddar cheese, and bacon bits. Pilaf with beans – a delicious rice and beans mixture with pork, lettuce, and sour cream – is also available.
Since the restaurant buys supplies in bulk, Dhimitërs can keep prices low while still providing huge portions of food. Getting a drink will only cost you a buck, and Kapbardhi says that he isn’t aiming to make much money off of them. His reasoning? “You’ve got to have a drink with your meal,” he says. “Why pay more money to have a drink?”
As far as what’s next for Kapbardhi, he has a few new ideas in mind. First, he wants to buy a food truck in the next couple of months so that Dhimitërs will be able to provide catering services for businesses and events; second, he hopes to open a new location in either the Water Street area or downtown within the next year. Down the road, Kapbardhi also wants to try his hand at real estate as well.
Keep an eye out for the Treats ice cream tricycles this summer, and be sure to check out Dhimitërs during your next trip to the mall.
Dhimitërs • Oakwood Mall, 4800 Golf Road, Eau Claire • (715) 864-6483 • www.facebook.com/DhimitersGyros