BANDON — Sandee Klein has always loved fry bread tacos, but couldn't find a place to get them in the area. So she decided she'd make them herself and sell them for others to enjoy.
That's quite a leap of faith from a former school bus driver who has never done anything like this before. But Pow Wow Fried, a new food truck that opened March 1, and is parked 1/2 mile south of Bandon on U.S. Highway 101, is already a hit in the area and even draws customers from both north and south.
Klein makes all her fry bread and pie dough from scratch, and makes her own secret-recipe taco fillings. Pow Wow Fried offers Fry Bread Tacos, topped with savory beans and ground beef or simmered chicken, cheese, onions, lettuce and tomatoes, then folded and served with sour cream and salsa. The food truck also features Fried Pies with apple, blueberry, cherry, chocolate, lemon or peach filling, Elephant Ears with cinnamon and sugar, honey butter or powdered sugar, and a Breakfast Pocket, consisting of fry bread filled with ham, bacon or sausage, hashbrowns, eggs and cheese. Klein also offers kid-sized portions of each item, and beverages.
Klein makes each item to order, including frying the bread. She grabs just the right amount of dough, rolls it out and plops it in the fryer. The pies are filled, then folded over and crimped before being fried. Klein is happy to accommodate any special likes or dislikes, including crispier bread or extra toppings.
Fry Bread Tacos cost $6 each or two for $11, three for $16 or four or more for $5 each. Fried Pies are $3 each and Elephant Ears are $4.50. Kid-sized Fry Bread Tacos are $3, pies $1.75 and Elephant Ears $2.50. The Breakfast Pocket is $7 and beverages are $1 each.
The truck, sided in cedar shakes, was once a motorhome that Klein and her husband Fred purchased. Soon they realized the motorhome's roof and floor were rotting, so they tore it down to its frame and hired a family friend, John Anderson, to build the custom-made food truck. It features a fryer, full-size refrigerator, sink, storage and plenty of stainless counter space where Klein puts her Nu Wave and other warming pots. The food truck is designed longways on the chassis, so customers are helped at one end and the kitchen is at the other end. The truck is fueled by propane and inspected by the county.
The Kleins purchased the property where Pow Wow Fried is parked. The lot used to be Blue Diamond Nursery, and the Kleins are using one of the buildings for indoor seating for Pow Wow Fried customers.
"I mean, who wants to sit in their car and eat with their food in their lap?" Klein said.
Klein has lived in Bandon for 22 years and drove bus for both the Bandon School District and the Coos Bay and North Bend school districts. She also worked as a cook for Harmony Estates in Bandon. She grew up in California, then moved to Reno, where she also worked as a bus driver. She and Fred have one daughter, Anne, who graduated from Bandon High School, and two grandsons, Keegan, a seventh-grader, and Konnor, who's in sixth.
"They are my helpers after school," Klein said, who operates the business by herself. "They fill the cups with sour cream and salsa, and they can't get enough of these tacos. They could eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner."
Klein said she used to get Fry Bread Tacos at Paiute Indian Tribe pow-wows, and found a recipe online that she modified. She uses yeast instead of baking powder or soda because she likes the taste of a yeast bread and uses a Polish doughnut recipe for the Fried Pies. Klein purchases all her meat at Price 'N Pride and gets her toppings from Sysco. She's been so busy lately that she's had to make dough several times a day to keep up with demand.
But, at 66, Klein is loving all of it. She even hopes to be able to take the food truck to festivals in the summer, but hasn't worked out the details yet.
"People say, 'What possessed you to do this'?" Klein said "But I'm having a ball and that's all I care about, and people like what I do."
Klein is happy to take orders over the phone on the Bluetooth receiver she wears on her head so her hands remain free for cooking. To place an order or for more information, call 541-505-0913. Hours for Pow Wow Fried are Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. People also are invited to "like" her Pow Wow Fried Facebook page.