by Angie Ripple
Comfort food is that food that provides a nostalgic or sentimental value for you; maybe your favorite has high calories, high carbs, or simple preparation. In the case of mac & cheese, it’s all three, and if mac & cheese is your go-to comfort food, you will love Bozeman’s Choice Comfort Food - MoBowls! Brothers Jesse and Ty Collins have moved from food truck to store front (200 S. 23rd Ave Ste E7) and taken mac & cheese to a whole new level.
Angie Ripple: How was MoBowls conceptualized? How did it come about?
Ty Collins: We actually had the food truck before we ever thought of the menu idea. I was sitting around with a buddy of mine after work trying to think of a food everyone liked, and he said, "mac & cheese, it brings out the kid in everyone," so we took it and ran with it. "Took it around the world" is what we always like to say. We’ve got curry mac for Asian and fajita mac for Mexican and all that.
2014 was our first year with the food truck. We’ve done the truck for five years, and now we’re here. The truck is May-October, only in the summer months. We opened here October 9, 2018. We got the space in June and it took us all summer, while running the truck, to build it out and finally got it running in October.
AR: Tell me a little about yourself. What made you want to get into the restaurant industry?
TC: Well, my brother (Jesse) and I, were both from Arizona, and we’ve been here going on ten years, both of us and we’ve both worked in restaurants since we were 15-16. We’ve worked in all aspects from washing dishes to management, and we finally decided we wanted to do it for ourselves. So, we took the small step of doing a food truck because it’s a lot easier and then built all the way up to this.
AR: What makes MoBowls unique in Bozeman? What do you offer that others don’t?
TC: Our menu definitely, our menu grew a lot coming into [this location]; we put more mac & cheese on the menu. Our menu is unique enough that it’s something you can’t really find a lot of places. And then for the truck, too, we try to keep it light and personable, have fun, and smile. No one likes a grumpy worker, and no one likes to be grumpy while your workin’, so we always just try to have fun and make good food.
Out of the truck, it’s all pasta, but here we added some rice bowls. We started out with seven mac & cheeses and just kind of went crazy with them, and it’s a bunch of stuff that you normally wouldn’t find in mac & cheese, but it works. It took a little while to figure all that out, a lot of taste testing, which is fun, but mostly I’d say we specialize in pasta.
We offer the craziness of what we did to our mac & cheeses, and kind of everything else that we’ve tried to put together on the rest of the menu is something that really works together, but you're not going to find anywhere else. We tried to step outside the box, but keep it home-cooking style. I think [the item on the menu] that gets a lot of people is the red curry mac & cheese. Curry and mac & cheese don’t really sound like they go together, but it’s turned out to be one of our top sellers and my personal favorite.
AR: What do you want people to experience when they step through your doors?
TC: A good meal and a good time. Like I said we try to keep it light, try to keep a good, fun atmosphere. Everyone that works here is usually smiling and laughing and having a good time. Most of all a good meal, but also a good time, keep it fun, play good music. (Laughs)
AR: What do you enjoy most about being part of the Bozeman community?
TC: Probably how excited everyone is to do activities around here. It’s fun, and it’s easy to get out and do things outdoors because everyone is down to do it. It’s awesome. That’s why I moved up here, to work at Bridger Bowl, and we got into that lifestyle for a while and were ski bums for a while. The outdoor scene and how active everyone is around here is awesome, I like that a lot.
AR: What’s your most popular dish?
TC: Most popular is probably our Cheeseburger Mac & Cheese. It’s got bacon, ground beef, tomatoes, onions and pickles in a mac & cheese, and it sends you for a whirl; it's like eating a cheeseburger on a spoon. A lot of people look at it and are like "pickles and mac & cheese?" but again it works!
AR: Do you guys have anything coming up that you want the readers to know about?
TC: The truck will be back downtown next May, and we do a lot of take out catering, and in the summer we do a full catering set up out of the truck. We do weddings, parties and the whole 9.
If you haven’t had your comfort food fix in a while, get to MoBowls. If you already love MoBowls, give something new from the menu a try and add some deep fried mac balls with bacon to your next order!