Drive through quaint downtown Clarkston, and you might spot a micro van reminiscent of Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine carefully cruising down Main Street.
Curt Catallo, co-owner of the Clarkston Union Bar & Kitchen and the Union Woodshop, bought the white C-Mag Cargo Van new on eBay in 2006. Originally intended for a U.S. Army base, the vehicle was drafted into decidedly non-military service as “the Macmobile,” named for the famous mac & cheese served at Catallo’s restaurants.
“We wanted something that was as original as the two joints it would be running between,” Catallo says. “A golf cart just wouldn’t do.”
Because Catallo is an advertising creative director by day, his “little beast” sports eye-catching original graphics. With “The Macmobile” playfully printed next to the Union’s logo and “Caution: Our filling is hot” stamped across the back hatch, it’s no wonder the compact courier has developed a loyal following.
Three to four times daily, the cheese cab travels its circuit between the Union and the Woodshop, delivering prepared mac & cheeses and hauling away empty dishes.
Clarkston’s “little engine that could” has racked up more than 600 miles, quite a feat considering it has a mere one-block “commute.” But the van’s three-figure mileage is a small tally in comparison to the number of mac & cheese servings consumed at the two eateries. Some 60,000 orders are placed annually for the original, ham, and lobster versions. The rich casserole even caught the attention of The Wall Street Journal, landing a spot on its front page. (Celebrity note: When Kid Rock and Pamela Anderson legalized their union at the Union, lobster mac & cheese was served at the reception.)
Rock and Anderson may not have had the recipe for marital success, but Catallo does have the secret to making the ultra-cheesy dish with a distinctive sharp bite — and he’s not telling.
“There’s enough going on in there to keep foodies and kids occupied at the same level,” Catallo says. “That’s the key to any great version of comfort food: It needs to remind you and surprise you.”