HUTCHINSON – Gina Emel grew up in Hutchinson, the daughter of Restaurateurs Jack and Mary Emel. Gina graduated from Trinity Catholic High School and earned her degree in Supply Chain Management from KU. She worked at American Eagle Distribution Center in the Lawrence area for 5 years. When her father, the late Jack Emel, got sick she moved back to Hutchinson.
Gina never thought she would get into the restaurant business until she moved back to Hutchinson. She liked the idea of a food truck because she liked the idea of doing everything (preparing, cooking, and serving. A family friend had a small trailer for sale, Gina purchased it, and had The Traveling Bowl open as a food truck in 2017.
After a few years of setting up in parking lots around town over lunch hours, they expanded into a restaurant in October of 2020. They do still have the food truck and use it a few times a year. A good day in the trailer was selling out about 55 bowls, today a good day is over 200 bowls sold for lunch.
The Traveling Bowl offers home-cooked meals and fresh salads. All of their meals can be purchased as carry out, drive-thru, or delivery in the matter of a few minutes. They offer food that you cannot find at any other drive-thru in town. They also offer a large variety of homemade truffles and will cater meals, parties, and other special occassions.
Sourcing ingredients has been the biggest issue over the past two years. They source through three food providers, Jackson Meats, Smith’s Market, and Ben E. Keith. If they can’t find a product between these three providers, they shop at the local grocery stores. If even that doesn’t work, they change the menu item.
The core group of staff have been with The Traveling Bowl for over a year. They find it important to trust in our employees to get their job done. They come to work, look at the lists, and get right to work. They do not micromanage anyone and find it important to have fun and reward them with time off, holidays, gift cards, and time together for bonding outside of work. Gina truly cares for each of them and their happiness and she strives to make sure they know that.
Last year they partnered with Hutchinson High School for the “Empty Bowls Event”. They participate in the TECH Gala every year and last year they were able to donate our food and services. They donate to several auctions and fundraisers every year. They were a participant in the “Get Healthy” initiative with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas. We have done many fundraisers for individuals and groups, including doing a fundraiser for a local teacher that was hurt in a golfing accident, they sold 350 bowls and were able to donate $900 to the family!
Gina is adamant about supporting fellow business owners, she says… “We embrace any opportunity we get to participate or make an impact at a local event or cause. We love knowing the businesses we use to run our business are supporting local families and their staff and that everything circulates back into the Hutchinson Community. We love keeping it local.”
Thank you, Gina, for coming back to Hutch, for opening a wonderful small business, and for all you do for our community!