IU sophomores Max Himelstein and Misha Rekhter, co-founders of Bloomington’s new delivery-only restaurant Trap Mike’s Late Night Market, sacrifice their time outside of school to grow their business into part of IU’s campus culture.
Trap Mike’s opened Feb. 4. It operates from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays.
The restaurant has seven to eight kitchen staff and seven to eight drivers each shift, Rekhter said.
Himelstein, who majors in economic consulting and public policy analysis, said the restaurant has averaged more than 100 orders each night. He said on its first night they received 30 orders in the first 10 minutes. Its most popular items include the Buff Chicken wrap and the Big Mike toasted sandwich, he said.
“We’re definitely off to a good start,” Himelstein said.
Trap Mike’s rents a ghost kitchen from One World KitchenShare, a program in Bloomington allowing vendors to pay hourly to access the commercial kitchen, Himelstein said. He said the staff usually starts preparing kitchen equipment and fresh ingredients at 7 p.m. Once the restaurant opens at 10 p.m., the staff operates on a main food line, a pancake station and a frying station and sends the food to the delivery drivers once they’re finished.
Gabe Rosenberg, an IU sophomore and Rekhter’s roommate, said Rekhter and Himelstein spend most of their time outside of school planning the restaurant’s operations and working during their business hours.
“They’re working on Trap Mike’s all the time,” he said. “It’s really cool to see how hard they’ve been working and the work finally paying off for them.”
Rekhter, a behavioral economics major, said he and Himelstein worked every night during their business hours for the first two weeks of operation. Both agreed that although their business takes up a lot of time and energy, the sacrifices are part of being entrepreneurs.
“It is obviously difficult to get it all done,” he said. “But, you know, this is also the best part of the business.”
Matthew Ohrn, manager at Trap Mike’s and a sophomore at IUPUI, is a long-time friend of Himelstein and Rekhter and worked with them at a Jersey Mike’s in high school. Ohrn said they loved making sandwiches and hanging out and used to joke about opening their own Jersey Mike’s. Now working at Trap Mike’s, he said he loves its work culture.
“We work with a purpose,” he said. “I just want to be a part of it because maybe one day it could turn into something really big, and I want to be there for it.”
Himelstein said although working at Jersey Mike’s was just a way to make extra money, he benefited from the experience and tried to carry their stress-free mentality as high school employees to Trap Mike’s kitchen.
“My motto is to make good food and have fun,” Himelstein said.
Part of Trap Mike’s philosophy is to be upfront and honest to customers, Rekhter said. He said the restaurant doesn’t charge a delivery fee and builds delivery costs into the menu’s item prices.
“Prices here on the menu is really what you’re paying, and that’s what we believe in,” he said.
Growing up with many IU alums in his family, Himelstein said Bloomington has been a big part of his life. He said restaurants like BuffaLouie’s and Pizza X have become part of the local culture. He said his long-term goal for Trap Mike’s is to build its identity into Bloomington through marketing and outreach and expand to other college campuses, so that people think of ordering from Trap Mike’s after parties and sports games.
“We want to eventually be a face of late-night food on college campuses,” he said.