Freedom Funnel Cakes serves fried desserts from new mobile business


Mel Shtanko adds caramel drizzle to a funnel cake for a customer.

By Klines Dairy Bar downtown, a Friday afternoon is filled with fried funnel cakes and friendliness from a new food trailer. Inside, owners Casey Rubenstein and Mel Shtanko are serving customers a variety of fried desserts from their new business, Freedom Funnel Cakes.

“I saw that there was nobody really doing funnel cakes other than during a fair or a festival or something like that. I wanted to offer funnel cakes and fried desserts all year round, seven days a week,” Shtanko said.

Shtanko has found many benefits to having his own truck, such as not having to work for somebody else and having the freedom to be flexible with his own menu and hours. Unfortunately, owning a mobile business also comes with drawbacks.

“A lot of people think you just get a truck or a trailer with a kitchen and you just set up on the street and make money, but that’s not the case at all,” Shtanko said. “There’s a lot more behind it than that, especially with permits, regulations, health inspections, things like that.”

Shtanko was willing to put up with the difficulties, though, due to his passion for street food stemming from his history of traveling.

“I’ve been cooking my whole life, and when I turned 18 I joined the marines as a cook and traveled the world. I used to see a bunch of different street foods in Korea and Japan, and street food always really interested me. That’s kind of how this got started,” Shtanko said.

Shtanko tries to bring the uniqueness found in various street foods to his own stand not just through the items on the menu, but also through their service.

“Our business is a little bit more unique due to the fact that, although we obviously didn’t invent the funnel cake, I feel that the way we offer it, as far as being able to come to us generally seven days a week, [is special],” Shtanko said. “We try to really provide customer service that we feel is non-existent in a lot of businesses nowadays. We try to go above and beyond in the way we greet people and talk to them and things like that.”

Among its most popular menu items are, of course, funnel cakes, as well as freshly made apple fritters. After coming out of the frier, they are tossed in cinnamon sugar and drizzled with caramel sauce.

“We take pride in our product, we try to do as much homemade and scratch stuff as possible. We use very high quality ingredients,” Shtanko said. “I’d probably say the apple fritters [are my favorite]. We hand dice our own granny smith apples, we add them to our funnel cake batter, and they come out like donut holes almost. It’s kind of like a mini apple pie bite… Those are probably one of our biggest sellers.”

Freedom Funnel Cakes has been working to be consistent with their hours and location. Most often, they can be found by Klines. Due to its location, Shtanko has found it’s convenient for customers to go between Freedom Funnel Cakes and Klines to add a twist to the classic soft serve ice cream scoop in the form of a fried delicacy.