Culinary trends are always on the move, but food truck culture is picking up speed in Tennessee.
Dallas Shaw, owner of Hoss’ Loaded Burgers and president of the Nashville Food Truck Association, estimates that Nashville boasts approximately 70 food trucks, with Jackson, Knoxville, Memphis and Chattanooga getting in on the trend.
Shaw says there are many reasons that make owning a food truck popular with aspiring restaurateurs.
“Some chefs choose to open a food truck as a less-expensive way to build a brand, menu and following, so if they ever want to open a restaurant, they would be better prepared,” Shaw says. “But owning a restaurant isn’t always the goal. Having the ability to go to customers, the flexibility to only be open when customers are eating, and having a smaller staff are all major benefits to running a food truck compared to running a restaurant.”
And the customers keep coming back for seconds.
“Customers love food trucks because of the convenience. If we park at an office building, the employees only need to walk out the front door to get their food,” Shaw says. “We make it easy.”
In a delicious twist on the farm-to-table movement, the farm- to-truck movement offers fresh food on the go, serving locally sourced ingredients.
Hoss’ Loaded Burgers features local beef patties from Porter Road Butcher, buns from Champier’s Bakery and Benton’s Bacon.
“We are a small business, and the people we purchase from are small businesses,” Shaw says. “We are helping each other out.”
The Grilled Cheeserie, owned and operated by Crystal and Joseph De Luna-Bogan, also incorporates local ingredients in their gooey creations.
“We decided to open a food truck because, as transplants from Los Angeles, food truck culture was something we missed and saw a need for in the community,” Crystal De Luna-Bogan says. “We decided on grilled cheese because we wanted to source locally. Tennessee has outstanding dairy farms where we could find high-quality cheeses year round and incorporate seasonal ingredients into grilled cheeses.”
Clamoring customers sink their teeth into a variety of favorites, such as the B&B of Tennessee, the Pimento Mac & Chee, and the Buffalo South.
“A great dish, or in our case, melt, starts with great ingredients. It’s as simple as that,” Crystal De Luna-Bogan says. “Without our local vendors like Porter Road Butcher, Bloomsbury Farms, Green Door Gourmet, Bells Bend Farms and companies like Nashville Grown, we would not be who we are today.”