Although not a new phenomenon, the trendiest revolution in dining has their headlights on our coast!
Callie and Gary Ford entered the food truck business as a means for self-employment. “Callie and I were tired of working for other people,” explains Gary. A former smokehouse trailer was their first vehicle used to introduce Callie’s New Orleans cajun-inspired food to the Santa Fe, New Mexico, area in 1999. After spending twelve years in Santa Fe, they relocated South. Seeking a warmer climate and access to a beach, they moved to Corpus Christi in 2011. “Corpus seemed like just a real nice choice,” Gary says. “Real close to the water, great climate and great people.” Before heading South, the Fords traded in their trailer for a bus. A friend was auctioning off several old airport shuttle buses, and the food truck was purchased for one dollar. “It was a mess,” Ford recalls, chuckling. Repairing and rebuilding the food truck themselves, the Fords had Callie’s Cajun Food Truck up and running after 3 months. Their food truck contains a six burner range with an open flame and oven, large commercial refrigerator, commercial freezer, microwave ovens, deep fryer, and sink. The Fords usually park in front of the School of Science and Technology, Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 4:00 pm until they run out of customers. They also participate in special events, such as A La Mano, at which time they offer kid-friendly fare. Married for almost 20 years, the Fords have spent 16 of those in the food truck business. “We both like cooking and we both like eating,” Gary says.
STEERBURGER GRILL & GRUB
Mark Beeston’s 34-year background in the corporate restaurant world more than prepared him for operating his Rockport-based food truck. “I’m a full-blown certified restaurant,” Beeston explains. After deciding to open his own food truck, Beeston and his wife settled in Rockport since they, “Love the fact that it has everything here or it’s near-by, but it has a much more relaxed feel.” Beeston, whose trailer was built in a Georgia factory to his specifications, has been serving his personal recipes since 2014. “Everything is fresh and from scratch,” he explains. Initially envisioned as a part-time endeavor, the popularity of the food truck grew the business into a five-day-a-week event. “We keep very busy and I have an absolute blast doing it,” Beeston says. He enjoys grilling burgers outside on the porch attached to his trailer. “I get to visit and talk and kind of play with my guests when I’m out there cooking,” he says. “It’s really about fresh, great food and fun.” Beeston parks in front of Drifter’s Resort, Tuesday through Saturday, from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. He also participates in Rockport Market Days the third Saturday of every month.
THE MIX GRILL
The MIX Grill is all about experimentation, both with recipes and equipment. “We always change it up; there’s no set way to do anything,” says owner Carlos Ramirez. Running The MIX Bar and Grill downtown for two months in 2014, Ramirez saw that 80% of sales were food. Desiring to cut down on overhead costs and to be mobile, he bought a prior snow cone/concession truck on New Year’s Day 2015, closing the bar in the process. Ramirez, who has been in the restaurant business for about 15 years, enjoys having a large, versatile menu. “I think that’s the best part about having a food truck, is just being able to change up the menu to whatever you want to do,” he says. While he occasionally parks outside the Southside Cantina, Ramirez is mostly involved in different events. “Food trucks are probably inspected way more [than restaurants] because they inspect you at almost every different event,” he explains. As with other food trucks, Ramirez stocks fresh produce and supplies daily, with anything not used disposed of or donated that evening. “It’s constantly fresh, it’s constantly original, it’s constantly something different,” says Ramirez.
Benjamin Carrizalez bought a former CCISD delivery truck and outfitted it as a food truck, with some equipment coming from former local restaurants. Opening for business in November, 2014, he serves authentic, traditional Mexican food with a twist along with some Asian-fusion offerings. With a limited restaurant background, he’s learning as he goes. “It’s been an experience learning the whole restaurant business, especially since it’s mobile,” says Carrizalez. Working with partners and family, Carrizalez focuses on maintaining a mobile food truck that participates in events and doesn’t stay parked in one spot. Carrizalez also loves doing catered events. Kitchen manager, Samantha Battista, explains the appeal of food trucks, “You can see the whole kitchen, you see the whole line, you see your food being prepared.” In addition to being able to visualize the food preparation process, ingredients are usually fresher, as they must be purchased almost daily. “The food’s usually fresher; our food is all fresh,” Battista explains.
Nicole Kindzirsky dreamt of joining the food industry. The Early College Programs Coordinator, Kindzirsky had no prior restaurant experience. Recruiting her mom, the two successfully dabbled in catering out of her home kitchen. Her word-of-mouth cooking endeavor blossomed into a food truck business the day her husband surprised her with a truck. Bought through Johnny’s Lunch Boxes, Kindzirsky’s truck features family recipes of Asian fusion with Filipino flavors. In addition to food, Kindzirsky also offers cooking classes. “We’ve just had such a great response with my sushi class,” says Kindzirsky. While she loves cooking, her favorite part of having the food truck is greeting the customers. She relishes when she’s asked to surprise someone when taking an order. Orders are custom made, so patrons enjoy having something special made when Kindzirsky is not too busy. “People aren’t aware that you can get honest, true restaurant quality food out of a food truck,” Kindzirsky explains. While she enjoys her time with the food truck, Kindzirsky sees growth in her future. “We definitely see taking D’lish Foods and creating an entire brand off of it,” she explains. Catering, a co-op, brick and mortar store, they are all expansion plans for the future.