Food Trucks Rollin' Into the Upstate

What am I eating for lunch? On a typical weekday for most of us, that question is one fraught with limited and rarely interesting answers. Do you eat that sandwich at your desk again, brave the fast food line for something cheap and underwhelming, or hit up your favorite restaurant for the third time this week? Surely there's more to the midday meal than this.

If the Upstate’s food truck boom is any indication, there certainly is.

With catchy names like ThoroughFare and Henry’s Hog Hauler, and with unique menu creations like ramen noodle soup with braised pork belly, or a meatloaf sandwich made with 100 percent local, grass-fed beef, the most inventive lunch ideas around in the Upstate are increasingly found in parking lots.

Far from the old vision of “roach coaches” serving cheap grub for construction and factory workers, the modern food truck movement, now booming around the country, is all about culinary experimentation, with the relatively lower cost of operating a food truck often providing a measure of flexibility for many experienced chefs looking to try new menu items.

Today, food trucks all over the nation are bringing the caliber of food and creativity normally reserved for high-end brick and mortar restaurants to a much broader potential clientele. That ability to push the culinary envelope is part of what attracted husband and wife Neil and Jessica Barley to open ThoroughFare Food Truck in Greenville last year. “I saw the popularity growing for food trucks, and not just the trailers that serve funnel cakes and things like that, but something a little more upscale,” Neil says.

Often eschewing traditional advertising in favor of social media, most food trucks build their customer bases using a modern twist on old fashioned word of mouth. Food trucks like ThoroughFare often use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to let their patrons know where they’ll be next.

For most, it’s a system that seems to be paying off. Lines tend to follow the most popular trucks wherever they set up shop, and though they’ve only been in business for a few months, Neil Barley says ThoroughFare is doing great business. “It’s probably been more than what I thought it would be,” he says.

Though starting a food truck might seem on the surface to be much easier than opening a brick and mortar restaurant, the process comes with its own set of challenges. Trucks must have access to a DHEC-approved commissary kitchen for preparing and storing their food. Most often, that means renting kitchen time from an existing restaurant. Food trucks also must have business permits and collect taxes for every jurisdiction in which they operate. “We pay a hospitality tax to the city when we’re in the city, and then we pay to the county when we’re in the county,” Barley explains.

 

 

 

Some of the most popular food trucks in the Upstate include:

Henry’s Hog Hauler
(864) 918-6228

Southern Smoke BBQ

(864) 304-5221

ThoroughFare Food Truck

(864) 735-8413

ASADA
(864) 770-3450

Photos courtesy of Thoroughfare.

Christopher George is a freelance writer and multimedia professional from Spartanburg. He is a former editor and publisher of the Spartanburg Spark, and his writing and video work has appeared in numerous online and print publications including Mountain Xpress in Asheville, NC and in titles by the Hub City Writers Project.

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