The mid-state has no shortage of culinary diversity. Different flavors of tasty goodness from all over the world encompass the Central Pa. region with a vast selection of restaurants in many different forms. From diners and chain restaurants, to outdoor dining and fast food, finding a place to eat is sometimes a difficult task for locals, but not because they don’t have options, more so because they can’t choose from the overwhelming amount offered.
Lately, one type of food service has made a huge impact on the region, and it’s taking over the city and streets. This recent fad in Harrisburg cuisine is the food-truck takeover. When it comes to eating, what could be more convenient than having your next meal on wheels and parked on a street near you?
The standard fast-food restaurants may not be fast enough anymore compared to the convenience of walking up to a food truck and getting your meal made-to-order. And the freshness and originality of these trucks are sure to beat out your typical double cheeseburger and fries from a dollar menu at a drive through.
Aside from the ease it brings to customers, what does this big craze in the food-truck business mean for the owners?
While it isn’t easy starting your own business, the food-truck industry opened doors for aspiring chefs and expanded business for already established restaurant owners. Harrisburg Magazine tracked down four local food trucks to share the food that they offer and some insight from the owners on how the local food-truck craze has impacted their businesses.
The Chicken Truck
For Joseph Devor, the restaurant business is nothing new. Since the age of 15, he’s been in the food industry. In 2013, at the age of 30, he worked with his wife to start The Chicken Truck to work toward their goal of opening a bar and restaurant. The Chicken Truck offers a variety of chicken items, including their signature made-from-scratch chicken tenders and fresh-cut French fries. Devor loves sharing his passion with others and believes that even though the truck has benefitted him personally, others are also reaping the benefits of the food-truck craze in the area.
“People are looking for something different and likely inexpensive,” says Devor. “Many food-truck operations can offer the high-quality food of a caterer or brick-and-mortar restaurant but deliver it fresh to location and do it at a comparable, if not lesser, price. Also, many people enjoy the experience that it created with the presence of a food truck. Food trucks can create a restaurant experience in an array of locations. And food trucks are cool!”
Fresh-cut French fries are famous for being found on boardwalks at many popular beach destinations, but thanks to Allen Peck, the Harrisburg area has been able to enjoy those delicious French fries right here in the midstate since 2013.
His food truck, Potato Coop, takes French fries to another level. Pulled pork fries and Philly cheese steak fries are just two of the popular choices on the menu of specialty fries. Peck is thankful for the community’s support in the food-truck craze, and his main goal of reaching out to local residents and connecting with them has been a huge success.
“I wanted to start a business to be able to interact with the community and provide opportunities for personal advancement to those who are looking to better themselves,” says Peck. “The best part about having the Potato Coop is being able to meet and serve new people in a new place daily. We love meeting new friends and gaining new followers as more people get to experience our spin on the already widely loved fresh-cut fry.”
Soul Burrito, LLC
Soul Burrito, LLC is famous for serving a variety of cuisine and a fusion of flavors, all packed into and wrapped up in a burrito. Chef Obi Linton and his wife, Nicole Linton, started the food truck in 2013, offering foods from around the world ranging from Jamaican jerk, curry from Barbados, Japanese-inspired vegan sauces and, of course, the Mexican burrito.
When it comes to the newly thriving food-truck craze in Central Pa., Chef Obi believes that it’s a chance for dreams to come true for those aspiring to be in the food industry.
“It’s basically about opportunity” says Chef Obi. “People who aspire to own a
restaurant dream about doing just that. But, unfortunately, it remains a dream because of the financial burdens. The food truck is the answer to most aspiring restaurateurs’ dreams to actually step out on faith. The Harrisburg area and surrounding 20 miles is basically a smaller version of Philly, and it is an opportunity for success in a beautiful area for such dream-chasers. Diversity in the state capital is beautiful.”
Up in Smoke BBQ and Catering, Inc.
Brisket, ribs, pulled pork and chicken – a barbecue lover’s dream! This selection as well as other specialty foods can be found at Up in Smoke BBQ and Catering, Inc. Seafood, steaks and other grilled foods are also available, including special requests.
Owner Marc McMullan started his food-truck journey in 2012. He says that “cooking barbecue is a long, tedious process,” but the food truck has made his dream of being his own boss come true, making the hardships worth it in the end.
“I started the food truck in hopes of becoming self-employed,” says McMullan. “My favorite thing about having a food truck is being my own boss. …Food trucks are becoming really popular, especially for weddings and corporate events. I believe we have been able to out-price traditional caterers and are also providing a fresh, made-to-order product.”