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Greenville LIFE in the EAST

SPRING 2021

GOING MOBILE Food trucks take local cuisine on the road

INSIDE:

BILL’S HOT DOGS, CAROLINA CHICKEN AND WAFFLES, LAST CALL PIZZA, ANITAS, MORE ...


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Greenville: Life In The East

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Spring 2021


CONTENTS Publisher Robin L. Quillon Editor Bobby Burns Contributing writers Karen Eckert, Franki Garcia, Melissa Glen, Deborah Griffin, Dylan Johnson, Nathan Summers, Donna Williams Photographers Karen Eckert, Melissa Glen, Deborah Griffin, Dylan Johnson, Donna Williams Regional Advertising Director

04

08

14

PREVAIL FOOD TRUCK

ANITA’S TAQUERIA

BILL’S HOT DOGS

18

CAROLINA CHICKEN AND WAFFLES

22

24

28

THE ROCK FOOD TRUCK

UNCLE FRED’S

LAST CALL PIZZA

Craig Springer

Advertising representatives Tom Little, Ken Rhodes, Christina Ruotolo, & Rubie Smith Creative services director Jessica Harris Creative services Lora Jernigan, Emily Leach Layout design Jasmine Blount Greenville: Life in the East is a publication of The Daily Reflector and Adams Publishing Group ENC. Contents may not be reproduced without the consent of the publisher.

Greenville LIFE in the EAST

SPRING 2021

GOING MOBILE Food trucks take local cuisine on the road

INSIDE:

BILL’S HOT DOGS, CAROLINA CHICKEN AND WAFFLES, LAST CALL PIZZA, ANITAS, MORE ...

Chef Matt Cole of Prevail stands in front of his remodeled 1946 firetruck. He serves authentic Hawaiian street food.

Spring 2021

FROM THE EDITOR Several years ago, the newsroom at The Daily Reflector was buzzing about something new in town — Villa Verde. Yordanys and Eridania Bastardo moved to Greenville from the Dominican Republic by way of New Jersey, hoisted their culture and flavors onto a truck, and were serving it up at locations around town to great reviews. Jane Hudson, the first editor and creator of Greenville Magazine, put Villa Verde on the cover. They may not have been the first mobile food around here — barbecue joints, for instance, had trucked in pig pickings for decades — but this was like an exotic roadshow of cuisine. The excitement it stirred among the staff at the paper resonated with food-lovers across town. The Bastardo family worked hard and parlayed their success into two popular brick and mortar restaurants. Their venture showed Greenville was ready to embrace the food truck culture. Now, a half dozen or so trucks are based in the area, with more that visit here regularly from towns nearby. In this edition of Greenville — Life in the East, we feature seven that are making their mark with styles ranging from Caribbean and Hawaiian to authentic Mexican. There is an outfit that hauls around a brick pizza oven, one that makes chicken and waffles, and one even offers a treat previously sold only in The Original Washington — the renowned Bill’s Hot Dogs. Behind each of the businesses, of course, are people. And common threads in their stories are family and a passion for food that is sewn into their recipes and into their drive to pursue and achieve a dream. Of course, chasing those dreams through a pandemic has delivered both hardship and opportunity to enterprises that focus on outdoor eating. But another common thread, community, is helping these folks carry on. With any luck, that same community that embraced Villa Verde will keep these trucks rolling a good way down the road.

Greenville: Life In The East

— Bobby Burns

3


alhoa TRUCKLOAD OF Chef’s mission to fuse Hawaii with ENC served up by Prevail

By Nathan Summers

M

By Deborh Griffin

att Cole is on a mission to create a culinary spirit of Aloha in Greenville with his unique food fusion, and he’s driving an unmistakable 1946 Chevy truck to do it. The Prevail Hawaiian Street Food truck already has entrenched

itself as a local regular in the growing mobile food trend, and chef/owner Cole is finding a growing audience with his distinct Hawaii-meets-Carolina flavors. A professionally trained chef of more than 20 years, Cole said food service and cuisine has shifted largely to “fast casual,” and there is no better means for delivering that than from his converted antique truck that can be found outside businesses and breweries around town several days a week. Prevail and other food truck mainstays in Greenville are in such great demand, they also have regular food truck “rodeos” in the lot at the corner of Evans Street and Fire Tower Road. “I took a lot of my experience in the fine-dining industry and mixed it with a little bit of fast casual, and I think that’s the future of the restaurant industry, especially with COVID-19 going on,” said Cole, a Charleston, S.C., native who has been in the business in one form or another since he was 14. “Fine dining, the profit margin is just not there, so we’re trying to work smart, not hard.” Cole worked extensively in the resort business before deciding to break out on his own via a bona fide, modified firetruck. His previous life in the high-end resort world stoked his interest in cuisine and introduced him to the fine-dining craze of the early 1990s. He worked at a Charleston resort for eight years, learning the business. That simmering passion carried Cole next to the Culinary School of America in New York, where he spent two years before embarking on an internship at a five-star resort in Aspen, Colo. “That was what the trend was at that time 20 years ago,” said Cole, whose wife coined the name Prevail after watching her husband’s no-quit attitude in getting the truck up and running both financially and mechanically. “I think that trend has taken a huge pivot to fast casual.”

Island bliss in ENC Island bliss in ENC

It was not a life-changing trip to Honolulu or Maui that laid the foundation for Prevail’s island-themed menu, but instead a gig as a chef in Naples, Fla., where

4

Greenville: Life In The East

Spring 2021


Chef Matt Cole of Prevail gets ready to prepare an order.

Cole worked alongside three-time James Beard Award winner and Hawaii native Roy Yamaguchi. “I didn’t grow up in Hawaii, but working on the line 12, 14 hours a day and six or seven days a week (with Yamaguchi), you can get pretty close to knowing a lot about Hawaiian food,” Cole said, noting that he did further training specific to Hawaiian cuisine after that. “You are who you surround yourself with.” Cole’s taste for Polynesian food was born, and he simultaneously learned that demographics, geography and local tradition were important in establishing a menu and clientele. That thinking was critical when it came to opening Prevail last year in Greenville, where Hawaiian food tradition is scarce if not non-existent, at least until now. “When I first moved here, I had to ask a lot of questions,” Cole said. “Because I couldn’t come out and serve (traditional dishes like) lau lau and lomi and chicken long rice noodles like you would see in Hawaii. I had to gain the trust of Greenville first by

Cole of Prevail stands in front of his remodeled 1946 firetruck. He serves authentic Hawaiian Street Food.

introducing them to certain things I think would work here. So, I took ingredients from eastern North Carolina and meshed them with some of the techniques, some of the philosophies and ingredients and combined the two. I tried to make it as approachable as possible.” What emerged for Prevail was a core menu reflecting that approach — from Karaage Japanese fried chicken to shrimp burgers to “malasadas” donuts for dessert. Still, it hasn’t been a cake walk for the truck in its quest to gain a permanent foothold. “When I first came out with that truck, people thought I was serving food from Mars,” Cole said. “They didn’t really understand. I really had to reassure them that it’s good. It’s kind of like P.F. Chang’s. It has a heavy influence of Asia. If you like potstickers, if you like fried chicken ... it’s just prepared slightly different.” Naturally, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge, but the food truck industry in many ways has had the chance to soar by offering quality food in an outdoor setting, and Prevail, now half a year into existence, is along for the ride. “I’ve got quite a few people who are loving it and coming back and getting the chicken or the Bulgogi street fries, they have been a huge hit,” said Cole, who noted his malasadas donuts were also an immediate favorite. “I’ve been slowly trying to massage the idea of Hawaiian food into Greenville and Winterville.” Already, Cole said his truck is booked for regular brewery appearances at places like Tapped and Nauti Dog through the end of 2021.

Prevail cook Greg Knowles and chef and Cole prep for a night at Tapped.


FOOD FACTS NAME: Prevail Hawaiian Street Food OWNER: Matt Cole WHERE TO FIND THEM: Greenville and Winterville breweries including Tapped, Nauti Dog and Local Oak and the food truck rodeo at the corner of Evans and Fire Tower. WHEN TO FIND THEM: Weekday/weekend evenings at the breweries, and appearances at the food truck rodeo at the corner of Evans Street and Fire Tower Road as scheduled. Check the Prevail Food Truck Facebook page and prevailfoodtruck.com for an updated weekly schedule. MOST POPULAR DISH: Karaage Japanese fried chicken sandwich with seasoned fries. ALSO ON THE MENU: HoneySriracha fried shrimp burger, smoked pork belly tacos, Kalua pork sliders, rib-eye Bulgogi Hawaiian street fries, Hawaiian “Impossible” cheeseburger, Hawaiian doughnuts “Malasadas.”

Cole, right, and Knowles prep for a night at Tapped.

6

Greenville: Life In The East

Spring 2021


Although certainly not by design, the pandemic’s now 10-month extended stay has afforded food truck operators like Cole a rare opportunity to continue to meet peoples’ demand for restaurant-quality food in a low-risk environment. “I kind of have COVID on my side,” Cole said. “What I mean by that is people get tired of staying in all the time, so you might see them at breweries a little but more. I get people that order for their whole family and take it home. When we’re at one of the breweries, you get people that come just for the food truck. And the breweries don’t mind because sometimes people go in and get a beer while they wait for their food. It’s a great marriage, a great relationship.”

Keep on truckin’ Keep on truckin’

TRADE YOUR JOB FOR A CAREER!

The brightly painted, 75-year-old former firetruck that houses

Cole’s operation has its own story and took its own lengthy

n

journey to land in Winterville. Now that it’s here, it doesn’t have

n

to go all that far — one of the owner’s strategies is to stay local, develop his following here and mostly avoid leaving town to

n

attend bigger food truck gatherings. Part of the Prevail mindset and naming came from the dozen

n

or more serious issues Cole encountered from the time he first came to own the Chevy truck and the first time he served food

n

from it. Cole, now the third owner of the truck, bought it a little more than two years ago from Paradise, Ohio, where it was used as a parade truck. He then painstakingly gutted and restored it,

n

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including adding a 454 Chevy big block V8 engine. “We would break down, and it was kind of like I expected it a little bit, and that’s why I was very quick to fix it,” Cole said of the early stages of getting the restored truck running as a full-on food truck. “I had a head gasket blow on that thing, and it only put me out one week. I‘ve got an awesome mechanic.”

Spring 2021

FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT PITTCC.EDU

Greenville: Life In The East

7


Edwin Carbajal shows off his daughter Penelope in 2017

PASSION FOR FOOD AND FAMILY Anita’s Taqueria delivers an authentic taste of Mexico By Franki Garcia By Staff and contributed

T

he idea of a family business

food trucks, selling authentic Mexican food

was not foreign to Edwin

in eastern North Carolina, so I wanted to do

Carbajal. So it’s not surprising

that,” said Carbajal, whose Mexican family

he would name his business

always has been big on cooking. “It was kind

for his mother.

of a passion for food and family.”

All the delicious dishes offered by Anita’s

After discussing it with them, he decided

Taqueria Food Truck come straight from his

to buy a truck from a friend in 2011, and

mother’s cooking, too.

Anita’s was born.

Carbajal watched his parents operate a

A pioneer in the rise of local food trucks,

convenience store in Simpson for 15 years.

he said they used it mainly for catering

When they decided to retire, he wanted

and hosting events at first to get a feel for

to continue working with them. As he was

the business. The business grew slowly

brainstorming ideas, he said he tried to focus

but surely, and the family opened Anita’s

on what the community was lacking.

permanent location on Memorial Drive in

“I saw that there weren’t any Mexican

FOOD FACTS

NAME:

Anita’s Taqueria Food Truck

OWNER:

Edwin Carbajal

2015.

HOW TO FIND THEM:

1100 N. Greene St. by the Greenville Flea Market, 11 a.m to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Otherwise, follow them on Facebook and Instagram for other times and locations.


Anita’s Taqueria Food Truck parks at Greenville Flea Market.

Both have continued to bring rave reviews. “I have been going to Anita’s since they opened their physical location,” Maria Corona, a customer from Greenville said. “When you think of Mexican food, the first dish that comes to mind is tacos. “As amazing as they are, my favorite meal at Anita’s is gorditas de chicharron with their salsa verde,” Corona said. “When I go to the physical location I always ask for the meal with their agua fresca de tamarindo.” During the day the restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Carbajal said they leave the evening open so the food truck could be available for birthdays, catering or events. The restaurant along with the food truck were doing well until March of 2020 came along. Like everyone, they had to rearrange their way of selling food because of the pandemic. Before the pandemic, the truck could be so busy the crew would put out 30 orders for food in under 30 minutes, Carbajal said. When COVID-19 forced the cancellation of all the big community events, business fell

Anita Taqueria Food Truck Tacos.

flat. After four months, as people learned to

Gorditas on the grill.

navigate the pandemic, they slowly were growing the business again. “Because the restaurant is limited in space it was hard to have the 6-foot distance, so as of now there is only take-out at the restaurant,” Carbajal said. The food truck found space and a steady customer base at 1100 Greene St. by the Greenville Flea Market every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It visits a variety of other spots during the week. The truck offers tacos, gorditas and quesadilla with a variety of meats. “When it comes to the food truck I try to keep it simple for my employees,” Carbajal said. “If you want the more advanced items,

BRICK AND MORTAR:

1915 N. Memorial Drive 11 a.m to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

MOST POPULAR DISH:

Tacos, two for $6 or four for $10. With or without cilantro and onion. With the meat of your choice: Asada, alpastor, pollo, cactus, chorizo.

ALSO ON THE MENU:

Cheese and meat quesadillas for $7, fully loaded quesadillas for $9. Gorditas three for $11.


like the birrias, go to our physical location,” he said.

Anita Carbajal works the food truck in 2017.

The top item at the food truck without a doubt is the tacos, he said. At the restaurant on the weekends it is the beef birrias. “Each taco is made with a homemade tortilla, topped with cilantro and onion, with a choice of meat listed on the truck,” he said. When ordering, customers may either call in advance to pick up or go to the food truck, he said. Follow Anita’s on Facebook and Instagram to track where they are on any day. Carbajal said to try either the red or green sauce to accompany any dish. “When it comes to our sauces, I make them to amplify the flavors that are already there,” he said. “If you really want to try a piece of Mexico, they can come see us,” Carbajal said. “We give thanks to everyone that supported us all these years. “We are looking to find another place to set up the food truck.” he said. “We appreciate the support and there is more to come.”

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Anita Carbajal works the food truck in 2017.

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Valerie Dunn owns Bill’s Hot Dogs of Greenville. Recently they were parked at HarleyDavidson in Greenville.

BILL’S ON

Couple who brought classic hot dogs to Greenville delivers again By Deborh Griffin

T

he sound of biting into a juicy Bill’s hot dog has been

the restaurant is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

described by some as a “pop,” and others as a “snap.” No

Their food truck began its journey in December of 2019, just a

matter the adjective, many find it satisfying to the senses.

few months ahead of the pandemic-induced economic slowdown.

Until recently, Bill’s dogs were exclusive to the town of

Married 38 years, the Dunn’s have owned and operated

Washington. For years customers lined up, and out, the screened

a handful of restaurants, one of them being On the Water in

door on Gladden Street in downtown, waiting to get a hot dog —

Washington, now closed, just a few blocks from Bill’s.

or three — all the way, with Bill’s iconic white, spicy chili, mustard and onions.

When the opportunity presented itself to open a franchise, they were excited to carry on the Bill’s tradition. They dedicated to stay

In 2018, Billy and Valerie Dunn brought that quintessential taste across county lines to Greenville and opened the first and only franchise of Bill’s Hot Dogs. Located at 4300 Eastern Pines Road,

12

By Deborh Griffin

true to the legacy and prepare their hot dogs precisely the way they have been prepared for almost a century. “We are serving the same “nuclear-red” hot dogs, using the

Greenville: Life In The East

Spring 2021


FOOD NAME:

Bill’s Hot Dogs of Greenville

OWNERS:

Billy and Valerie Dunn

HOW TO FIND THEM:

Find them on Facebook, billshotdogsofgreenville.com and 252-689-6987.

Jake Frost, likes the “snap” of Bill’s hot dogs when you bite into them. Frost works at HarelyDavidson as a sales specialist and had never had Bill’s until recently when he moved here from Connecticut.

BRICK AND MORTAR:

4300 Eastern Pines Road, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

MOST POPULAR DISH:

same buns and condiments, and serving the

Bill’s Hot Dogs served with the original, famous chili — franchised from the original Bill’s Hot Dogs of Washington.

same, famous ‘secret ingredient’ chili,” said

ALSO ON THE MENU:

the Washington store and delivered to the

Fresh or smoked sausage dogs, french fries and chili cheese fries, Moon Pies and chips

ENDORSEMENT:

“It is has an amazing, amazing flavor to it and it has a nice snap to it. That is my favorite part, actually. The snap,” said Jake Frost, a sales specialist at Boneyard HarelyDavidson, who recently moved from Connecticut to Greenville.

Valerie, just like the original Bill’s Hot Dogs, started in 1928 by Bill Jackson. In fact, the special chili is made daily in Greenville store each morning, she said.

a steamed bun,” she said. That method, mixed with three simple toppings, are the ingredients of success. “They all work well together. This is why they have been made the same way for almost 100 years,” she added. The chili, mustard and onions are put first

“We may differ in atmosphere, but the

into the bun, then the hot dog is added on

concept and the food are the same,” Valerie

top, allowing the bun to become soaked with

said. “We even use the same vendors when

flavor.

possible — to make sure people are getting that nostalgic bite they are used to.”

Sometimes people ask her why the hot dogs look shriveled.

The fact that the retro-red hot dogs

“When we cook them in grease, they

are fried and not boiled, gives them that

expand. Then the grease drains out of them,”

consummate crunch customers clamor for,

she said, leaving a rather wrinkled, but tasty

she added.

frankfurter.

“They are fried in lard, then dropped into

Luke Woolard, loyal customer and friend

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This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number H80CS10607 Health Center Program, in the amount of $8,654,913 or 48% of total program costs with $8,956,453 or 50% financed with nongovernmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit HRSA.gov. GCHC is licensed by the state of North Carolina, led by an independent Board of Directors and is an FQHC Program grantee under 42 U.S.C. 254. GCHC receives HHS funding and has Public Health Service (PHS) deemed status with respect to certain health or health-related claims, including medical malpractice claims, for itself and its covered individuals.

Spring 2021

Greenville: Life In The East

13


Madison Hallman, a senior at ECU who works in the motor clothes department at Boneyard Harley Davidson, grabs a hot dog and french fries on a recent Saturday at Bill’s Hot Dogs.

of the Dunns, said, “The way they prepare the hot dog itself — there

offering a lunch option for shoppers. Woolard was one of the food

is just no comparison.”

truck’s first customers.

But, the draw goes beyond hot dog prep. The reason people return again and again to Bill’s is the special sauce.

“Valerie is one of my best friends. I do my best to give her as much business as I can because this is my favorite food truck — 100

“Our chili, hands down, is what makes us unique,” Valerie said.

percent. We have a few other good ones around here, but as far as

Even she is not privy to what is in the secret recipe. The spicy,

the quality of the food, the people that are running the vehicle, and

white, meatless, gravy-type-chili has people hooked.

their prices — there is no comparison,” said Woolard. “No offense

Woolard, who works at Boneyard Harley-Davidson’s, store claims Bill’s Hot Dogs of Greenville has deviated, a bit, from the original business model, offering more on their menu than simply hot dogs, chips and drinks. Woolard said the french fries are a nice addition. “It is like a new thing, and everyone has been going on and on about the fries. They are incredible,” he said.

store because COVID-19 has eliminated many traditional food truck gigs, such as festivals and college functions. “The pandemic has slowed the food-truck business down,” she said. “We were booked all last year with festivals, but because of the pandemic they were all canceled.”

The fries can be topped with Bill’s famous chili, as can the sausage dogs the Greenville franchise offers.

Also, with East Carolina University being mostly online, many of the students — prime customers — have gone home.

Bill’s Hot Dogs of Greenville’s Food Truck was parked at the motorcycle establishment on a sunny Saturday in early January,

14

to the other guys.” Valerie said she welcomed the offer to park the food truck at the

“It is the best chili there ever was.”

“However, we have found a few good spots to go when we don’t have private events,” she added.

Greenville: Life In The East

Spring 2021


Spring 2021

Greenville: Life In The East

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Waffle & Bites

FAMILY BIZ HITS THE ROAD Carolina Chicken & Waffles brings something new to eastern North Carolina

Waffle & Wings

By Melissa Glenn

C

arolina Chicken and Waffles

When they realized the answer could be

brought a new style of food

opening a business, Payton said it wasn’t

to the area and brought one

hard for them to decide to make it a food

family closer together.

enterprise.

Frederica Robinson and her six

“All of us at some point had worked with

children started the business in

food, whether in high school or that was

February 2019, even though they

our normal job at the time,” Payton said.

hatched idea months before when they

“It kind of hit me. I was like ‘you know what

were together for the holidays.

we don’t have around here, we don’t have

“We were sitting around the dinner table like we always do during the holidays,” Jamerus Payton, one of

Ms. Fred’s Lemonade

18

By Staff and contributed

a chicken and waffles place.’” They joked about the idea and put it on the back burner.

Robinson’s children and co-owner said.

“February came, and a sequence of

“We started thinking like what’s next

events started happening where we were

for the family. Our family has always

like ‘Hey, y’all, remember that conversation

been big on love ... love you can pass

about starting a business? Let’s go ahead

that down, but what can we pass down

and do that,’” he said.

tangibly?” Greenville: Life In The East

They started by selling the food under Spring 2021


A customer places an order when the truck was at Tapped in December

FOOD FACTS NAME:

Carolina Chicken & Waffles a tent to gauge demand. Once they saw the

on Fire Tower. Jennifer Spengeman, the

response was positive, Payton reached out

owner and operator of Tapped, said food

to other business owners for advice, he said.

trucks and bottle shops have a “symbiotic

“These days, with the food truck industry starting to pick up in eastern North Carolina,

relationship.” Businesses like Carolina Chicken &

it’s becoming a lot easier to find people

Waffles help bring in more customers to

who can help out,” he said. “I was fortunate

the shop, especially during the pandemic,

enough to know people in the business

and in return, the shop provides them with

already, and one of my friends had a

a place to set up and connect with Tapped

chicken and waffles restaurant, so he was

customers.

very forthcoming about information and what I needed to do.”

“An added bonus is that our community gets to enjoy foods from across nationalities

The same friend was able to give him

and ethnicities, all while interacting

a contact for a truck, which the business

with neighbors and enjoying a delicious

started leasing in August 2019. Payton

beverage,” Spengeman said.

said since getting the truck, the company has been able to grow its market.

Carolina Chicken & Waffles features chicken strips, thighs, bites and wings, both

“We’ve been pretty much everywhere

boneless and regular. All of the chicken

in eastern North Carolina now,” he said.

comes topped with the customer’s choice

“Everyone is excited about the opportunity

of sauce whether sweet honey barbecue or

to have something new, something fresh

spicy buffalo. Guests also can choose from

that brings the family feel.”

a variety of waffle flavors such as blueberry,

While the truck does not have a

strawberry, pecan, red velvet, chocolate

permanent spot, Payton said it’s frequently

chip and others. The business also offers

set up with a local food truck rodeo at Evans

waffle fries as a substitute.

Street and Fire Tower Road in Greenville or posted at breweries in the area.

Also on the menu is Ms. Fred’s Famous Lemonade, named after Frederica.

Like a lot of food trucks, it stops off

For some businesses, the pandemic

occasionally at Tapped, a craft beer seller

was an unforeseen challenge that led to

Spring 2021

Greenville: Life In The East

OWNERS:

Frederica Robinson and her six children

HOW TO FIND THEM:

Evans Street and Fire Tower Road in Greenville (4020 Evans St.) and at locales around town. Look for their schedule at facebook.com/ carolinachickenwaffles, on Instagram at carolinachickenwaffles and www.carolinachickenwaffles. com.

BRICK AND MORTAR:

The business opened a permanent take-out location in December at 422 N. Bridge St. in Washington, N.C.

MOST POPULAR DISH: Buffalo wings and blueberry waffles

ALSO ON THE MENU:

Pecan, chocolate chip, strawberry, red velvet and other flavored waffles; chicken bites, strips, wings and thighs and waffle fries

19


The Robinson family opened a briick and mortar location in december at 422 N. Bridge St. in Washington, NC.

hardships and closure. For food truck owners,

dining room area has been turned into a

way COVID has shaken up things,” he said.

Payton said COVID-19 increased business

gallery featuring the work of local artists

“It’s not easy, but it is fun. It’s a way to be

because being outdoors afforded customers

and photographers, he said. The outside also

yourself, to be innovative. If you like dealing

some safety.

features a mural of the company’s history,

with people, you get to meet different

painted by a local artist.

people.”

“From a growth standpoint, because we were a food truck operation, when they

The business has also teamed up with

started shutting things down, we were on

Spaceway Brewing Taproom in Rocky Mount

the beneficial side of it,” he said. “But at the

to create a Carolina Chicken & Waffles IPA

same time, being a young company, we had

using some of the key ingredients in the

to learn a lot as well.”

menu. Payton said the beer is available to

Payton said one of the main takeaways was learning how to sustain the growth they were seeing.

try at Spaceway as well as Villa Verde in Greenville. In the future, Payton said the family may

“We were always good at customer

franchise the restaurant if it makes sense,

service, but it showed us how much more

but they definitely plan to branch out with

important it is to lean on your customers and

the food truck.

make sure from the time they call us, come

“Moving forward, we want to continue to

through that door or come to that window

expand and be in other markets in eastern

that they truly enjoy their experience,” he

North Carolina. We are big on community

said. “We always tell people we are here

and philanthropy, so we want to partner up

for longevity, so if we don’t know what the

with organizations locally to see how we can

issues are we don’t know how to improve.”

help with fundraisers and giving back to the

The family was able to capitalize on its

community.”

success by opening a brick-and-mortar

Payton encouraged anyone who may be

restaurant in December in downtown

interested in opening up a food truck for

Washington.

themselves to give it a try.

Payton said staying true to its food truck

“I think it’s an industry that has shown it’s

roots, the restaurant is carry-out only. The

going to be here for a while, especially the

20

Greenville: Life In The East

The business partnered with Spaceway Brewing Taproom in Rocky Mount to create Carolina Chicken & Waffles IPA.

Spring 2021


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Spring 2021

Greenville: Life In The East

21


ROCK SPRINGS ON A ROLL The Rock Food Truck offers a special experience By Karen Eckert

T

By Karen Eckert & contributed

he Rock Food Truck knows how to make a meal on an ordinary day feel like a special event. That’s because the truck is owned by a full-service venue and catering company, Rock Springs Center, a facility well-known in Greenville for

hosting banquets, receptions and other celebrations. The facility at 4025 N.C. 43 started out as an equestrian center in 1989 and eventually evolved into an event center, according to Aileen Peacock, assistant general manager. “In 2008 we expanded into catering off-site corporate lunches, weddings and events,” Peacock said. “Eventually the need arose to have a more formal off-site kitchen setup to enhance our service. Our team collaborated on a design that would not only be beneficial to our event catering services but (would also develop) a new business venture for our company —The Rock Food Truck,” she said. The truck started its operations in March 2018, one year before the community faced the COVID-19 pandemic. “Just like so many others, the events industry has been severely affected by the pandemic as large gatherings are discouraged,” Peacock said. As a company, Rock Springs was grateful to have the food truck already out in the community with a loyal customer base, she said. “These customers have shown up and supported us on a weekly basis and helped to spread the word about our delicious food and services. Our outdoor services have allowed us to provide a safe and socially distant atmosphere for those who order from us, which has allowed our food truck business to continue to grow over the past year,” she said. Peacock describes the food as “elevated Southern cuisine,” which includes items

FOOD FACTS NAME:

The Rock Food Truck

OWNER:

Rock Springs Center

HOW TO FIND THEM:

Schedules posted on Instagram (@therock_foodtruck) and Facebook (facebook.com/ therockfoodtrucks) every Monday. Menus are posted each morning. Customers also can request to be added to an email list so that they receive weekly updates directly to their inboxes. Email foodtruck@ rockspringscenter.com for more information.

POPULAR DISHES:

• Bang’n shrimp tacos: Local fried shrimp tossed in homemade sweet and spicy bang’n sauce and topped with tangy pineapple slaw and served with a choice of side, $9 • Fried shrimp: Hand-breaded fried local shrimp served with cocktail sauce and choice of side, $9 • Street Corn Salad (seasonal): Fresh corn-off-the-cob mixed with Mexican cheese, signature mayo and spices served as a side dish, $3

“from simple fried local shrimp and chicken tenders to healthy salads to comfort food, such as braised beef short ribs and mac and cheese.” “We certainly have our staples, but also update our menu to keep it seasonal and exciting each week,” Peacock said. At lunch-time recently, the truck was stationed in the parking lot of ECU Physicians at Moye Boulevard.

22

Greenville: Life In The East

ENDORSEMENT:

Chassity Bailey, customer ”My favorite is probably their Bang’n Shrimp Tacos, (but) everything’s good.” Spring 2021


A staff member takes an order outside ECU Physicians in December.

Loaded nachos

Honey mustard fried chicken sandwhich

Bailey frequents the truck about twice a week, and if she skips a couple of weeks, the staff will comment that they haven’t seen her in a while. In order to keep up with the truck, she follows it on Instagram so she can catch it at a variety of locations, she said. The truck sets up shop at a variety of locales, ranging from spots in the Medical District, industries north of the river, government offices, beer outlets and On the menu that day were the “Bang’n Chicken Tacos,” chicken tender and fried

neighborhoods according to its Facebook page. Hours go as late as 9 p.m.

shrimp baskets, crab cake slider sandwiches

Being stationed in parking lots of

and Philly cheesesteaks. These items came

businesses makes it easy for nearby

with a choice of French fries or fried okra as

employees to access the truck, but anyone

a side. Prices were in the $8 to $9 range. Also

can stop by as the truck is open to the public,

available was a pear and apple salad for $7,

Peacock said.

with chicken added, $9.

Customers can visit the truck and order

Chassity Bailey, who describes herself as a

in person or call 252-414-7584 to place

regular customer, had driven a few blocks to

their order then stop by and pick it up, said

from her job at the Vidant Employee Clinic

Payton Irvin, Rock Springs’ assistant banquet

and ordered the fried shrimp.

manager, at Moye Medical Center.

Bailey said she loves the truck because

According to Facebook, customers can

the food is fresh and delicious and as cheap

also place orders for the food truck online

as going anywhere else, like for fast food.

at rockpringscenter.com.

“But it is so much better,” she said. She also likes that the staff remembers her. Spring 2021

Bang’n’ tacos & Honey Mustard Fried street corn Chicken Sandwhich

“We would like to thank all of those who have continued to support us during this difficult time,” Peacock said. Greenville: Life In The East

23


Street Dreams Fred Everett share’s passion, favorite recipes with Fred’s Food Truck

By Donna Williams

W

By Donna Williams

ith every bite, Fred Everett is bringing people home with his Caribbean and

Southern cuisine at Uncle Fred’s Food Truck. Since Jan. 9, 2020, Uncle Fred’s has brought flavorful tastes to the Greenville area with an offering of dishes from Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and more.

FOOD FACTS NAME:

Uncle Fred’s Caribbean and Southern Cuisine

OWNER:

Fred Everett

“The flavor profiles they have are

HOW TO FIND THEM:

Fire Tower Road and Evans Street. Follow Uncle Fred’s on Facebook or call 252-702-1294

MOST POPULAR:

Jerk chicken, chicken and sausage gumbo

ALSO ON THE MENU:

roast beef, collards, cabbage, lime cake, pernil pork

unbelievable. They are bold flavors and sometimes spicy. The culture is just so rich,” said Everett said, who worked in

and more after I got out of college. When I

and is the reason Everett cooks like a painter,

sales before switching to food to pursue

cooked for family, that’s when it got crazy. I

striving for perfection in every dish, he said.

his dream full time.

would be cooking at all times of the night

His preferred recipes are chicken and

and day. I would come up with different

sausage gumbo and seafood gumbo. Both

flavors and new dishes.” Everett said.

begin with a roux that helps to create a

Menu items change each week, inspired from the different regions of the Caribbean. Items consist of rice and beans from the Bahamas or Jamaica, pernil pork from Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic and Creole- and Cajun-inspired dishes.

Cooking is more than just a passion for Everett, it’s a way for him to show love.

memorable dish. “Anyone who knows Creole or Cajun

“In my family and in the culture I grew up

cooking knows their flavors are already spicy

in, that was the one thing as a family that

and bold. With the gumbo it takes time to

The unique flavors are enhanced by

we did when we came together. We always

make the roux. If you don’t make it right you

Everett’s passion and love for cooking. He

cooked. It was one of the ways we expressed

have to do it all over from the beginning,”

has been cooking since he was 12 years

and showed appreciation for one another,

Everett said.

old.

and love and compassion. All of that for me

“It’s been a passion since I was a kid. I cooked all through college. I cooked more

24

is what I do in cooking,” Everett said. Adding love to his menu items is essential Greenville: Life In The East

“I like taking my time making that roux to where it’s the perfect consistency and adding all the flavors from my ancestors and Spring 2021


Fred Everett shows off his gumbo

Barbecued chicken, rice and beans, collards and cabbage

Chicken and sausage gumbo

heritage of the people from the islands and

customers back home. Seeing them satisfied

to cook it all the time. She lives in Havelock

the Gullah people down in South Carolina

brings him joy, he said.

now. This is the closest thing to it,” Bryant

and the Caribbean. That’s what brings that love and compassion to it.” Everett said people think about home when they are eating, adding food cooked

“My passion is cooking and I enjoy seeing

said, adding “It’s great food at a great price.”

people eat my food. Then I know that I have

Williams added, “It’s awesome and it’s

done what I was supposed to, what I was designed to do in this field,” Everett said.

by your grandparents and parents is always

Customers Jay Bryant and Chris Williams

the best. “I try to keep that traditional way

of Greenville said Uncle Fred’s roast beef is

they cooked alive and carry it on,” he said.

among their favorites.

Everett wants his food to bring his Spring 2021

home-cooked instead of fast food.” Everett said if the business continues to do well he would like to establish a brick and mortar restaurant.

“I like it for the taste of it. My mom used Greenville: Life In The East

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Customers make thier last call for pizza outside Tapped in January

Last Call Pizza Co. owners carve a niche in nighttime service By Dylan Johnson or many people in 2020, the

has used the knowledge he’s gained in the food

COVID-19 pandemic kept families

and beverage industry and with Greenville city

apart, shut down small businesses,

government to help put the food truck in the best

whether temporarily or forever, and

position possible, he said.

put plans on hold. For at least one family, 2020

28

By Dylan Johnson and contributed

The food truck used for Last Call Pizza was

brought them closer together as they opened their

previously owned and operated by Jack’s

own small business, Last Call Pizza, a mobile food

Waterfront Bar in Morehead City since 2012. Bell

truck that took downtown Greenville by storm.

said they loved the food served by Jack’s and

“I’m there every single weekend,” Sarah Styons, a

always knew it could be successful in Greenville,

senior at East Carolina University, said. “It’s already

so when the trailer became available to buy this

my favorite pizza to get in Greenville.”

August, they jumped on it.

Last Call Pizza specializes in wood-fired, brick-

“We have all been big fans of the product that

oven pizza and is owned by Will Bell, his wife,

Jack’s offered and knew that when they were ready

Larkins, and her brother, Max Joyner III. Will is the

to sell it could be a hit in Greenville,” Bell said. “We

Greenville City Council District 3 representative,

decided that 2020 presented a great time to invest

as well as a sales manager for Southern Glazer’s

in a food truck concept as consumers were looking

Wine and Spirits. Larkins is also a sales manager,

for places to grab quick, socially distanced meals.”

working at Johnson Brothers Liquor Co. Joyner is an

In order to be approved by the Pitt County Health

insurance agent at Towne Insurance and a property

Department, improvements had to be made to the

manager with F&J Rentals.

inside of the trailer. Even with those improvements

While Larkins and Max were both born and

in place, COVID-19 and understaffing contributed

raised in Greenville, Will grew up in Wilmington

to the process taking longer than usual. On Nov. 7,

before moving to Greenville to attend ECU. Bell

Last Call Pizza officially opened and had its first Greenville: Life In The East

Spring 2021


Max Joyner III, Larkins Bell and Will Bell


night of business. The name Last Call is a reference to the n i g h t l i fe

NAME: Last Call Pizza

OWNERS: Will Bell, Larkins Bell, Max Joyner III

WHERE YOU CAN FIND THEM:

1101 E. Fifth St., University Auto Care parking lot. Follow Last Call Pizza Co. on Facebook & Instagram.

WHEN YOU CAN FIND THEM: Weekends from 5 p.m. until supplies run out

MOST POPULAR DISH:

The most popular “typical pizza” has been pepperoni, but as far as specialty pizzas go it is the buffalo chicken pizza. It’s made up of homemade ranch and buffalo sauce, mixed with sharp cheddar and colby jack cheese, and white meat chicken. After baking, it’s topped with cold chopped celery and a ranch and buffalo swirl. “The buffalo chicken is my favorite by far, and it’s just as good even for leftovers,” Bri Wilke, an ECU junior, said.

ALSO ON THE MENU:

All pizzas are 12-inches and start at $10 for a cheese pizza. Toppings are $1 each and include pepperoni, spicy sausage, bacon, chicken, balsamic glazed tomatoes and jalapenos. Specialty pizzas include the buffalo chicken, margarita, cheeseburger and jalapeño popper pizzas.

s ce n e

in

downtown Greenville. The ownership team said they recognized a lack of options for the late-night crowd and believed a niche market existed.

Last Call has a regular spot at University Auto Care at 1101 E. Fifth St.

“Pizza is my favorite time to open up a food truck.

food, so getting this is perfect for me,” Styons said. “I’m surprised

“Food trucks are definitely experiencing a

there hasn’t been more options to get pizza

lot of growth right now. We are one of many

downtown considering how popular a food

food truck concepts that have opened in

it is.”

2020 and have enjoyed seeing the success

The plan initially was to be open for later

of so many others in Greenville,” Bell said.

hours tailored to the downtown Greenville

One thing that could have interrupted

economy, but the pandemic has forced

that is the COVID-19 pandemic. While

them to adapt to a late afternoon and dinner

the pandemic has ravaged many small

crowd. Typically, Last Call will open around

businesses, Bell said that Last Call Pizza, and

5 p.m. and stay open until supplies run out.

food trucks as a concept, are set up well to

Bell said the response from customers has

succeed despite the issues COVID brings.

far exceeded what they expected. He said

“We think (2020) was a great year to start

they’ve done especially well connecting

a food truck concept. People have been

with customers through their Facebook and

looking for quick ways to get out, grab food,

Instagram pages.

and be socially distant.”

“Our customers have been amazingly

As for 2021 and beyond, Bell said they

supportive,” Bell said. “We imagined it would

definitely plan to move around with their

take some time to build a relationship but

food truck but will be selective about where

the early support has been overwhelming.”

they go. For now, they’re just enjoying what

Perhaps the support could have been

they’ve started.

expected. Last Call Pizza is part of a larger

“Last Call Pizza has had a ton of support

trend in that mobile food has been growing

in the Greenville community so far. We

in popularity for years. There are many other

look forward to improving the process of

food trucks that operate around Greenville

our business and the experience for our

and beyond.

customers, and learning more about the food

That trend meant this year was a great

and service business,” Bell said.

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Spring 2021


Spring 2021

Greenville: Life In The East

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Greenville Magazine Spring 2021  

Local Food Truck Edition

Greenville Magazine Spring 2021  

Local Food Truck Edition