Michael Foust found “Ethel” — a 1953 all-aluminum Spartan Aircraft Trailercoach — parked in a farm field in Rantoul, Kan.
“I was going on my gut. I immediately thought, that needs to be alive, and a food truck,” says Foust, who is the chef-owner of the Farmhouse, a farm-to-table restaurant in the River Market.
Foust bought Ethel, then commissioned Mag Specialty Vehicles in Grain Valley to give his 35-foot recreational vehicle a makeover. The goal was to keep the original metal patina and overall redesign “as organic as we could,” says Dan Stacks, specialty vehicle sales manager.
On Sunday, May 1, Ethel will officially take up residence under her food truck alias, Red Wattle (an heirloom pork breed). She will be the movable but mostly stationary centerpiece of Little Piggy, a food truck hub in a former used car lot at 3014 Southwest Blvd.
The grand opening will run from noon to 5 p.m. Regular hours are still in flux.
Red Wattle will be run by Foust’s long-time employees Aaron Turvey and Andrew Minks. The menu will feature tip-to-tail, pit-roasted meats cooked over house-made charcoal. The meat will be served in sandwiches and by the pound, along with a la carte side dishes.
“I don’t want to get pigeonholed, but we’re going to have a lot of worldly influence,” Foust says of the menu.
Trips to food truck scenes in Portland, Ore., and Austin, Texas, have Foust thinking Kansas City’s first food truck hub will be like no other. The used car office will serve as a communal commissary to prep food. El Tenedor (Spanish tapas), Pie Hole (Australian meat pies) and Wilma’s (a self-proclaimed collision of “redneck” and French cuisine) will dock out of the hub, coming and going around town as they please.
“I thought we should draw together because together, we’re more powerful than just one truck traveling around,” Foust says. “We’re all chefs. This is going to be a chef-driven food truck lot.”
If the hub is successful, Foust envisions expanding throughout the metro using shipping containers as portable structures to set up inexpensive commissary kitchens and eventually beautifying those neighborhoods by adding urban gardens atop the containers.