Kansas City’s food truck scene just keeps growing. Here’s a look at four that recently rolled out in the metro.
▪ Ash & Bleu Cheese Co. Owner Bethany Harris grew up on a central Missouri farm and later graduated from the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University in Denver. She worked at restaurants in Colorado before joining Whole Foods Market and then relocating to work in the specialty cheese department at the south Overland Park store.
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“At first I was going to open a cheese shop, but after research, I realized I didn’t have the cash. I didn’t come from money, and loan officers said restaurants are risky endeavors. They wanted me to build up clientele first,” Harris said.
She worked at Ibis Bakery in Lenexa, learning the ins and outs of small business. Through Craigslist, Harris found a 1969 Shasta camper in Arkansas and converted it into a traveling cheese shop.
She offers a seasonal list of grilled cheese sandwiches and salads made-to-order. This month includes the Apricot and Chevre with Ibis Bakery country bread, house-made apricot-thyme jam, Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery chevre, caramelized onion and bacon, along with the Black and Bleu salad with organic spinach, blackberries, Ozark Mountain bleu cheese, pickled onions, Marcona almonds and balsamic vinaigrette.
She plans to be at the Overland Park farmers market on Wednesdays and the Mission farmers market on Saturdays through September. At the markets, Ash & Bleu also sells cheese by the pound from local or regional farms.
▪ Betty Rae’s Food Truck. Owner David Friesen opened Betty Rae’s Ice Cream shop in late March 2016 at 7140 Wornall Road. It serves up a variety of freshly made ice cream and sorbet, drawing a loyal following during the season.
Friesen and his wife, Mary Nguyen, spent the winter working on new projects. One: their baby girl, Roxy, who was born on March 12. The other: Betty Rae’s Ice Cream Truck.
They purchased a former FedEx truck (circa 2000) and refurbished it in cheerful aqua with cute sayings on the back, including “My other car is a waffle cone.”
While the Friesens thought they would do more public events, they are quickly filling the schedule with private ones. On a recent Saturday it was a community event for lunch and then a country club annual golf tournament that night. The next day was the Dog-N-Jog on the Country Club Plaza in the morning, a nonprofit event in Waldo in the afternoon, and a private party in the Crossroads at night.
David Friesen said food trucks in larger cities benefit from the greater density, but here they often have to chase the big events.
“It’s insane. We could even get out more than we are,” Friesen said. “But for us it was way more about spreading interest in the shop and meeting people we haven’t met before, going all over and seeing companies I never knew existed. My email box is full every morning.”
▪ Pie Five Pizza Co. The local franchise, KC Pie LLC, has a bright new red and black truck offering nearly a dozen different specialty pizzas, including its Jack Stack BBQ (with Jack Stack pulled pork, red onions, cheddar and diced pickles), chicken carbonara, and Farmer’s Market veggie pizza. It also has build-your-pizza with a variety of options in crust, sauce, cheese, meats and other toppings, as well as a cheese pizza, drinks and Pizza Stix in several flavors. The pizzas are made-to-order and baked in less than five minutes.
“Basically everything that you have in the restaurant but not salads, cookies or brownies,” said Kerry Goebel, partner in the family-owned franchise. “It’s a great opportunity to introduce the concept to folks who may not have tried us, but the goal is to more than cover our costs.”
It is currently booking private events and plans to be stationed at different areas around town with sites to be listed on its website.
▪ McGonigle’s Meat Wagon. Find this truck in a parking lot in the West Bottoms, 1628 Wyoming St., from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and weekends during special events.
“The lunch is where we are doing the business. We are staying until 5:30 because we do have a good core of people stopping to get something to take home, dinner for two or three people,” said Mike McGonigle, owner.
His great-grandfather, William Burnett, had a wholesale meat company with offices in the Livestock Exchange Building in the 1870s, and McGonigle can now see that office from the food truck.
McGonigle’s Market opened at 1307 W. 79th St. (at Ward Parkway) on May 5, 1951, and later added a smoker, then the chuck wagon.
McGonigle said a friend had the food truck for sale at good price and West Bottoms developer Bill Haw Jr. had a parking lot to lease.
“It’s way too early to tell, but we hope to get to the point where it is profitable,” McGonigle said. “We wanted to get out and do something new without making a big investment. We hope to build a regular little clientele like we have on Ward Parkway. Good quality food at a reasonable price that people can pick up quickly.”