Some food trucks are putting down roots while restaurants hit the road

Morsel Compass Mobile Kitchen co-owner Keely Hass is opening Morsel Compass West with Jennifer Blanchard in Crozet’s Piedmont Place, also the future home of Smoked BBQ Co.’s restaurant. Photo by Tom McGovern Morsel Compass Mobile Kitchen co-owner Keely Hass is opening Morsel Compass West with Jennifer Blanchard in Crozet’s Piedmont Place, also the future home of Smoked BBQ Co.’s restaurant. Photo by Tom McGovern

It’s that time of year again—when it’s so hot outside you dream of lounging in the air conditioning. But we know one thing that will motivate you to venture outside: food. Lucky for us, the food truck scene here is exploding with new trucks. We counted more than 15 roaming the city on any given day, and even a few brick-and-mortar places are jumping on the bandwagon and going mobile. But it goes both ways: Some of these freestanding kitchens are becoming so successful, they’re opening permanent locations. And none too soon—we’re sweltering just thinking about how hot it must be in a food truck kitchen in 100-degree heat.

106 Street Food

After working on the culinary scene for two decades, chef Will Cooper has opened his own business. Hitting town about two months ago, 106 Street Food dishes up classic American fare with a dash of Southwest-, Latin- and Asian-inspired flair. Cooper was so gung-ho about opening his own mobile kitchen he built the truck himself. In between his stints at Bella’s Restaurant, the Glass House Kitchen and Rapture, Cooper also worked in construction, and knew enough to put his truck together in four months.

On the menu you’ll find massive, mouthwatering sandwiches, like the 16-hour smoked brisket. But Cooper’s favorite is the pork schnitzel. Inside a hearty pretzel bun lies a deep-fried, panko-crusted pork loin topped with an egg, arugula, white cheddar and lemon caper aioli.

Smoked BBQ Co.

Smoked BBQ Co. is “the little wagon that could.” Owner Justin van der Linde and sous chef Kent Morris started out with a barbecue cart in downtown Charlottesville, but now they’re making the move to open their own restaurants—yes, plural—both in downtown Crozet’s Piedmont Place, a mixed-use building that’s still under construction. Their first-floor eatery, Smoked Kitchen and Tap, will focus on barbecue—ribs, brisket and pulled pork—along with Southern-style sides, and will be family-friendly. The fourth-floor restaurant, The Rooftop, takes advantage of the 50-foot overlook of the Blue Ridge Mountains with an open fire pit and heated terrace. On the menu is woodstone oven pizzas with a Southern twist, accompanied by craft cocktails. “We’ll have probably the best views in town,” van der Linde says.

Even with opening two restaurants simultaneously, the duo plans to keep its food truck, which features hickory-smoked barbecue, slathered with its signature dry rubs and sauces, in rotation.

Morsel Compass

We know and love them for their international-inspired tacos topped with everything from Korean pulled-pork barbecue to chicken souvlaki. But now Jennifer Blanchard and Keely Hass, owners of Morsel Compass Mobile Kitchen, are laying down roots and opening up Morsel Compass West, a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Piedmont Place. “It’s more than tacos,” Blanchard says. “Our menu’s going to be, pardon the compass reference here, all over the map. We get to pretty much do our wildest dreams.”

They’re going to do all the things they couldn’t do before on a food truck: bake, make soups and, what they’re most excited for, breakfast. But for devoted fans of the food truck, there’s no need to worry. “The truck is still going to go out,” assures Blanchard. “[It’s] a huge part that got us to where we are.”

Moe’s Original Bar B Que

Ashleigh and Mike Abrams just celebrated Moe’s Original Bar B Que’s one-year anniversary in Charlottesville, and now they’re joining the food truck craze. The Asheville, North Carolina, natives are featuring “Southern soul food revival” dishes including award-winning Alabama-style pulled pork, St. Louis ribs and homemade sides, in their new mobile kitchen. The truck is making stops at local wineries and breweries such as King Family Vineyards and Starr Hill Brewery.

So far, the Abramses are loving the attention they’re getting thanks to their food truck. “It’s like a rolling billboard,” says Ashleigh. “There’s a lot of potential for us to get our name out and spread the word that we’re over here on Ivy Road. And we wanted to branch out into the community.”

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