July 14 2022 – Food trucks, a smaller, more mobile restaurant, made waves across the country, and Florence was beginning to feel its presence. While cities like Portland have been known for their abundance of food trucks and food trucks, many of which are clustered into a small area, providing customers with food options from all over the world, the phenomenon was relatively unknown around Florence until recently.
However, over the past couple of years, more food trucks have started to establish themselves all over the city. Hukilau Restaurant, now a brick-and-mortar restaurant, started as a food truck, and moved to its current location after six successful years.
While some owners may see the smaller production of operating food trucks as a stepping stone to a more traditional restaurant space, others prefer the environment, and hope to create their own food truck portfolio.
For the first iteration of a multipart string, the . file ciuslav news Speak with the owners and team members of Three Food Trucks across Florence and Mapleton, to understand their motivations and what their truck has to offer.
The Game Thyme Food Truck is located in the parking lot of the Mini Pet Mart, across from the Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue Building.
Game Thyme opened in March 2020 by owner Matthew Donnelly and serves customers in Florence every Wednesday through Sunday from 11am-5pm
“We have a whole planet of great flavors,” Donnelly said. “I like to sort of take all of those flavors, put them on and try to make some standout foods.”
The food truck often spins through specials but has a basic menu. Currently, Game Thyme serves mushroom tempura-covered oysters, grown by a small local farm, in both tacos and scrambled mushroom burgers. Every now and then, Donnelly will bring kimchi fries back to the menu: French fries topped with coconut curry chicken or Korean tofu with kimchi and sauces.
The avocado tempura taco is a staple that will always be on the menu, according to a member of the Game Thyme team. Other flavors on the menu include coconut curry chicken, Spanish shrimp, Korean pork belly, and Cuban skirt steak.
Donnelly has been in the kitchen since he was a child, inspired by such notable chefs as Martin Jan and Elton Brown.
“Instead of going out in the summer to play with my friends, I’d take professional cooking classes,” he said.
For him, working through a food truck rather than a brick-and-mortar restaurant provides a one-on-one experience with customers that he would otherwise miss.
“I have the window wide open,” Donnelly said. “People can look and see what I’m doing. We can talk. We can build a good relationship with the community this way.”
Without the overhead costs of a traditional restaurant, he added, the food cart is a “more financially viable way of doing things” as well.
Opening the food truck right at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic caused some bumps in the road, too. Donnelly bought the food truck four days before the Lane County shutdown. Instead of waiting for the county to open up again for the proper licensing, he went north to Lincoln City.
“They got me to work right away,” Donnelly said. “They came out on Sunday, in fact, to get a license.”
Game Thyme succeeded in Lincoln City in the summer, and returned to Florence when the Governor opened things up again.
“We’ve been criticizing ever since,” he said.
For the future of Game Thyme, Donnelly is renting a building in the parking lot where he currently works. He plans to turn it into a beer garden and food truck booth, and invites food trucks to park across the county, including a pizza truck from Medford. The food truck booth will provide plenty of variety in food with a variety of options in a central space.
Unlike the parking lot now, plans include on-site seating and propane heat, for cold weather, covered with large tents.
Donnelly also hopes to host live music, if the city allows it.
“I think it would be unbelievable,” he said.
For more information, Game Thyme Food Truck is most active on its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/gamethyme, and can be accessed at gamethymeusa.com.
In 2015, the daughter of Chris and Carol Peterson needed a summer job. The family, who lived in Alaska at the time, began making pastries in their kitchen at home. Chris made a biscuit cart, and every day during the summer of 2015, they would drive the cart into downtown Juneau and sell pastries.
It was a success and quickly became a family affair.
The town of Juneau loved Peterson’s pastries so much that it overpowered her. They ordered the food truck they use today from a factory in Portland and transported the biscuit making process from their home.
Since then, they have perfected the art of making pretzel biscuits.
Before visiting Peterson’s food truck, most people’s pretzels experience included two types: salted and unsalted. The Peterson family already has “regular” pretzels, but they also have a lot more.
There are pastries that are almost a complete meal in themselves, such as cheese steak or meat lovers. There is meat wrapped in pretzels such as All Beef Polish Sausage Pretzel Dog. There’s even desert pastries like the Deluxe Smortzel, which is a salty bite topped with peanut butter, chocolate, and marshmallows. Combine these options with all of their sauce options and the possibilities are nearly endless.
Although the side of the truck says “Handmade Alaskan Soft Pretzels” Peterson’s Pretzels have not yet served “Alaskan Pretzel” but there is hope for the future.
“We thought we’d get some reindeer hot dogs,” Chris said. “Those are going to be more or less Alaska, right?”
Since April, when the Petersons moved their operation to Florence, they’ve tried various locations around the city—near the boardwalk in the historic Old Town and at events at Florence Golf Links—but they can currently be found at 37th Street and Highway 101, in the Republic parking lot. Tan. If you’re not where you’d expect, just look for the big red food truck.
Peterson’s Pretzels is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, except on Mondays and Tuesdays. For more information, go to www.petersonspretzels.com.
Not all of the food trucks that dot the area are in Florence. The upriver community also gained an excellent new dining option when Phat Sherburt opened a few months ago in Mapleton.
This new food truck is the brainchild of friends Bob Russell, Patrick and Darla Price. Patrick and especially Bob have spent a lot of time working in and around kitchens during their lives.
Bob was an executive chef at the Eugene Country Club, he cooked for Busters at Cottage Grove and had his own restaurant on a golf course near Portland. But this is his first food truck experience.
Prices raised their family’s farms in Montana, and at various times in his life, Patrick found himself working in restaurants as a second job.
“Bob and I just sat around and talked about doing something about food,” Patrick said.
They started out selling smoked chicken in partnership with Gingerbread Village and found enough success that they decided they could do it on their own.
Buy a food truck. Found a place next to Mapleton Food Share. Darla did the unique decorating and Bob and Patrick got to cook.
Phat Sherburt’s has all kinds of food truck fare.
They have sliders of all kinds: regular burgers, philly beef, fajitas and ham, all served with chips and a house pasta salad. They have rice bowls, nachos and homemade mac and cheese. For hot summer days, they have your standard choice of soft drinks along with mango, strawberry and lemonade. Yes, they also have sorbets for dessert.
However, as Patrick and Bob often have to explain to their clients, the “Sharport” in the name does not refer to the frozen dessert, but rather the name of the Bryce family dog, a half-chocolate Lab/half-walking dog.
It’s hard to miss a visit to Phat Sherburt, West Mapleton Food Share at 10718 Highway 101 in Mapleton. The food truck is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
To pre-order, call 406-425-1752. For more information, visit Fat Shareport’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Phat-Sherburts-107967281867745.
Look for Part 2 in a future release of ciuslav news To cover Knuckle Sammich and The Hangry Habanero.