Boswell Scott and his Fill Belly’s food truck, which operated in an old Chevrolet P30, cruised around Boston in all kinds of weather last winter. He decided to put the truck in park and open a bricks-and-mortar establishment of the same name.
Fill Belly’s, which specializes in comfort food standards such as chicken and waffles, will no longer be a mobile operation. The restaurant, which has 19 seats, is located in a storefront in Jamaica Plain, where Scott also lives. Fill Belly’s menu includes a weekly rotation of regional offerings, such as Italian pastas or Asian dishes, as well as variations on items from the truck, including his famous empanadas, called “Bosilitos,’’ and mac ’n’ soul casserole, a variation of mac and cheese, with sweet potatoes and collard greens.
Scott and his former partner, Derek Alcindor, faced many obstacles when they were on the road. In addition to a decline in business during the worst of the cold weather, another vehicle crashed into the side of the Chevy while it was parked on Washington Street in Jamaica Plain one night. “And then we were getting pounded by snow, so it was hard to park,’’ Scott says. “It’s an old truck. It’s a 1986 truck. It had its problems already, so it was a big hassle maneuvering it. It was a good product that we were able to put out the summer before, so I figured we can try to get it into a restaurant.’’
A professionally trained chef, Scott, 27, began to scout locations in his own neighborhood on nightly walks. When the space at 3381 Washington St., which formerly housed a halal restaurant, was available in April, he made a move.
“I didn’t have enough money to put down on it at the time. I just had enough money to be like, ‘OK, I’m very interested,’ ’’ says Scott. He managed to raise enough money to get the landlord to take the “For Rent’’ sign out of the window. “I knew somebody was going to try to get it fast, so I stuck my neck out there.’’
Eventually, Scott put a financial package together and he and his cousin, Vinity Mitchell, 28, also of Jamaica Plain, started cleaning and redesigning the small space. Until early June, Scott, who goes by the name “Chef Bos,’’ could only do renovations after he came home from his full-time job at the Cambridge School of Weston, where he worked in food service.
Scott picked up his love of cooking from his Jamaican father, an auto body mechanic, while growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y. But the beginning of a culinary career came when Scott was a defensive end for the semi-pro Boston Panthers football team from 2004 to 2007. At practice, he would serve chicken and beef empanadas, which his teammates dubbed “Bosilitos.’’
“Then I started seeing myself making more money doing that twice a week than on the team,’’ he says. He returned to New York after leaving the team to attend the Institute of Culinary Education.
He had a unique motivation to succeed. He had purchased the food truck before he went to school, knowing that he needed the proper culinary skills to run a business.
The downside of a storefront is that Scott can no longer change locations if business is slow. But he feels comfortable in the new space and cherishes the kitchen area.
“I know that people are going to come and people are going to try it,’’ he says. “I’m not really nervous about it. I’ll get nervous when I don’t see a customer.’’