I start most workday mornings with an Internet news search using the key word “restaurants.” Monday’s top stories involved food trucks.
Suddenly, the trucks are everywhere.
Food trucks even have their own awards program. Last weekend, the Street Vendor Project, part of New York City’s Urban Justice Center, gave Vendy Awards to Big Apple food trucks and a few New Jersey trucks.
Minutes after viewing those stories, I got the scoop on Wilmington’s latest food truck: The Cheesy Banker, No. 4 to hit the road here in the past couple of months and the second to feature grilled cheese.
Classic cheddar grilled cheese on Texas toast tops the menu, but diners can try macaroni and cheese grilled cheese with slow-roasted Boston butt or a pimento cheeseburger with caramelized onions.
Other sandwiches include white meat chicken salad with fresh grapes, dried cherries and walnuts in a tomato basil wrap. Chicken tortilla soup is available, too.
The Cheesy Banker debuts Oct. 14, when it will attend a vendor day at PPD. The truck will be at different locations around the Cape Fear region and is available for private events. A website is under development. The Cheesy Banker is on Facebook and Twitter.
Owner Carter McKaughan said he wants to supply the truck with locally made bread and feature the music of area bands on The Cheesy Banker’s sound system.
McKaughan is a retired banker who likes to eat and loves food trucks.
You can date mobile food carts to 19th century chuck wagons, but they’ve taken off in a big way over the past few years.
With America’s economy battered, food trucks give entrepreneurs a chance to enter the restaurant business at a lower investment cost, McKaughan said. For recession-weary consumers, the trucks mean bargain meals, he added.
Food trucks aren’t easy to launch, McKaughan emphasized.
County health departments enforce strict sanitation rules. In New Hanover County, food trucks must partner with a restaurant, where trucks may clean up and store food.
McKaughan’s research showed grilled cheese trucks are most popular. Chef Irving Vasquez, who cooks for Holy Grounds coffee shop, 2841 Carolina Beach Road, will helm The Cheesy Banker’s kitchen, McKaughan said.
How food trucks meld with downtown restaurants remains to be seen. Certainly, people who live on downtown’s fringes would appreciate a restaurant rolling into their neighborhoods, especially on North Fourth Street.
After a residential construction renaissance brought a few eateries into the area in 2007, only one, Big Thai, remains. But owners have announced they will close the 1001 N. 4th St. Thai restaurant later this year.