HIGH POINT — It’s big. It’s purple. But it has nothing to do with High Point University.
It’s a bona-fide food truck, possibly High Point’s first.
“We wanted to be the first in High Point,” said Holly Cope, co-owner of Tipsy’z Tavern & Grill and its mobile Truckin’ With Tipsy’s food truck. “High Point seems to be a little behind; we’re on the latter end of trends. Greensboro and Winston-Salem seem to catch on to things before we do. So we wanted to get things started here.”
“There’s a niche in this area that hasn’t been filled, and there seems to be a lot of interest in 20-40-somethings,” said co-owner Chris Blair. “High Point needs something more to keep people here, instead of going to Winston-Salem or Greensboro.”
Cope and Blair believe their truck is the first of its kind in High Point, but they admit that’s open to interpretation of just what constitutes a food truck.
Food trucks are different from the break trucks or lunch trucks of years past that brought prepared, wrapped items to High Point’s factory and business workers. On food trucks, items are cooked and prepared as orders are placed.
They became trendy in West Coast cities such as Portland, Ore., Seattle, Wash., and Los Angeles nearly a decade ago, moved east to cities such as Austin, Texas, and Chicago, then New York and Washington, D.C. In recent years, food trucks have been featured on TV shows, including “The Great Food Truck Race” and “Eat Street,” both of which inspired the Tipsy’z owners.
In large cities, food trucks send out their ever-changing locations via Facebook or Twitter, and customers often are lined up waiting for them.
Because they also must operate the Tipsy’z restaurant at 805 Westchester Drive, Cope and Blair had to alter their truck’s operations. They go to businesses at lunch by appointment on specific days of the week — for instance, Levolor on Premier Drive on Tuesdays — and anyone, not just employees of the specific business, may order. They also post special lunch, night or weekend visits on social media sites.
The menu for the truck is fairly simple, with several salads, hot and cold sandwiches and burgers. The cooks do as much prep work as possible the morning of truck runs, but they cook burgers and hot sandwiches to order and assemble cold sandwiches on the spot. Because they realize employees at lunch have a limited time, they accept orders by text-message in advance, and employees appreciate that feature, they said.
“We start dropping burgers on the grill the moment we pull up, and if we look out and we see a large line, we put on as many as we think we need,” Cope said.
The truck has a propane grill, stand-up refrigerator, a refrigerated sandwich unit, convection toaster and several sinks. It’s powered by a generator and theoretically has air-conditioning, although when the grill gets cranked up, temperatures inside become plenty uncomfortable. The temperature inside the truck reached 110 degrees on one recent July day. Operation of a food truck requires permits from the Guilford County Department of Public Health and a peddler’s license from the city of High Point.
The Tipsy’z owners view the truck, which they bought in October, as a way to increase revenue without opening another restaurant-grill. An unexpected benefit is that the truck has boosted business at the restaurant.
The truck was used in the Washington, D.C., area, and Tipsy’s owners began operating it in April. The cost of food trucks can range from $20,000 to $100,000, and Cope and Blair purchased theirs for a figure on the lower end of the scale, they said. They modified the kitchen and exterior considerably.
They pretty much confine outings to Triad cities and special events. The truck operated during the High Point Cycling Classic last weekend, and it will be at a food truck rodeo at 6 p.m. Friday at the Carolina Theatre in Greensboro. And in the fall, Cope and Blair plan to sponsor a food truck rodeo in the parking lot of the Tipsy’z Tavern location on Westchester.