Wilmington, NC: Local Food Truck Scene Continues to Evolve

Poor Piggy's owner Ed Coulbourn throws a rack of ribs on the grill shortly after opening in 2011.

By Paul Stephen | StarNewsOnline.com

Poor Piggy's owner Ed Coulbourn throws a rack of ribs on the grill shortly after opening in 2011.
Poor Piggy’s owner Ed Coulbourn throws a rack of ribs on the grill shortly after opening in 2011.

Watching Wilmington’s food truck scene evolve is a lesson in the modern business place. Cutthroat competition and secrecy are giving way to collaboration and transparency, a phenomenon that couldn’t be more evident in the latest move by Poor Piggy’s owner Ed Coulbourn III.

Unloading a moving truck on a rainy Thursday afternoon, Coulbourn could be found organizing his gear in the long vacant space at 5424 Oldeander Dr. once occupied by Dinner a Go-Go. The facility will be redubbed Poor Piggy’s Kitchen, and serve as a commissary for a number of area food truck operators.

Teaming with James Smith of The Patty Wagon and a man with perhaps the most distinguished sounding name in mobile cuisine, William Blount Laughinghouse III of the soon-to-open Blount’s Street BistroCoulbourn says the space will allow all of their businesses to better serve their customers. “We’re thrilled, now we can do three times or four times what we were able to do before,” Coulbourn said.

The kitchen won’t be open to the public, but the facility will allow Coulbourn to expand his offerings into traditional catering, as well as create a central location for his food to be prepared. He had been previously using the kitchen at Fibbers Public House, but his needs outgrew the space.

Coulbourn says much of the last few months have been spent scrubbing, outfitting and prepping the now pristine spot. Due to health department laws the kitchen may only be occupied by one operator at a time, and they must keep all of their food in separately locked refrigerators. And, interestingly, food may not be passed directly from truck to truck. The new space gives Coulbourn a convenient location to stock both of his popular barbecue vehicles.The kitchen has room for a fourth user, but due to scheduling conflicts of the three lunchtime businesses already using it, Coulbourn says someone keeping a bakers’ hours would be a perfect fit to round out the operation.

Laughinghouse, who hopes to roll out for service by early March at the latest, says the commissary played a roll in his decision to launch a truck himself. With business partner Paul Kern, the two met while attending the Cape Fear Community College culinary program, Laughinghouse plans to bring a unique experience to mobile dining in the area. “We’re doing plays off of international regional food, but we’re making a point not to mimic anything,” he said.

Blount’s Street Bistro will angle to serve lunch crowd diners on a tight timeframe with limited options in their immediate area, said Laughinghouse. The offerings will range from Jamaican beef pockets to deep fried risotto balls called arancini laced with serrano chiles and country ham. He’ll also particularly excited to be bringing a staple from his college days at Ole Miss, chicken on a stick, to area foodies. To keep up with their progress, follow them on Facebook or Twitter.