SURF CITY — A new food truck is cruising the coast of Pender County.
Southern Roots Grille wasn’t expecting to open the weekend of October 19-20, but when another food vendor dropped out of the annual Autumn with Topsail festival, Jeff Jones was happy to fill in on a moment’s notice.
Shortly after Jones opened the Holly Ridge restaurant in the summer of 2018, he began talking to the Onslow County health department to see how much trouble it would be to open a commissary at the restaurant. As long as it didn’t stray too far from the menu — while fulfilling other basic requirements — he was told he could make it happen.
He got everything approved by a Friday afternoon, including the $500 permit now required to operate a food truck in Surf City, and was up and running at the festival the next morning. He said he also keeps Pender County officials well aware of where his truck is operating.
Asked to describe what he calls his “rolling kitchen on wheels,” Jones only needed a word to do so.
“Whimsical,” he said. “And we’re a southern restaurant — we like to keep things simple.”
Jones grew up in Teachey, just north of the Pender County line, and his family loved cooking southern dishes.
“I learned to cook watching my daddy at the Hunt Club,” Jones wrote on his restaurant’s menu. “He always said, ‘Feed them a good meal at a decent price, they’ll keep coming back.'”
The food truck’s signature dish has been the Hot Wings plate: “A little bit of pork, a little bit of rib bone. It looks like a chicken wing,” Jones said.
Other favorites include the foot-long hot dog, chicken salad, BBQ sandwiches, and apple pie nachos. The menu is a simplified version of the restaurant’s menu and isn’t set in stone, according to Jones. If it’s cold outside, for instance, he may start serving chili, soup, or chicken and pastry.
The trick is to keep operations simple and avoid overloading one employee in the cooking line with too much, especially in such confined space, Jones said.
Jones said he will focus on Surf City and Hampstead (Topsail Beach does not allow food trucks).
Once the holiday season passes, Southern Roots Grille will begin serving outside Gilligan’s bar in Surf City every other Monday night for their ‘Dollar Domestics’ special.
Stay tuned to the food truck’s Facebook page to see where they will be serving, and be sure to keep up with Port City Daily’s ‘Food truck tracker’ every Monday.
Mark Darrough can be reached at Mark@Localvoicemedia.com