Friday, August 19, 2022

Spudee’s will convert to food truck after losing traffic to Surf City’s new bridge

Spudee's will now be on wheels, where owner Chantal Duchaine hopes to chase customers during Surf City's slow winter months.

Spudee's on Roland Avenue before opening nearly two years ago on Topsail Island. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Spudee's)
Spudee’s on Roland Avenue before opening nearly two years ago on Topsail Island. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Spudee’s)

SURF CITY — The recent demolition of the old swing bridge took away Roland Avenue’s role as the entranceway to Topsail Island from mainland Surf City. For Chantal Duchaine, who runs Spudee’s with her husband, that meant their nearly 2-year-old burger shop would see a big drop-off in car traffic.

With her lease set to expire and with real estate around town too expensive, she saw another option that she hopes could actually improve her business in the long run: putting her restaurant on wheels.

“It’s a little shack,” Duchaine said of the current building. “Now it will be a food truck; it’s almost the same size.”

After Spudee’s closed its doors for the final time this Saturday, Duchaine said she plans to pack up and get ready to move operations into a diesel truck outfitted with brand new kitchen equipment. She expects to be up and running by Saturday, May 6 — or by mid-May at the latest depending on the permitting process.

Duchaine’s decision comes after an often heated, months-long food truck debate resulted in a compromise between opposing groups last December. Instead of imposing an outright ban, Town Council passed a new ordinance that set certain restrictions for food trucks to operate within city limits. Two of those restrictions — an annual $500 fee to the town and passing a county health inspection — will be addressed before Spudee’s reopens, Duchaine said.

She is also in talks with various bars and retail stores in Surf City to secure written parking agreements necessary to obtain a permit.

Ultimately, a moveable restaurant will give her the ability to find customers in slow winter months. For now, she has her eyes on festivals around the Triangle area and maybe even the breweries in Wilmington.

“Here, the island in the winter is pretty quiet,” Duchaine said. “I think we’re going to do more business now because we don’t have to stay here and wait [for customers].”

Poutine and fresh Angus burgers

A plate of poutine at Spudee's. A Quebec dish, poutine is made of fries and cheese kurds topped with brown gravy. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Spudee's)
A plate of poutine at Spudee’s. A Quebec dish, poutine is made of fries and cheese kurds topped with brown gravy. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Spudee’s)

Duchaine, who used to run a restaurant in Montreal, moved to Surf City five years ago and saw that no one was serving properly made plates of poutine, what she calls “French Canada’s national dish” — fries and cheese curds topped with a healthy dosing of brown gravy.

“If you’re Canadian you know about poutine. So I said, ‘Well, let’s start this little shop and make it right,'” Duchaine said.

Using cheeses imported from Montreal, Spudee’s serves four different varieties of poutine: one smothered in brown gravy and others in seafood, Italian, and chili gravy.

She said they will also continue serving hamburgers with fresh, unfrozen Angus beef purchased daily from a local vendor and French fries made with hand-cut potatoes. Their menu also includes hot dogs, wings, and seafood burgers (Flanders, salmon, or shrimp), which you can finish off with bacon-sprinkled ice cream.

In the future, Duchaine hopes to expand into franchises — albeit now with food trucks, not the traditional brick-and-mortar she originally hoped for.

“I want to have more than one, I can tell you this,” Duchaine said. 


Mark Darrough can be reached at Mark@Localvoicemedia.com

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