Eight months after Hurricane Florence flooded the historic building, Lane’s Ferry Dock & Grill is back up and running — as a food truck.
ROCKY POINT — For years the historic storefront sat off Highway 210 just west of the Northeast Cape Fear River in southern Pender County. When Lane’s Ferry owner Kenny McManus heard that his landlord finally decided against restoring the building he had occupied for six years, he saw another way out.
“I said ‘the heck with it.’ I took it and decided to just build a food truck out — so I could run from the storm here on out,” McManus said, laughing.
After his first week operating the food truck, McManus figures he likes life on the road more than running a traditional brick-and-mortar. Plus, he can actually serve more of his burgers, hot dogs, BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, and sausage Philly cheesesteaks than he could before Florence.
“The only thing I had before the storm was one fryer and a 48-inch grill,” McManus said. “Here I got two friers, an oven and stove, a 48-inch grill, a 24-inch char grill, and a building and prep station.”
Where he could make around 30 to 40 burgers at one time, before the storm, McManus estimates he can now make around 50 to 60.
For now, McManus will be serving from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Rocky Point area, setting up at Jerry’s Barber Shop, Tractor Supply, and the Food Lion parking lot (check their Facebook page for daily locations). Eventually, he’ll serve during lunch hours again and roll into Burgaw and Hampstead (he’s been told he can park at Atlantic Seafood). He said his wife is even talking to several breweries in Wilmington.
But his focus will be on Rocky Point, and it seems the people of Rocky Point were ready for Lane’s Ferry to return.
“What I’m doing is selling out every day,” McManus said. “We’re getting hit so hard right now. I carried 50-some burgers the other night, and in two hours I was done.”
Old-fashioned burgers and hot dogs
McManus said he’ll be sticking to the basics after a previous attempt to introduce something new to his clientele failed.
“I tried to serve brioche bread on the truck before, but no one wanted it,” McManus said. “They want old-fashioned burgers. I make my own chili, my own slaw, and I hand-patty my own burgers.”
And that’s the way they like it. Even with a beefed-up kitchen, he still needs more bodies in the kitchen to hit the high demand he’s experienced on his return to Rocky Point.
“You wouldn’t ever think — I had to go to the barbershop lady the other day, Friday morning, and ask her, ‘Did I mess your business up?’ Because we swamped the place,” McManus said.
Help seems to be on the way — he said his former cook at Lane’s Ferry Dock & Grill recently called and showed interest in the job.
Late Monday evening, the new Facebook page for Lane’s Ferry Food Truck showed that McManus would be serving outside Jerry’s Barber Shop (11975 Highway 117) from 5 to 8 p.m. But it warned customers that food may not last until closing time.
“Big Mac serves until the Burgers, Bbq, Sausage Philly’s and Hotdogs runs out,” the post stated. “[A]nd he usually runs out.”
Mark Darrough can be reached at Mark@Localvoicemedia.com