Roaming Restaurants: Food Trucks are the Place to Be

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By Helena Tavares Kennedy

Some wouldn’t think of food trucks as a destination, but these roaming restaurants offer unique experiences that local residents and visitors alike enjoy. Food trucks hit
the mark spot-on as far as a must-do destination. There are many kinds of food trucks in the area at all sorts of interesting locations, but we narrowed the list down to some local favorites.

The Bone BBQ
Most people know about The Bone restaurant in Historic Manassas, but they may not know about its food truck. While The Bone food truck is usually based in Gainesville, you can find it at local breweries, wineries and events every weekend and around town serving weekday lunch. To know where it is exactly, your best bet is to follow the restaurant’s Facebook page at facebook.com/TheBoneBBQ or Instagram @boneBBQ to see where the truck will be stationed next. Posts are often updated on Wednesdays. You can also book the food truck for festivals, private parties, corporate events, fundraisers and more by calling 571-261-0574.

According to The Bone’s Managing Partner Pat Lytle, it was originally his step- brother’s idea to get the food truck. “The food truck started going out to local breweries and wineries in the area,” said Lytle. “We now do a lot of business parties for employees or clients as well as private birthday, graduation or retirement parties. It’s harder during the cold weather season, but we still probably go out 120 times a year—more frequently in spring, summer and fall when there are festivals like the Fall
Jubilee in Historic Manassas.”

As for what type of food you’d find in the food truck, “it’s a more simplified version of what is in the restaurant since we need to serve people quickly,” said Lytle. “We serve pulled pork sandwiches, brisket sandwiches, and sides like coleslaw, potato salad and beans. Pulled pork nachos are the most popular item, as it is hand-held, which makes it easier to eat and great to share with others. In colder weather, the beef brisket chili is usually the most popular item from the food truck.”

The Grilled Reaper’s Mac & Cheese Waffle Cone is a favorite among its customers

The Grilled Reaper
Based in Manassas Park, The Grilled Reaper food truck can be found all around the Prince William region. Owners William Landay, Chris Sellers, and Jon Kibben, who you may know as the guys who created C.J. Finz Raw Bar and Grille in Historic Manassas and the Park Tap Room in Manassas Park, started the food truck in 2016. One of their favorite locations was the concert series this summer at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow. Landay said, “That was an awesome experience that we hope to repeat this year.” They also participate in many local wine, beer and food truck festivals.

As for where to find The Grilled Reaper, Facebook is the best place to go for updates. “Many of the places we go to are by invite from offices and clients, but anytime we are somewhere public, we post about it at Facebook.com/grilledreaper,” said Landay. “I also will be updating the calendar much more in the coming year, so the website grilledreaper.com will also be an option, but Facebook is always a safe bet.”

The Grilled Reaper’s menu is unique for a food truck, however, because the menu isn’t limited to one type of cuisine like those of a lot of other food trucks. “It makes us much more versatile and gives us options for many more events,” said Landay. “In fact, we are willing to cater specific menus for private parties if the client wants something different than we normally do. The one thing we almost always have and is a best seller is our Mac & Cheese Waffle Cone, which is a dessert waffle cone stuffed with five-cheese macaroni and cheese and topped with either BBQ pork or chicken, depending on the event.”

Dave’s Dogs
Woodbridge resident David (aka Dave) Gray opened Dave’s Dogs in 2014 after about 25 years as an auto and truck mechanic and runs this small family-owned business with the help of his family “volunteers,” including his sister, nephew and dad. Gray’s food truck is different than some other food trucks in that there’s a big focus on giving back to the community.

Gray decided early on to have a “not tips” jar and let customers donate instead of tipping as a way for Dave’s Dogs to support worthy causes. “We’ve had events where we donate our ‘not tips’ for propane for the county’s homeless or to a veterans’ group, but in general the donations go to sponsor hard-to-adopt animals at the Prince William County Animal Shelter so they can find new homes by covering adoption fees and the cost of spaying/neutering and other medical needs,” said Gray. “We have found homes for 198 dogs and cats so far in barely three years, and our customers have donated more than $15,000 to help that happen.”

There are several ways for people to find out where the Dave’s Dogs food truck is set up on any given day. Check daily posts at Facebook.com/davesdogsva (which also has photos of shelter animals they are sponsoring), the “locator” map on the website
(davesdogsva.com), and messages through a location alerts system, which anyone can subscribe to by texting @davesdogs to 81010. If you are police/fire/rescue or military personnel, be sure to stop by on Thursdays for the 25 percent discount offered as
a thank-you.

Why does he go to such great lengths to help people find Dave’s Dogs? “If you want to make it in this business, you have got to make your customers realize how important they are to you, and my customers are amazing,” said Gray. “I want everyone who
visits Dave’s Dogs to walk away thinking ‘I love that place.’ It’s not just about having good food; it’s about making people want to come back because they had fun and a great meal. There are a thousand other places to eat—that people choose to come to
Dave’s Dogs is an honor.”

Frenchman
Craving some French food with a Virginia twist? Then check out Manassas-based The Frenchman food truck, which can be found at local breweries and wineries. You can find out where the truck will be next on Facebook.com/FrenchmanFoodTruck
or at frenchmanfoodtruck.com, where you can also check out Chef Johnnie Thomas’s culinary background in French cooking. Catering for private events is available as well.

“Different venues are definitely what keep us all fresh and interested in serving,” said Thomas. “The Virginia Gold Cup Horse Races held on Kentucky Derby Day was my favorite serve this year—the atmosphere, cigars and classy clothes. Besides, where else can I bet on the Derby during work?”

As for the food, Thomas blends his knowledge of French cooking with Virginian and Southern flavors. “Our fries and savory fried chicken sandwiches named ‘Napoleon the
Conqueror’ are our most popular items. The fries are tossed with fresh lemon zest, garlic, salt and parsley and served with roasted garlic aioli. We roast so much garlic!”

Military veteran Rob Pendleton came up with his Stay Cheesy idea and menu during one of his six-hour chemo treatments to beat back stage IV colon cancer.

Stay Cheesy
If you want some serious cheese, check out Stay Cheesy, a specialty grilled cheese food truck based in Woodbridge. After Rob Pendleton, owner/operator of Stay Cheesy, left the military in 2002, he earned a culinary degree and decided in 2015 after being diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer to start a food truck business. “With life-changing news like that, you really start looking at your life and what you have done,” he said. “During one of my six-hour chemo treatments, I came up with the grilled cheese truck idea. I made the whole menu up sitting in a chemo chair without ever tasting one sandwich.”

Pendleton has become a bit of a local celebrity because of Stay Cheesy’s appearance on a Food Network show. “I couldn’t believe it when I got the news from the Prince William County Fair that we were accepted, and that is where we were filmed for the Food Network’s ‘Carnival Eats,’ which aired in March 2017.”

Stay Cheesy’s two most popular items are the Capital and the Mini Monumental cheesy sandwiches. To find out where the truck will will be, visit Facebook.com/staycheesyfoodtruck or look for it at area events.

Two Smooth Dudes
A lover of smoothies, Max Bawarski decided to start a food truck in 2014 with his friend, Hugh Ickrath, to sell them. They have now expanded to include gourmet tater tots, wraps and salads.

Two Smooth Dudes can be found at area festivals, breweries, wineries and weddings and are often booked every weekend throughout the year, in addition to catering events throughout the work week. They can often be found at The Farm Brewery in
Haymarket, Old Bust Head Brewery in Warrenton, The Winery at Bull Run in Centreville, and Old 690 Brewery in Purcellville. To keep track of Two Smooth Dudes’ location, check Facebook.com/twosmoothdudes or stay tuned for an updated event
calendar at twosmoothdudes.com.

“Our most popular items are the Maryland Crab tater tots and buffalo chicken tater tots,” said Bawarski. “The Maryland Crab tots are [made up of]Phillips crab meat in a cream of crab soup, Old Bay Seasoning, topped with a remoulade sauce, and served
over tater tots. The buffalo chicken tater tots include shredded chicken and mild buffalo sauce, topped with bleu cheese or ranch dressing, and served over tater tots.”

Wherever in the region you live, keep your eyes and noses peeled as there are plenty of food trucks to visit where you can experience a wide array of flavors, stories and atmospheres.

Helena Tavares Kennedy ([email protected]) is a longtime Prince William County resident and freelance writer and communications consultant at htkmarketingservices.com and livinggreendaybyday.com.

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