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The Food Truck Craze

Not too long ago, I associated food trucks with factory made food that had been hauled around the city for hours. To me, these “Roach Coaches” were synonymous with pale, bland-tasting gas-station sandwiches on stale white bread.

Turns out, I’m the last to know about the food truck craze. Raleigh, Portland, Nashville, NYC, Austin and more are booming with snappy, eye-catching trucks offering everything from coriander braised duck to Asian barbecue, all without a hint of the cellophane packaged sandwiches.

Virginia Cofer of Petunia’s fame was among the first to offer mouth-watering, to¬ódie-for grilled fish tacos from a silver airstream. Parked regularly on Signal Mountain Road, she serves everything from smoked chicken quesadillas to juicy hamburgers.

When chef Nathan Flynt moved here from Boston four years ago, he wanted to open a restaurant, but started with his food truck, Famous Naters, first. “Food Trucks are such a hot trend all over the country, and it gives me a chance to run a business on a small scale,” he says. “Cooking is one thing, but running a business is another ball of wax.”

Nathan found the Spring Board class offered at Create Here invaluable. “Without them, I’d still be in the planning stage. They provided so much information to all different kinds of people, in different stages of business.”

Nathan says the city of Chattanooga was incredibly helpful as well. He didn’t make a move without checking with the city first, and they patiently guided him through a maze of taxes and codes and permits.

He bought a 1983 Chevy rescue vehicle on eBay and he and his father built out a kitchen inside according to the health code. Complete with an exhaust system, fire system, various water tanks, refrigeration and more, Famous Naters now serves up incredible sandwiches using local products as much as possible. His ‘slow food from a truck’ is anything but factory made. Think smoked turkey piled high on a Neidlovs bun, with homegrown tomatoes and brie….. And these sandwiches are huge!

A friendly guy with a sunny personality, Nathan is not competitive with other newcomers in the food truck craze. “I love it! We are always sampling each others delicacies. The more the merrier, and when we are all parked in the same spot, it’s more than just an interesting food truck. It’s a phenomenon!”

Ever the go-to city, Chattanooga is welcoming the food truck trend with open arms. “The city has been so supportive and encouraging for the food trucks. Really, we’re not doing anything special, but the city is,” Nathan says.