Farm fresh food is in demand, and two local food trucks are putting it on wheels.
Crème of the Crop and Dine and Dash seemed to have appeared around the same time, drawing Kankakee County into a nationwide phenomenon that has become synonymous with bourgeois convenience.
"I've seen the popular food trucks in Chicago, California and Denver, and I've been wanting to do this for years," said Grant Glessner, 40, who runs Dine and Dash with his wife, Ronda. They were co-owners of the former Twig & Barry's, a popular spot in Bourbonnais that closed last year.
"I was lucky to have family in Ohio that helped me buy this one," Grant said. "We did some upgrades to comply with Illinois laws. And then we went out to find some local suppliers for fresh, natural foods."
Meanwhile, Ryan Jackson, of Manteno, and Suzanne Nighswander, of Limestone, rolled out their new venture in May and have been a mainstay at the weekly farmers markets in Kankakee and Manteno.
"Sometimes we wanted to do events that didn't have a well-equipped kitchen nearby," Nighswander said. "Ryan had always liked the idea of a food truck, so we looked into what we needed to make it happen."
The pair found a Wonder Bread truck, purchased new cooking equipment and created Crème of the Crop.
"Since we've started, the social media response has been tremendous," Nighswander said. "Every event we go to now has a bunch of people saying they saw us on Facebook and had to make the trip."
Though the idea of serving food from a vehicle dates back to the 19th century when cowboys and urban factory workers frequented lunch wagons, a mobile kitchen serving up the kind of food you'd expect from a small bistro is relatively new.
You might remember the controversy surrounding the trucks in Chicago several years ago when traditional restaurant owners complained that they would eat into their business. A compromise was struck, and today food truck vendors are restricted by where and for how long they can work.
There are an estimated 15,000 trucks across the country with key cities including Miami, Los Angeles, Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C.
Mary Melvin, of Kankakee, was visiting one of the trucks last week and admitted she had already become a repeat customer. "We've been here every day for four days," she said.
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