Smack Shack. World Street Kitchen. Hola Arepa. Hot Indian Foods. Vellee Deli. O’Cheeze. Green + the Grain. Cafe Racer. Sassy Spoon. Chef Shack Ranch. What these Twin Cities restaurants have in common is that they all got their starts as food trucks.
The latest to pledge this culinary fraternity is R.A. MacSammy’s.
Chef/owner Kevin Huyck is setting up shop at 735 E. 48th St., in the small storefront that was most recently (and briefly) home to Sum Dem Korean Barbeque. Huyck said that when his counter-service operation debuts in late July, the doors will be open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
The plan is to continue the Southern-style cooking that Huyck focuses on in the truck: his signature mac-and-cheese, in all its variations, along with a meat-and-three option that will call upon a rotating selection of proteins (pulled pork, smoked brisket, roast chicken) and side dishes. One strategy will be offering family-style portions, “So people can grab stuff and take it home,” said Huyck.
He’s also pondering barbecue spaghetti.
“I’ve found it on a number of menus down South,” said Huyck, a Missouri native. “We do a lot of Sloppy Joes on the truck, and I found a recipe for barbecue spaghetti that’s very similar to my Sloppy Joes. It’s spaghetti, the sauce – without the meat – and then pulled pork, or smoked brisket, or chicken.”
The brick-and-mortar location has been in the works for a long time, and over the past two and a half years, Huyck has scrutinized more than 25 possibilities during his search for a turn-key property.
“It’s not easy to find a second-generation restaurant space, that’s for sure,” he said.
He ultimately landed in the commercial district at 48th and Chicago, a food nexus that's home to Turtle Bread Co., Pumphouse Creamery, Bagu Sushi & Thai, Sovereign Grounds, Town Hall Tap and a soon-to-open branch of St. Paul’s El Burrito Mercado.
“I love the neighborhood,” he said. “As small as the place is – I’m hoping I can get 20 seats in there, with maybe a few tables outside, when it’s warm -- I think it’s going to rely heavily on takeout.”
Once the restaurant opens, Huyck plans to keep the truck in rotation.
“We’ll be able to do our prep in our own kitchen,” he said, noting that he currently cooks at City Food Studio, a shared commercial kitchen that's located 10 blocks to the north of his soon-to-open restaurant. “Now I’ll be able to prep when I want to, and not when there’s time available. Doing that on my own schedule is going to be nice.”
The truck debuted in January 2012, making it an early fixture on the Twin Cities street-food scene. Huyck, who has 25 years experience in the food service industry, got behind the wheel after his chef position at a senior living facility was eliminated.
“It was a tough job market, and I managed to convince my parents to help me create my own job,” he said. "It's basically a six-month revenue stream, so the winters can be a little lean. Which is why I’ve been looking for a space for so long.”
Until the restaurant opens, it’s easy to find Huyck’s bright yellow truck; just track its whereabouts on Twitter.
“We’re all over,” he said. "We join the insanity that is downtown Minneapolis, although I don’t want to get started on that subject, because I’ll rant about it for an hour. We also love going to the State Capitol, and we have a few breweries that we like. Every day when you open the window, there’s a different view. That’s the joy of a food truck.”