The food truck craze has hit the High Country with options aplenty, from tacos to Japanese food to seafood.
The trend that is common at fairs and festivals has become a regular sight in parking lots and streets throughout the United States. It’s not just the distinctive appeal of the trucks that keep them in high demand, but it’s the quality of food that is the real surprise.
“It’s a unique setting for food,” said Isaac Church, food truck enthusiast and graduate student at Appalachian State University. “It’s fast food, but not the pre-assembled frozen stuff you get at chain fast food restaurants.”
Church hasn’t only hit all of the food trucks in Boone, but he’s experienced things at a whole new level, visiting several trucks throughout the states, and even more during his travels outside of the country.
“I have no idea how many I’ve been too — enough that I don’t bother keeping up with them anymore,” he said.
It takes time and dedication to operate a truck, something that the owners of the newest food truck in Boone have experienced firsthand.
Captain Jim’s Seafood, a family-owned/operated business, opened about two months ago, but it took a lot of hard work to get up and running.
“The health department was pretty strict,” said Keri Sbrizzi of Captain Jim’s. “We have a commissary that’s in Banner Elk because you need one — that’s Sorrentos. We had to deal with the Avery health department and Boone. It took almost nine months to really get this going. After a lot of hard work and altercations, we are fine.”
The Sbrizzi family, made up of James Sr., James Jr. and Keri, are originally from Connecticut where their food truck first began.
“We had a seafood truck back in Connecticut and we did all the big state fairs,” said Sbrizzi. “We moved here in 2003, and it was stagnant for a while, then we decided to open it up. Seafood is what’s pretty popular back in Connecticut and Maine, so our food is higher end and it’s all fresh.”
Captain Jim’s is fulfilling its job of bringing a little taste of New England culture to the High Country.
“The lobster rolls are excellent and very reasonably priced,” said Church. “I came to love hot lobster rolls when I was in Maine this summer, so it’s nice to have a place to get some authentic New England seafood.”
“It’s good because a lot of southerners have never had lobster rolls, so people come here and see what it is,” said Sbrizzi. “They’re experiencing it for the first time.”
Not only do food trucks bring new flavors to the Southern Appalachian mountains, but they bring new economic and cultural opportunities as well.
Each food truck in the area specializes in culturally renowned food, something Sbrizzi hopes will continue to expand.
“We should have a little piece of land dedicated to just food trucks,” she said. “It could be a little area, like a food truck park. We’re hoping to open another one next year to do philly cheesesteaks and sausage with peppers and onions and all of that.”
“I’m all for small businesses,” said Church. “Anything that boosts the local economy, no matter how seemingly small, is good.”