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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Guests visit a variety of trucks during Food Truck Thursday at ted's market on Coldwater Road.

  • Guests check out the King Arthur Trolley which, according to one die-hard fan, makes great steak nachos.

  • Randy Smith, right, enjoys food from Who Cut the Cheese? with friend Tim Hartwig.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Who Cut the Cheese? food truck makes upscale grilled cheese sandwiches like the “Mama Mia.”

Wednesday, August 30, 2017 1:00 am

Fans keep on truckin'

Their love of unique food has created a community of sorts

Kimberly Dupps Truesdell | For The Journal Gazette

Chris Slyby would like to be clear. He did not stop at the King Arthur's Trolley food truck while his wife was in labor with their third child.

The story is almost as much lore as the knight for whom the truck is named. But as with many legends, there is a kernel of truth

“Our third child, The Dom, was already born and I stopped at King Arthur's to get my favorite treat before heading back to the hospital,” Slyby says.

The treat? Steak nachos.

Steak nachos might not seem like it would rise to the status of a treat but for those who encounter some of the area's food truck fans, they'll find that the allure of these kitchens on mobile wheels is much more than an item on a menu.

Jennifer Romano was first attracted to the Ragin' Cajun food truck because it offered New Orleans fare. The Columbia City woman had family in the Louisiana city and had fallen for the food when she visited.

“It's just ... different ... and not like anything else around here really,” she says of New Orleans cuisine. “When I heard they were doing jambalaya, catfish, po'boys ... well, we had to check it out.”

While Slyby will order the steak nachos (with extra peppers) more often than not from King Arthur's – “The combination of flavors in the dish is out of this world,” he says – Romano enjoys sampling dishes from across the menu. Her favorites are a toss-up between the fried catfish, fried shrimp and jambalaya. She tries to visit the truck with others so that each person gets a different item to share.

“As much as I enjoy the food, I enjoy visiting with John Maxwell and his wife. We've come to know them over the years through the food truck window,” Romano says. “The food, the Maxwells – you look forward to it and you seek them out when you can. I think it's kind of funny they know me as 'Jennifer from Columbia City!'”

Lori Kobel, who operates the food truck Who Cut the Cheese?, has known Randy Smith since she owned Arnold's Drive-In in Decatur. When she decided to go from a brick-and-mortar kitchen to one on wheels, Smith was one of her first customers.

“I was there the very first day,” he says proudly.

Smith, who was first introduced to food trucks more than a decade ago in bigger cities such as Dallas and St. Louis, now finds himself at the truck three times a week and, at times, four out of seven days.

During the summer, he'll stop by during Lunch on the Plaza on Thursdays and over the weekend when trucks are doing special events.

Every other week or so, he will stop by ted's market on Thursday nights, which is when Slyby often hits up King Arthur's.

Smith, who says that art of the appeal of the food truck is that the menus are different, will often try a new item each time he visits. Lately, he has enjoyed the Strawberry Fields sandwich, which has strawberries, balsamic glaze and Brie.

But his staple? The grilled cheese with bacon.

“They evolve around those signature items and try different things,” Smith says. “It keeps you enthusiastic to go back the next time.”

Kobel enjoys the enthusiasm her customers show for the food and has been known to take a tip or two from them.

Virgil Bowers almost chuckles when he talks about his love for Who Cut the Cheese? truck. It's not necessarily funny but almost a shyness when he shares that he helped name one of the sandwiches.

Made with fennel pork, bacon jam, bacon, grilled onions and smoked gouda, the Porkasm is, well, an explosion of flavor.

And though he helped come up with the title, Bowers isn't one to get stuck on a sandwich. The Decatur man likes to try different menu items when he is able to visit the truck, which is about three to four times a month.

While some food truck fans stop at different trucks, Bowers is loyal to what he calls the “most expensive cheese sandwiches in Fort Wayne.”

“I'm kind of amazed,” Bowers says. “Ten years ago, there were three or four food trucks going around doing lunches at factories or constructions. It's kind of exploded.

“I think people just like to get out and meet other people in that atmosphere.”