A Food Truck Feast
The country’s biggest culinary trend, food trucks, has rolled into Columbia. Three trucks, with trained staffs, commissary kitchens and business licenses, are redefining the on-the-go lunch in parking lots across Columbia. Line up for a taste.
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Mizzou Hot Dogs
Four years ago, Tim Mallory couldn’t sell a hot dog cart.
“I would buy and sell little items to make a profit, and I couldn’t sell this hot dog cart,” he recalls. “My niece and daughter, who both went to MU, suggested that I sell hot dogs outside of bars.”
Gradually, one hot dog cart became two, and Mizzou Hot Dogs became a Wednesday-night staple at Fieldhouse and a must-have for MU students heading out of Middlebush Hall on the corner of University Avenue and Ninth Street.
More than 80 percent of Mizzou Hot Dog’s business comes from college students, but Mallory says that daytime loyal local customers kept his business alive during the summer. Mizzou Hot Dogs’ 500-plus Twitter followers keep tabs on where the Columbia native is going to be and when.
“Believe it or not, the daytime is much more successful than the night,” Mallory says. “I can get lines 20 to 30 people at Middlebush sometimes during the day.”
Kosher hot dogs combined with low prices keep college students and the bar crowd coming back. During the day, Mallory has a special meal for cost-conscious college students: a hot dog, bag of chips and bottle of soda for a total cost of $3. For the cashless, Mallory made credit card payment an option two years ago.
To serve the bar crowd, Mallory arrives at 9 p.m. and fires up the grill. He serves $4 bratwursts, $4 nachos and his signature $3 dogs, but skips the beverage sales outside of Quinton’s. His nights don’t usually end until 2 a.m.
“I can have a night when I sell 25; I can have a night when I sell 100,” says Mallory. “But there’s so much to this business; it’s not as easy as it sounds.”
Owner: Tim Mallory
Rolling since September 2008
Hours: Check social media
Most often found at: Fieldhouse, Middlebush Hall
Credit cards: Yes
When Bill Ramm was in high school, good hot dogs were only a nine-minute train ride away — to New York City, that is, with friends during lunch hour. Little did Ramm know, he would later open a hot dog cart of his own when those Jersey-style hot dogs were nowhere to be found.
Despite his childhood in New Jersey and five-year Marine Corps stint in California, Ramm chose to open his cart between the coasts in Columbia. Originally coming to the city because his father-in-law is the director of landscaping for the University of Missouri, Ramm decided New Jersey-style hot dogs would bring something new to the Midwestern town.
“Selling hot dogs is not the most profitable thing I suppose, but it’s something I grew up liking and I love what I sell,” Ramm says.
Ramm differentiates his hot dogs from the others sold in Columbia by the hickory-smoked taste, characteristic of those sold on the East Coast. Ramm also offers an abundance of toppings — more than 10, including bright red onion sauce and a homemade Italian pepper mixture, as well as pico de gallo when in season.
Patrons can spot the blue and yellow umbrella of Jersey Dogs on the northeast corner of Broadway and Ninth Street; Ramm likes the consistency of staying at the same downtown spot so customers can count on him.
Jersey Dogs offers two meal options: two hot dogs, one drink and one bag of chips for $5, or one hot dog, one drink and one bag of chips for $3.
Owner: Bill Ramm
On the road since October 2011
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Friday
Most often found at: Broadway and Ninth Street
Credit Cards: Yes
Buck’s Ice Cream Place
Buck’s Ice Cream trucks are making Mizzou fans scream for ice cream. In the sweltering heat, Buck’s famous ice cream flavors are a welcome treat for students, faculty and visitors.
Gelsey Minnick, a student worker at Buck’s, says the trucks are a great way to increase Buck’s visibility on the University of Missouri campus. She says many people don’t want to make the trek to east campus to visit the actual ice cream store, and some don’t even know Buck’s is there.
“The trucks bring Buck’s to the rest of campus,” she says.
The trucks are relatively small, but they carry 10 delicious flavors, from the popular Tiger Stripe ice cream, and cookies and cream, to lesser-known black walnut and Frozen Indulgence. This year’s sweltering temperatures have made tangerine sherbet a popular flavor, Minnick says, because it’s light and refreshing.
Customers can purchase a scoop of any flavor for $1.75; Tiger Stripe lovers can purchase a quart of the school-spirited ice cream for $3.75 and a half-gallon for $6.25. Bottled drinks are also available for purchase.
Minnick says Buck’s is eager to branch out from its usual campus spots around Jesse Hall and Lowry Mall, although the trucks aren’t allowed off campus. Get location updates via Twitter, and keep an eye out on home football game days.
"It’ll be a great to get the Tigers fans all rowdied up at tailgate,” Minnick says.
Owner: MU College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources
On the road since June 2012
On the Web: bucks.missouri.edu
Hours: Noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday
Most often found at: Lowry Mall, Jesse Hall
Credit cards: No