First the bad news: Lovers of Jamie Miller's smoked-pork, grilled-chicken and black-bean tacos have reason to mourn. The chef-owner is selling the trailer that debuted in 2012 as Burlington's first taco truck, Muchacho Taco.
"In a very super awesome way, we found out in January that my wife is pregnant," Miller explains. "That's great, but it definitely changes some things in terms of monetary needs."
The cook adds that food trucks are a difficult business to sustain in Burlington. Finding a place to park the trailer when not operating was a hassle, but wrangling prep and storage space was nigh impossible for the entrepreneur working out of his tiny downtown apartment. Miller says he and other food-truck owners have talked to Burlington's Community and Economic Development Office about the need for a cooperative kitchen in the Queen City where they could prepare and store food.
In the meantime, don't count Miller out for good. "The Muchacho Taco trailer may not exist this year, but it's not like if I sell the trailer all of a sudden I forget how to cook," he says. "Does Muchacho Taco all of a sudden have to die? Not really."
Now, the good news: As of last weekend, Burlington has two new places to mix the two most important food groups — beer and pork — when you're on the go. On Friday, Cormac Walsh of South End Sliders debuted a second cart, Mr. Cool's, which parks in front of Outdoor Gear Exchange on Church Street. Following a busy weekend, Walsh plans to slowly add weekdays, beginning with this Wednesday, if weather cooperates. Offerings include homemade pulled pork, classic McKenzie Country Classics hot dogs and beer-enhanced sausages from Vermont Beer Brat Company.
The latter company, owned by Bryan Bessery of Bessery's Quality Market, celebrated its own food truck's opening weekend at ArtsRiot's South End Truck Stop last Friday. Bessery has been making his own sausage for a year, and says he'll have moved 600 pounds in May alone. To sell even more, he's taking to the road.
The name "Beer Brat" doesn't refer to the cooking method but to the ingredients: Bessery infuses the sausages with Heady Topper, Shed Brewery Mountain Ale and Citizen Cider.
On June 5, another food truck will make its long-awaited debut when Phantom Productions parks for lunch at the Cabot offices in Waitsfield. It will continue to serve there on Thursdays, adding Monday and Tuesday at American Flatbread in Waitsfield the following week.
Chef-owner Matt Sargent, known for his pop-up Phantom dinners, says he'll stay away from the usual food-truck suspects such as burgers and sandwiches. Instead, look for long-braised meats and meatballs — and, before long, expect to see the truck in the Burlington area.