By Zirconia Alleyne
Food trucks are popping up everywhere, and they’re now rolling into the Fort Campbell and Clarksville areas.
After the introduction of Soul Fuel BBQ, readers made note that there’s a handful of other food trucks on the scene.
Check out the stories of Lunch Rush Gourmet and Good Eats International, and then follow them on Facebook to find out about the next food truck invasion.
By way of Seattle and Pennsylvania, Tom and Cheryl Maga have brought gourmet on the go to post on their food truck, Lunch Rush Gourmet.
The menu includes a flat bread Philly cheese steak or chicken, the Hawaiian Hoagie, the Applejack Salmon Wrap the Cantina Rush and a special sammy in honor of soldiers called the Fort Campbell Hero. All are unique yet pleasant alternatives to the usual fast-food sub sandwich.
The “Fort Campbell Hero” sammy starts with bacon marmalade smeared on a 12-inch tortilla then stuffed with grilled steak and chicken, bell and poblano peppers, onions, French fries, lettuce and chipotle lime sauce.
Tom wanted to create something in honor of the 101st Airborne Division because it’s where he retired in 1997.
Tom, who served nine and a half years in the Army, said he was drawn to the diversity in the area so the family stayed put after he got out.
“There’s different people from all over the country,” he said. “You never know who you’re going to run into right here.”
Lunch Rush Gourmet opened June 2013 after Tom left his career in construction due to health reasons. Unsure of when he’d be able to go back to work, the couple thought it would be a good idea to start their own business.
“Food trucks were up and coming, so we said, ‘Let’s do this,’” Tom said.
Cheryl, a personal chef of 12 years, wanted to offer fresh flavors and surprising combinations at Lunch Rush.
Starting with the Hawaiian Hoagie, she roasts pulled pork overnight then nestles the meat in a plump hoagie topped with pineapple-mango salsa.
The lightly flavored salsa is also doused on the Applejack Salmon Wrap. Bourbon-marinated salmon is grilled then served on a tortilla with caramelized onions, red bell peppers, lettuce and a homemade citrus cream sauce.
The wraps or sammies can be served alongside French fries, pierogi or sweet potato fries drizzled in marshmallow.
Cheryl said the best part is seeing someone look at their food in amazement.
“That OMG look after I’ve made it is the pay off,” she said. “Nothing else can top that for me.”
Tom said most customers come back for the flat bread Philly, which can be made with chicken or steak, caramelized onions, poblano and sweet bell peppers, provolone or pepper jack cheese, lettuce and a jalapeno aioli.
“We’ve been trying to switch the menu but these guys really love their Phillies and their salmon,” Cheryl said. “It doesn’t matter how hot it is, we want to feed people what they like.”
The couple’s 22-year-old daughter, Jennifer, also helps out inside the bright orange and red truck.
“It’s pretty awesome to interact with the customers,” she said. “Just being on Fort Campbell is great … it’s really nice to bring something new to the soldiers.”
Jennifer recently started the Fort Campbell Food Truck alongside the Clarksville Food Truck
The groups host food truck invasions, which feature a lineup of trucks in different locations each time. Fans can find out what trucks will be where on their Facebook page, “Clarksville Food Truck Association.”
Tom said the other owners are like family.
“Theoretically, they’re all our competition, but the food trucks all serve something different,”
Good Eats International serves a different cuisine each day they’re open. Mondays are Filipino, Tuesdays are German and Wednesdays are Mexican food.
The owners, Michael and Josie Cassady, who are both veterans, said they drew on experiences of places they visited to create the menu.
Michael retired from the Air Force last year after 26 years and Josie, who was active duty for eight years and reserves for 12 years, told him she wanted to open a food truck.
“We’d been all over the place, the Pacific and Europe, and everywhere we go we inherit recipes and dishes,” she said. “So, last year, I said, ‘It’s my turn,’ and this is what I wanted.”
The couple and their two children, Anna, 15, and Joey, 17, operate the business together.
Michael said it was an adjustment when he retired because his family wasn’t used to him being around as often, especially not inside of small food truck.
“Normally, I’m out the door at o-dark-thirty for PT and I’m not home until 5 or 6’oclock in the evening,” he laughed. “Then, I retire and I’m home all the time now. It’s fun now because, instead of going out and getting a job somewhere else, I’m actually giving (my children) experience in business and building their business skills and interacting.”
Michael said the customer favorites vary based on the day. On Mondays, the Lumpia (a Filipino-style spring roll) is popular in three different flavors, ground pork, cheese or jalapeno cheese. The schnitzel is a hit on Tuesdays and the Good Eats nacho fries are big on Wednesdays.
A frequent customer, JoAnne McGuire, said the chicken adobo keeps her coming back.
“It’s phenomenal and the portions they give you are huge,” she raved.
Customers also swoon for Josie’s six gourmet sauces, specifically the Creamy Hot Jalapeno that made Clarksville’s “Top 100 Eats” list. She sells them at the Clarksville Farmers Market on Saturdays.
Michael said they love the immediate feedback from customers, specifically soldiers and families who get to try a variety of food without breaking the bank.
“A food truck is a great opportunity to try something very different without traveling,” he said. “You’ve got international food right here in Fort Campbell. You don’t even have to leave post.
“I served for 26 years and I can continue to serve by providing soldiers some lunch options,” he continued. “My wife and I both enjoy that.”
Lunch Rush Gourmet Food Truck
Owners: Tom and Cheryl Maga
Cuisine: Gourmet wraps and sammies
Location: parking lot of Clothing Sales on post, MBR Pickin’ on the Porch
Hours: 1000 to 1430 on post, or until their last customer is fed
Best seller: Flat bread Philly cheese steak
Signature: “Fort Campbell Hero”
Good Eats International
Owners: Michael and Josie Cassady
Cuisine: Monday – Filipino, Tuesday – German, Wednesday – Mexican
Location: Convenient store parking lot near Hooper Bowling Alley, Clarksville Farmers Market
Hours: 1000 to 1430 Monday-Wednesday, Saturdays during farmers market hours
Best sellers: Lumpia, schnitzel and nacho fries
Signature: Josie’s six gourmet sauces, specifically the Creamy Hot Jalapeno sauce