Food trucks in the Greenville area are growing in popularity, evolving from mobile eateries to brick-and-mortar restaurants with a strong following.
That’s why the Fall for Greenville festival hosts Food Truck Row and the euphoria brings a variety of mobile food vendors to town. Both events help mobile trucks gain more followers and eventually become independent restaurants.
“I can remember Mayor Knox White coming to the opening day of the food truck in the parking lot of the bank building,” said Ruth Fox, Asada food truck media relations specialist.
According to the Greenville business license department, Asada is the first food truck in the city of Greenville.
“From that first day, we tried to build a following and it worked for us,” Fox said.
After opening in 2011, the Latin American mobile food truck spent its first three years in parking lots near the Donaldson Center at Church Street and Augusta Road. The food truck also had a designated area near Falls and Broad Streets in 2013.
By 2014, Asada had moved to a traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant and continued to operate at 903 Wade Hampton Blvd. More than 10 years.
Comal 864, White Wine & Butter and many others started as food trucks and eventually became storefronts. Some have failed, while others have garnered nationwide, regional, and even national attention.
According to Claude Turner, Greenville’s business licensing officer, there were about 75 active food truck vendors in the city of Greenville as of February. This does not include traditional food carts or ice cream trucks that require transportation; most of them have hopes of becoming permanent fixtures in Greenville’s dining scene.
Providing a unique taste of home at food trucks around Greenville
Most food trucks in Greenville cater to manufacturing plants, residential buildings, corporate events, and large crowd gatherings in hopes of making connections to become a full-scale restaurant.
Some of those food trucks have become successful and known for their specialties. Harry’s Hoagies, 1700 E. North St., formally known as Mike’s Cheesesteaks, flies in bread daily from New Jersey.
Sofrito’s food truck brings South Florida recipes and Cuban cuisine to the Upstate. A Taste of Detroit specializes in Coney Island-style hot dogs that showcase a Midwest flavor to the South.
Robert Webster, owner of A Taste of Detroit, estimates that almost half of his food truck’s customer base is now Michigan natives living in Greenville.
“Our goal is to become a storefront,” said Michelle Webster, who owns the A Taste of Detroit food truck with her husband, Robert. “We may look into that later, but for now we’re focused on bringing the flavor of Detroit to the state of South Carolina.”
“People dictate whether you’re good or not,” Robert said. “We’ve faced setbacks, but we’re consistent, rain or shine, and we have something different to offer like our special sauce (original chili-based). You won’t find it anywhere else in the Upstate.”
Food Trucks by the Numbers in South Carolina
- According to the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), as of February, there were a total of 1,896 food trucks in service in South Carolina, with 437 located in the Upstate between Anderson, Greenville, Pickens, Oconee and Spartanburg counties.
- According to DHEC, South Carolina had a net gain of 336 food trucks in the state last year.
- According to a US Foods study, Americans are just as likely to visit a cafe as a food truck, cart or stand.
- Here is a list of active food trucks in Greenville as of January and a graph of the number of food trucks by county across South Carolina:
Greer has the first food truck village in the area.
Dorchester County, South Carolina near Charleston, opened in 2020 by Sammy Reeves in St. George is home to the first food truck park, which began as Food Truck Park. It offered a buffet style – first-come, first-served, where truckers could order at any time. A Dorchester County food truck park has brought food diversity to a community of about 2,000 people.
St. “We’re a small town, with the same three or four restaurants in town, so it brings in a lot of different food,” said Caleb Patrick, George Food Truck Park marketing manager. “They kill it when they come, especially the food trucks with different dishes like Dizzy Lamb and sushi trucks. It expands everyone’s food options.”
In Simpsonville, the Scuffletown Food Truck Park has a similar concept, except it offers six participating food trucks a year’s residency at 206 Laden Court.
“Greenville itself is a huge food truck community, so we decided it would be a great thing to bring a few trucks together,” said Allie Holck, co-owner of Scuffletown Food Truck Park.
Holck and her husband, Justin, moved to Greenville in 2021 from Bend, Oregon. They had several food trucks in Oregon and envisioned a centralized location in Greenville to have a variety of food trucks. Together they own a property, liquor and food business and rent out premises.
“We’re excited to contribute to the food scene here and give foodies a place to experience what the region has to offer,” Holk said.
Coming soon in the spring is Greer Food Truck Village by Hector Batista, owner of Sofrito and The Goat Bar & Grill. The half-acre food park includes fresh, homemade pasta, smash burgers, traditional tacos, a pizza truck and a coffee station. The dessert station will have an indoor bar and live music on weekends.
Greer Food Truck Village was scheduled to open in March, but expansion plans were delayed as more connecting roads, parking lots and space for food trucks were added.
While there is no update on when the food truck village will open, the premises remain the same to support the growth of the mobile retail food business.
“With the food truck village, we can partner with the food trucks,” Batista said. “We want to support small business owners and — we want to provide consistency to help build a following. I have an idea of how to sustain and grow food truck businesses, so I’m excited for the future of Food Truck Village.”
– AJ Jackson covers the food and dining scene along with arts, entertainment and downtown culture for The Greenville News. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on X (officially Twitter) @ajhappened.