Food trucks brighten up the dreariest days of cubicle life. These mobile eateries are pretty easy to find in downtown Louisville — just look for the huddled masses. The trucks are often parked along Main, Market and Fifth streets to attract the cubicle crowd from the surrounding offices. My brethren and I welcome the options with open wallets.
Recently, I came upon a food truck called Chick Cow on my way to grab some lunch. I had my sights set on taking a little drive to get an Ollie’s Trolley burger, but this new-ish food truck caught my eye and stomach.
Since I was meeting someone for lunch, I bought the Kentucky Klucker, aka a chicken wrap, and the Uncle Henry’s Heehaw Burger, aka a cheeseburger, so me and my lunch companion could get halfsies of each. It was a wise decision, if I do say so myself. The chicken was grilled, juicy and tender, so it kind of felt like I was eating a healthy meal. I can’t say that about the angus burger that comes on a buttered bun — it tasted too good to be good for me, too. The burger and the wrap were $7.53 apiece, and they each came with an order of steak-cut fries.
Chick Cow owner Amanda King was nice enough to talk to me about her unexpected inspiration for the truck, the business’s farm-to-table food and what’s next for one of the newest additions to the Louisville food truck scene.
Tell me about how the food truck started.
I have been in clothing manufacturing for years and owned two retail stores here in Louisville. Last summer, I told my husband that I was ready for a change. I ended up selling my clothing line in August. (I had) no idea what change was coming until I had a dream that I owned a food truck and was selling everything for a $1 in low-income areas. The next morning, my husband was at work and he had no clue what was going on at home. I broke apart our grill in the backyard, loaded in my car, went to Taylor Boulevard and called up a friend to start grilling. We set up shop on the side of the road. Later that evening, after discussing the day’s shenanigans with my husband, he agreed we could embark on the journey of owning a food truck. Mind you, neither one of us are chefs.
Food trucks have exploded in Louisville, and competition for customers is fierce. Why did you decide to go into the food truck business?
Besides the dream, I love competition, no matter what field it may be in. I studied the industry for about four to five months before hitting the road, and I noticed a major flaw in our local industry. Most food trucks on the street are just another bite to eat for lunch, like going through a McDonald’s drive-thru line. They were lacking an experience for their customers. It takes more than good food to keep customers coming back.
Tell me about a typical day. How long does it take to load, cook, prep, etc.?
This is the most important part of our success, and I strive to tell every one of our guests about this. Everything on our menu is not only local, but farm fresh. My family has been farming for years in Nelson County. We have a butcher that cuts all of our meats and cheese on a daily basis. Our bread is sourced from a Louisville local baker, and the produce comes from a local farm. Come summer months, the produce will come from our own farm, which we are really excited about. We have a team of three culinary chefs who are masterminds in the kitchen. One only works on the truck. It takes about two hours before lunchtime to prep the fresh veggies and get the meats juicy and ready to go. Everything on the menu is served with King Rd Taters, which are fresh-cut fries we cut on the spot from the largest potatoes you have ever seen. Lunch normally starts around 11 and ends at 1:30. Then it takes another two to three hours to clean the truck and stock for the next day.
What makes Chick Cow’s food stand out?
Besides having the freshest food, it’s the experience. I have a goal to know your name by your second visit to Chick Cow. I try to pay attention to all of the details the guest wants. If I don’t have something the first time you ask, I can promise you it will be there the second time you come. We placed outdoor heaters for the really cold days while you wait for your made-to-order meal, and the first guest of the day starting at 11 a.m. gets a free lunch.
What is your favorite dish on the menu?
Our team did such an over-the-top job with everything on the menu. I eat lunch from Chick Cow every day, and I’m not tired of it one bit. My top favorite would be the Big Bird — a 7-ounce juicy chicken breast with parmesan bread crumbs on a toasted buttered bun with provolone cheese. My next favorite would be Uncle Henry’s Heehaw Burger. (It’s) 100% angus beef, and I’m not sure what those guys have done to it, but I could eat one every night for dinner.
What’s in store for Chick Cow in 2015?
We are working hard on that perfect veggie lunch and gluten-free meal!