Food trucks shifted back into gear, this time heading to new territory: residential neighborhoods

The stay-at-home order drove Curbside founder Nick Hufft to return to his roots: He brought back the food truck that first introduced Curbside’s food to the community years ago. Hufft was still an LSU student when he launched the food truck in 2010.

This time, taking it to the streets allowed patrons to enjoy Hufft’s signature pub grub just a few steps from home.

“We put the word out right after we found out [about the dine-in restrictions] and immediately got requests from 80 or 90 people on social media,” Hufft says.

Curbside’s breakfast tots

Curbside’s permanent Government Street location remained open for pickup, while the food truck scheduled regular stops in subdivisions across Baton Rouge. Hufft and his team made it to Westminster/Pine Park, Jamestown, Bluebonnet and Highland and other parts of town, each time coloring chalk lines to establish safe social distancing between customers.

A mobile truck presence has also helped other restaurants such as Cou-Yon’s, which got its signature pit barbecue into the hands of quarantined fans across the Capital Region. The Port Allen restaurant kicked into to-go order mode but also developed a plan for using its growing fleet of food trucks, including one that had previously been parked daily on the LSU campus.

With face-to-face classes canceled in mid-March, Cou-Yon’s LSU truck quickly began making rounds through neighborhoods by request.

“Our biggest goal has been to keep our employees working, and this is one of the ways we can do it,” says owner Paul Mladenka. As of late March, Cou-Yon’s second truck was soon scheduled to be placed permanently in the Acadian Perkins Plaza shopping center parking lot—a serendipitous move that was in the works before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Cou-Yon’s spent 2019 looking to expand the restaurant’s footprint into Baton Rouge, but had opted for food trucks in fixed locations rather than a new freestanding restaurant. Cou-Yon’s is also planning a third truck for the Bluebonnet/Burbank area sometime this spring.

“That decision couldn’t have come at a better time,” Mladenka says. “We feel incredibly blessed.”

This article was originally published as part of the ‘Restaurants fight to survive’ cover story in the May 2020 issue of 225 Magazine.