The North Gwinnett Voice loves to celebrate our local community, from nonprofits making a difference to businesses helping the area grow and prosper to the myriad events that make our community a great place to live and play. In continuing the celebration of our community, the North Gwinnett Voice is taking advantage of National Food Truck Day on June 25 to highlight two local food trucks and the owners who are making food fast and friendly on the go.
Soul Truckin’ Good
Carl Johnson started out grilling meats under a 10-by-10 tent using a $15 tabletop grill from Walmart with two tables set up for his customers.
“We started from the most humble beginnings,” Johnson remembered.
From those beginnings, Johnson and his wife, Jei, began working on plans for something larger than a 10-by-10 tent, fully enclosed except for windows and doors and on wheels and ready to travel. In December 2015, with an investment from Johnson’s friend, rapper Mims of “This is Why I’m Hot” fame, the Johnsons started Soul Truckin’ Good, a Dacula-based mobile food business that specializes in grilled and smoked meats and seafood.
“I just like to say I’m a fat guy that likes to cook,” Johnson quipped. “I like my food, so that kind of gave me the foundation.”
From that foundation, and those initial humble beginnings, Johnson has made his own homemade barbecue sauce and, using spices from Nancy’s Candy and Spice shop in Lawrenceville, created his own proprietary blend used to season and flavor his meats. And the food truck business has grown.
“We’ve honestly grown organically and we’ve cooked for some of the biggest names you can think of,” Johnson said, “Sherwin Williams, Pepsi, Black Voters Matter, CDC.”
But like almost every other business in the north Gwinnett area, Soul Truckin’ Good was affected by the pandemic.
“It’s a gift and a curse,” Johnson said of COVID-19. “The gift for us is that we’ve always been mobile, so we didn’t have to change our business model when the pandemic hit.”
What did change was the food truck’s customer base — with offices shut down and festivals canceled, Johnson said his saving grace was breweries and neighborhoods.
And 2021 is looking up.
“For us, this year has definitely skyrocketed,” Johnson said.
On National Food Truck Day on Friday, June 25, Soul Truckin’ Good can be found at Outrun Brewing Company in Stone Mountain.
Flavor Rich Food Truck
A passion for creating delicious food and a love of serving people brought together the co-owners of Suwanee-based Flavor Rich Food Truck.
Angelica Finley and Christopher Fletcher met and bonded over the culinary arts while working at the Ritz-Carlton Atlanta together. Realizing their shared aspirations, the two became business partners and opened Flavor Rich Food Truck in April 2018.
Finley and Fletcher also share similar educational backgrounds in the culinary arts — Finley graduated with a bachelor’s degree in food science and business management from Florida A&M University in 2009 and she graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in 2012. Fletcher attended the Art Institute of Atlanta and graduated with a degree in culinary arts in 2007.
Flavor Rich is based in Suwanee but has been as far south as Columbus and as far north as Helen. The food truck serves up a mix between southern and Cajun cuisine, with southern fried chicken, lobster rolls, shrimp burgers, fried alligator and more on the menu, which Finley said changes frequently.
Like most businesses in the food service industry, Flavor Rich Food Truck took a hit at the onset of the pandemic.
“When COVID first hit we were greatly affected,” Finley said. “We didn’t work for about a month and all the major festivals were canceled.”
Despite the initial challenges, a silver lining was in sight.
“After the initial shock communities start calling us to serve their neighborhoods,” Finley said. “A lot of restaurants were closed and people were not going out so it was very convenient for them. That helped us out a lot.”
With the food truck doing well, Finley and Fletcher decided to expand. In August 2020, the duo opened a restaurant, Flavor Rich in Suwanee.
Still, Flavor Rich Food Truck gives Finley and Fletcher a unique opportunity.
“(The best part of operating a food truck is) being able to meet and connect with so many different people,” Finley said. “When we do festivals and catering, some of those people travel from all over the country and we enjoy being able to serve amazing food.”