Feeding the masses one truck at a time

Published 12:10 am Saturday, July 15, 2023

SALISBURY — Tranise Brown came up with the idea of a food truck festival late one night and from the moment the thought was born, Food Truck Tuesdays has been a hit with Rowan County and beyond.

She and her husband Travis Fennell run an event planning company, Party Kravers, along with the million other things they do (including a printing company for bespoke T-shirts, signs, etc. called Browns Athletic Apparel), and when the town of Spencer was working on coming up with community events, Brown put on her brainstorming cap.

“I woke him up and said I had an idea — we would have a food truck event,” she said. Asked if her husband thought she was crazy, she laughed. “Not really. I mean, when I said I wanted to do it the next week, he was surprised, but he just said OK and jumped on board.”

That is typical of the pair, who support one another in all things.

But it has not always been so easy for Brown, who left an abusive marriage after many years when the Department of Children and Family Services gave her a choice — go home to Salisbury and family, or lose her children because they were in a dangerous situation.

“God forced me to move, and it was the best thing that could have happened,” she said. “This is where I am meant to be.”

And if her idea of the food truck festival is any indication, she is right. In November of 2022, Brown and Fennell partnered with Konnected Entertainment and Wellness Center to host Food Truck Tuesdays, a name that Brown has since purchased. And though it was a success, it became clear a new venue was needed.

“We were driving by the fairgrounds one Sunday, and I said ‘stop,'” Brown said. “I thought there was no way the owner would be interested, because we were still small, and for something like the fairgrounds, you need to come in right, and big. But if you don’t ask, the answer is always no, right? So I stopped and went in and asked to speak to the owner.

Randall Barger happened to be the one she asked, and as luck would have it, he is the guy to talk to.

“When I said my name, he said ‘oh my gosh, I’ve been trying to find you!’ He agreed that we could move to the fairgrounds, and we were off and running,” she said.

And now, from the six or so trucks she started with, there is often a waiting list for participation. The trucks that started with her, who believed in her vision, will always have a spot, she said. But she is also always looking for a way to make room for one more. And Tuesday nights, from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m., the public is invited, with no entry fee, to choose from a wide range of foods, including drinks and desserts, listen to the DJ or band that is playing, enjoy games and visit with friends and neighbors from lawn chairs or blankets.

Once the Tuesday night event blew up, to the point where the Facebook page has 13,000 followers and counting, Brown decided to add Wednesday lunch from 11 am. to 2 p.m., and that is growing as well. A work crowd has figured out they can come and grab fresh made lunch from a different spot (or the same one) each Wednesday without having to drive to a different restaurant every time. And the variety continues to grow, from traditional cheeseburgers to tacos to Latin food to friend chicken to gourmet corn dogs to wings and Philly cheesesteaks to ice cream to pies and cakes to lemonades and Italian ice and everything in between, if you have a craving, someone there can satisfy it.

The final addition is Sunday afternoon picnics from 1 to 6 p.m. on the third Sunday of each month.

In addition, the couple has now added Food Truck Thursdays over the river in Lexington, and Brown has her eye on Statesville next.

“The whole idea is for this to be a community event,” she said. “We can be so divided right now, and food is a good way to come together, be happy, enjoy eating something delicious and connecting in a happy way.” She would love to continue to grow the festival in other communities as well. “I’d do one every day in another town if I could,” she laughed.

And the food truck vendors are devoted to her.

“Every time we grow, or go to a new place, they come with me,” she said. Amazingly enough, she and Fennell do not have a food truck themselves. But they had the idea, and the passion to bring it all together.

“I truly love what I do, and I am so very grateful for the support and the people coming out,” said Brown. “And I love it when people reach out, want to meet me, and let me know they are enjoying themselves.”