Photo Credit: Photo by Peter Taylor
From Charlotte's Hottest Black-Owned Food Truck, To Brick-And-Mortar
After running a highly successful food truck for the last five years, chefs Jamie Barnes and Greg Williams will open their first brick and mortar location in Charlotte on March 23. The restaurant is located at 10707 Park Rd. Suite F.
Despite a pandemic, the two Black chefs out of Charlotte, NC have managed to nearly triple business for their loaded fries food truck. What The Fries can easily be deemed the city’s most sought after food truck, and we had a chance to speak with Chefs Jamie Barnes and Greg Williams on getting to this place after five years of being in business.
Jamie and Greg met while attending Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte. The two formed an instant bond and have done everything from working together in restaurants to Greg being a groomsman in Jamie’s wedding.
The idea for the business came after signing up for The Great Food Truck Race.
“We made it pretty far in the competition, but they didn’t select us in the end,” Greg Williams told Travel Noire. “We decided to just keep the loaded fries concept because we knew it was an easy way for us to get creative with our dishes.”
Becoming one of the hottest food trucks was no easy feat. For years the men worked to get people to accept the name and brand, including catering corporate events serving boxed pasta lunches— so that people could get a taste of their culinary talent.
They eventually made the leap and purchased an old FedEx delivery truck, that they converted into the What The Fries food truck.
“It hasn’t been easy. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve broken down on the side of the road or had fryers go out. But we kept pushing.”
Now, the men are hoping to take their business to the next level by opening the first brick and mortar location. For the last four or five months, both Greg and Jamie have been on the hunt for the perfect location around Charlotte.
Trying to find that “just right” first location has come with its own obstacles. The men have been turned down by landlords who either don’t see their vision or aren’t sold that they can bring in the same business they do for the truck.
“It’s frustrating,” Greg said. “Sometimes I think skin color plays a part in it. We have the credentials and the proof is in our following. It’s only a matter of us getting over this hurdle, and we will be fine.”
While the menu changes up often, the bestsellers right now are the lobster mac fries and the chicken sandwich with house made pickles and special yum yum sauce.
The men use their culinary background to brainstorm and create new items. While introducing new things can be a gamble, it always seems to work out in their favor. They are constantly pushing themselves to top anything they’ve already done. You can definitely expect even more creative dishes coming now that they have more room to play.
“We’ve received so much love and support over the last few months. Every day we’re seeing new people coming out to try us.”
As for the next five years, the brand hopes to expand to multiple locations and trucks.
We asked Greg and Jamie to offer advice to aspiring Black food truck or restaurant owners, here’s what they said:
“Be ready to grind and just don’t give up. When you have your own business, there will be days when you want to quit. But, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Once you start seeing the payoff, it will all be worth it.”