By Donna Cornelius
If you need some food in your neighborhood – or at your special event, corporate gathering or fundraiser – who ya gonna call?
A good place to start is the Greater Birmingham Street Food Coalition. It’s a group that represents food trucks, trailers and other mobile-based businesses.
“We started the coalition a few years ago when the city of Birmingham started addressing food trucks and where they could park,” said Brock Beiersdoerfer, the group’s secretary. “If people are looking for food trucks for a certain event, they can contact us. They can tell us what kind of event they’re having and how many people they’re expecting. It saves them from having to contact 20 different food truck owners.”
People also can find out where trucks are selling on a particular day and about special events by visiting the coalition’s website, bhmstreetfoodcoalition.wordpress.com, or its Facebook page.
“We want to bring high-quality food to Birmingham without brick and mortar stores,” Beiersdoerfer said.
He and his wife, Kimberly, do have an honest-to-goodness storefront: Heavenly Donut Co. at 4911 Cahaba River Road in Vestavia Hills. But the company also has two food trucks.
“We opened our brick and mortar store first, in January 2013,” he said. “We added the first truck three years later. We had it in mind from the beginning. Everything is cooked here at the store, and we load it up on bakery racks.”
Coalition members will gather Oct. 22 at Avondale Brewing Co. for the group’s first Fall Food Truck Rally.
“Last year in the spring, we had a food truck rally at Avondale Brewing, and it was a great hit with all the trucks set up in a square,” Beiersdoerfer said. “We try to do at least one event every quarter.”
While most of the coalition mem- bers serve food to people, Fetch – a Treat Truck for Dogs has goodies for pets. Another member, Southern Wanderer, is a clothing boutique.
Both these trucks as well as the Heavenly Donut Co. food truck will be at the fall rally, as will a relative newcomer to the Birmingham mobile food scene – Encore Rouge. Antoinne Davis, the owner, and his wife, operations manager Shantale Davis, said they got their truck up and running in April.
The couple’s first venture into the food business was with a catering company, Shantale Davis said.
“We started it about two years ago doing events or taking orders from people at work,” Shantale Davis said. “It expanded – more and more people were requesting food. The idea came to start a food truck.”
The catering company was called Authentic Catering.
“For the truck, we needed a better name,” Shantale said. “People kept asking, ‘When are you going to start back catering?’ So I said, what about Encore? But that name was already taken by another business. We tried to think of a second word to go with it.”
Since “encore” is a French word, the Davises wanted to keep a French flavor in the truck’s name.
“My sister asked Antoinne what his favorite color is,” Shantale said. “It’s red, and red in French is ‘rouge.’ We thought it was catchy – but a little fancy.”
She said the name often prompts customers to ask if the couple is from New Orleans. They’re actually Birmingham natives.
Antoinne Davis said that, in coming up with a menu, they stayed with their top-selling items. Encore Rouge has two pasta dishes. Cajun Chicken Alfredo is penne pasta tossed in rich alfredo sauce. Shrimp Boil Overload has penne pasta topped with creamy garlic butter sauce, shrimp, Andouille sausage, corn on the cob and red potatoes.
The menu’s three handcrafted Rouge Burgers are the Bayou Burger topped with smoked gouda cheese, sautéed shrimp and Encore Rouge’s signature spinach dip sauce; the French Onion Burger with caramelized onions and smoked gouda cheese; and the Bacon Cheeseburger with bacon and cheddar cheese. All burgers come with fries.
“Our No. 1 seller is the Bayou Burger,” Antoinne said.
Encore Rouge also has Cajun chicken wings and tenders.
Shantale said it’s an advantage to be part of the Greater Birmingham Street Food Coalition.
“It helps as far as getting business in that we’re a new truck,” she said. “They’re also there to give us a helping hand if we need something.”
Other trucks scheduled to be at the rally include Lazy Boy BBQ, Melt Food Truck, Totspot, Repicci’s Italian Ice & Gelato, Saw’s Street Kitchen, Eugene’s Hot Chicken, Bendy’s Cookies & Cream, Taco Morro Loco, and Cantina on Wheels.
Brock Beiersdoerfer said the Heavenly Donut Co. will be bringing some of its popular cake and yeast donuts to the rally. The company rotates flavors and debuts a new one every couple of weeks.
“We’ve just introduced a French toast donut and will have a s’mores donut and a banana pudding flavor,” he said.
He said the company’s first truck was dubbed Dough Rider. The new one is called Vincent van Dough. The fun names fit his attitude toward his business.
“Hey, it’s donuts – if you can’t have fun with flour and sugar, what’s the world coming to?” he said.
The Fall Food Truck Rally is from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 22 at Avondale Brewing Co., 201 41st St. S in Birmingham. The event includes musical entertainment and children’s activities.
Early bird tickets, available through Oct. 15, are $5. Tickets are $8 Oct. 16-21 and $10 at the gate. Tickets for ages 5-12 are $2 in advance and $5 at the gate. There’s no charge for children under age 5. To buy tickets, visit www.foodtruckrally.instagift.com. ❖