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Brookings’ food truck industry is growing

BROOKINGS – Brookings residents hungry to try out a growing trend now have at least nine food truck options from which to choose.

The city licensed its first food truck in 2015, and after the first full year there were two registered trucks. Now there are nine different licensed food trucks operating around town offering options ranging from Mexican style food, pulled pork, desserts and fish and chips. 

“Food trucks benefit the City of Brookings by providing a variety of food options, contributing to municipal sales tax, and could potentially turn into restaurants within the City of Brookings,” City Clerk Bonnie Foster said. 

Michael Siegel, owner of Midwest Fresh Catering, says that owning a food truck is a fun way to connect with people throughout the community and see how happy they are when they eat his food.

Siegel started his food truck in Brookings in April 2017 as a branch of his catering business, which serves food at Daktronics. Operating a food truck helps him to get out of the kitchen and interact with his customers. The Midwest Fresh Catering truck attends multiple events in the community. They take pride in their from-scratch recipes and homemade sauces. Midwest Fresh Catering consists in a variety of foods, specializing in smoked meats.

All food trucks are required to be licensed through the City of Brookings, Foster said. This license is $75 and is good from January-December of the current year. The city is working on a public awareness campaign to make sure that everyone operating a truck knows they need to have a license.

One of Brookings’ newest food trucks is Day of the Dead Foods LLC. Operator Jenilee Schleusner entered the food industry by opening a salsa company but now has branched out. Day of the Dead Foods offers a variety of Mexican style foods, including food that they say is unique, like their pulled pork peanut butter and raspberry jalapeno jelly sandwich.

Day of the Dead Foods is open consistently on Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on the corner of Sixth Street and 32nd Avenue.

One of the major challenges facing food trucks in the Brookings area is the lack of awareness, operators said. It is hard to spread the word and let people know when and where the trucks are located. 

Unlike Day of the Dead Foods, most food trucks are not open consistently in one location. Instead food truck owners work at events, like the South Dakota State University’s Yellow and Blue Block Party. 

The Yellow and Blue Block Party was a private event that food trucks had to be invited to serve attendees. SDSU President Barry Dunn was excited to have food trucks at this event because it brings the college and the community together. He said these vendors provide students with fun experiences while being in Brookings.  

“I think it livens the whole community and engages us more and there’s just something fun about a food truck,” Dunn said. 

Backyard Grill owner Eric Elenkiwich brought his food truck up from Sioux Falls for the event. His truck travels all over South Dakota and Iowa. 

Elenkiwich said, “The food truck industry is growing in rural South Dakota because everyone likes convenience. It is an opportunity to eat different kinds of food that they can’t get at a restaurant every day plus being outside gives them a chance to talk to other people and also try multiple food items from other food truck vendors.” 

During the event, customers lined the streets waiting to experience food truck cooking. Katie Hillerud is one of SDSU students who attended the event. 

“I think they are super yummy. We had to check out all the menus and narrow it down; it was a hard decision,” Hillerud said.

Who they are:

Brookings officials have licensed nine food trucks to operate in the city. Two companies operate under the same food truck license – Dead of the Dead Foods and Sidecar Cuisine. Here is a look at the licensed food trucks: 

• Midwest Fresh Catering

• La Corita

• On the Hook Fish and Chips

• Backyard Grill

• Monkey Business Treats

• Big Bears BBQ, LLC

• Prairie Catering  

• Howard Concession

• Sidecar Cuisine, LLC

Where they’re at:

Upcoming events where you can try out some of the Brookings’ food trucks: 

• Rally at the Rails Hobo Day event, 5-9 p.m. today, Oct. 4

• Every SDSU home football game

• The Fear Asylum Haunted House in Brookings every Friday and Saturday night in October and the first weekend in November

• Discovery Benefits, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Oct. 21

• Eponymous Brewing, Brookings every Thursday night

COURTESY OF: The Brookings Register

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