All gas station lunch the offer generally looks the same: hot dogs spinning on the stove, deli sandwiches lining the cooler and a soda fountain with styrofoam cups.
Pensacola restaurateur and chef Randy Russell said there’s something to be said for being able to walk to a nice place, order a bite to eat after a long day, and then move on.
With that in mind, Russell has reinvented a way to bring the same fast, casual dining style to Pensacola without making the meal you order look like fast food. He designed a simple, yet elevated menu to fit the concept, and the little restaurant he invented The Truck Stop was born.
“Somebody might come in, ‘Give me one of those sandwiches, one of those hot dogs, one of those,’ and it’s like OK, call them, by the time I’m done with them. call, turn around, OK wait a sec – there you go. You’re out,” Russell said of The Truck Stop idea. “It’s supposed to be high production of a small amount of stuff so that we can somehow adapt to that model.”
Russell already operates the internationally inspired food truck nomadic eating for years, while also renting the building, it is parked outside at 9 E. Gregory St. to be used for cooking and prep areas.
Russell identified other local business owners interested in using this indoor space for their businesses, including Ms. Jones Cold Brew and Big Jerk Soda. Russell called the shared indoor space Nomadic’s Café, a generic name for the vendors inside.
Once The Truck Stop opens, it will replace the Nomadic’s Café space, although Russell said Big Jerk Soda will continue to bottle in the store. Mrs. Jones Cold Brew will be moving.
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The Truck Stop storefront will work cohesively with the Nomadic Eats food truck. Customers can order lunch outside at Nomadic Eats during the day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., then head to The Truck Stop at night from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Russell said the hours could be adjusted once the restaurant opens, hopefully in late April. .
“The Truck Stop is still trying to fill that same gap or provide the same as we (at Nomadic Eats), just as part of a night out in addition to a lunch. It expands on our current concept which is fast food , casual, fast and affordable – but that’s it with another little twist,” Russell said. “The way we do it inside is just going to be a very small, limited menu that’s easily runnable to be quick. The goal is to have some sort of walk-in food source.”
Customers will come up to the counter, order, and then have the food in their hands within minutes.
The key to speed is keeping the menu simple, Russell said. The items at The Truck Stop will be different from those at Nomadic Eats, but there will be a nod to some of the food truck’s specialties – a crowd favorite being the Cuban sandwich, pressed with mojo pork, ham, Swiss cheese, homemade pickles and a mustard-mayo mixture.
Other internationally inspired portable devices will play with the theme, such as handmade tamales and Vietnamese hot dogs. Everything is seasoned by hand, from the pork mojo to the herbed pork sausage.
The food will be take out, but there will be room for a dozen seats inside the restaurant.
Russell said that from his experience traveling to other countries, he’s seen how well this elevated fast food model can work. With The Truck Stop, you won’t need to go through the entire sit-down restaurant experience to get a high-quality meal.
Those interested in working at The Truck Stop can contact Russell at [email protected]. The position will include food preparation and customer service.