JOHNSONVILLE, S.C. -- Parked at the corner of S.C. 41-51 and S.C. 341 in Johnsonville, Connor Brown estimates the kitchen of his food truck might reach 120 degrees in the late May sweltering weather.
But if you can’t stand the heat, you don’t cook and serve food from a food truck. Ya Hungry? – owned by Kingstree-based Connor Brown – serves the Pee Dee and beyond.
Brown said the food truck offers an excellent short-order menu plus daily lunch specials. Since November 2017, he has been setting up and serving his dishes from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. or so on most weekdays. He also caters events and has set up at factories and festivals. If you want to have Ya Hungry? in your community, get in touch with Brown through his Facebook page, Ya Hungry? Food Truck & Catering.
The custom-built kitchen on wheels was made for him by SLE Equipment in Antioch, Tennessee. Brown told him where to set his refrigerator, coolers and stove equipment. Once the concession trailer was ready, he began planning his schedule.
Brown, former owner of the King’s Tree Tavern from 2003-2009, took some time away from the food industry to run a country store for a friend. At some point in time, he said, the bug was put in his ear to do the food truck. He said he sat on the idea, mulling it over until he met with his banker and his attorney. By November 2017, after a dry run of cooking from the mobile kitchen for some friends and family members, he set up shop at the Pecan Festival in Florence.
Brown jokes that he did love to cook, before cooking became his business. What he enjoys cooking most are the Southern comfort foods, but his short-order grill stays fired up. He uses Facebook to connect with his customers and to let them know where he will be and what he will be serving each day.
The biggest downside to his food truck, he said, is bad weather. If it’s too hot or too rainy, folks just don’t stop. Of course, if there is equipment failure – he has struggled with some generator problems this year – his truck is parked.
He also reminds his customers that Ya Hungry? is not a “fast food” place.
“We pride ourselves on offering restaurant-quality food at lower prices than your traditional ‘sit-down’ restaurant,” he said.
The majority of what is offered is cooked to order to maintain the order’s freshness, which means a small wait time.
But the food is worth the wait. Also, he said, if a customer walks up and orders something, and if it seems to be taking more time than necessary, he might have large call-in orders placed ahead of time.
Ya Hungry? complies with DHEC regulations and is inspected at least twice a year, he said. He has the necessary state and local business licenses to operate.
“It gets real old eating in the same old places,” James Capers said while waiting for his lunch. “I like to give everybody a try.”
Ya Hungry? is in Johnsonville every other week, he said, and in Kingstree on Thursday and Friday.
“I do the shopping, prepping, cleaning, and marketing,” Brown said, “and maintenance when I can.”
However, he occasionally has help with the order-taking.
Kimberly Parker of Lake City helped him out some last summer and was back at the window in May when he was in Johnsonville. She likes his cheeseburgers, she said.
During that week, Ya Hungry? traveled from Johnsonville on Tuesday to Turbeville on Wednesday to Kingstree (at the old jail) on Thursday and back to Kingstree (in front of the Goody's store) on Friday.
Just check the Facebook page, Brown said, for where he will be and what he will be serving.
“I will post the special for the location in the morning, as it will depend on if I'm by myself or not,” he said. Brown also caters birthday parties, graduation parties and the like. He enjoys catering when he can set up the meal, watch people enjoy it, and visit with the customers, such as at employee banquets, he said.
He cooks just about anything, he said. Among the offerings purchased by customers in Johnsonville was the fried bologna sandwich (where the bologna is one-half inch thick or more), the Jamaican jerk burger (which is juicy, sweet and flavorful) and the grilled chicken wrap with lettuce and sour cream.
“We serve ‘fat-boy’ portions,” Brown said, laughing. “You get your money’s worth.”