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Food trucks roll in to Knoxville

8:01 AM, Mar 9, 2012   |    comments
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The food truck tradition is rolling into Knoxville.

A stark departure from typical mobile-fare, several local entrepreneurs are serving up higher quality, even gourmet, portable grub.

The Wong brothers opened Knoxville's first mobile Petro's Chili and Chips food truck in May of 2011.

"We noticed the trend in larger cities," says Edwin Wong.

He says the niche has exploded in areas like Asheville and Nashville, but has been slow to catch on in Knoxville.

"People didn't really understand what the truck was doing there," says Wong.

But he says as customers become more familiar with the concept, they've developed a base clientele eager for their signature dish-- corn chips layered with chili and fresh fixins'.

They rely on website traffic and text alerts to notify customers where and when they'll be.

He says unlike the model in larger cities, they limit their reliance on social media because they do a lot of business with hungry office workers whose employer may block access to websites like Facebook.

But owners of the Savory and Sweet food truck Nikisha and Byron Sambat says they don't even have a Web site.

They rely completely on social media, tweeting and posting their location to Facebook.

They debuted the gourmet food mobile last Friday, Byron says, to a great response.

Nikisha and Byron develop an ever-changing menu of locally produced fare, with many seasonal options.

Byron says they've teamed up with the Wong brothers for some events, working together to help familiarize the Knoxville market with upscale mobile food vendors.

"What we're trying to do is keep street food here to stay," says Byron.

The immediate benefit to the consumer is obvious says Byron- convenient, delicious, portable food.

But he says the trucks are also good for catering because they can serve an indeterminate number of people with made-to-order fare.

Click here to find where to check out the  Petro's Chili and Chips food truck.

Click here to find out where to check out the Savory and Sweet food truck.

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