From Motion to Mortar: Durham's Food Trucks Turned Restaurants

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3 minutes

Much of the Bull City's food scene began packing a huge punch in palates throughout the community while still on wheels.

Posted By Ashley Strahm on Jun 20, 2019

We pride ourselves on being the incubator of innovation here in Durham. Much of the Bull City's food scene began packing a huge punch in palates throughout the community while still on wheels. One thing Durham does do, is support its own. Here's a look at the journey some of our favorites have made ... from taking up parking spots to owning parking lots and a slice of Durham's culinary glory.

American Meltdown

American Meltdown first made rubber hit the road six years ago in 2012, and specializes in all of the grilled cheese glory we've come to love. A classic favorite at food truck rodeos, American Meltdown owners Paul and Alycia Inserra capitalized on their cult following to open a brick-and-mortar location in 2015 in the food court at Streets at Southpoint mall.

Boricua Soul

The 1999 Freightliner MT55 Tool Truck that powered this source of 'Southern soul, Caribbean flair, Euro-African' rooted cuisine possesses a bold, unapologetic moniker: The Soul Patrol. We're so, so glad it does, because that's exactly what Boriqua Soul gives: food for the soul. Husband and wife team Toriano and Serena Fredericks have been melding their Puerto Rican and African American heritage into delightful bites for locals everywhere, and are soon moving to a permanent space at the American Tobacco Campus this summer.

Cocoa Cinnamon

From a smaller coffee operation on a bike they parked outside of Motorco and at the Durham Farmers' Market in 2012 to three locations throughout Durham today, Cocoa Cinnamon is sweet indeed. Couple Areli Barrera de Grodski and Leon Grodski de Barrera formed Durham staples we'll treasure endlessly. Barrera de Grodski was born in Mexico and lived in Tijuana until she was six years old, and her ingenuity and determination to bolster community means that we all get to celebrate culture, churros, and delectable, locally sourced desserts and beverages well into the future.

Kokyu Na'Mean

David “Flip” Filippini, owner of the KoKyu BBQ food truck, has opened the new Kokyu Na’Mean near Research Triangle Park in Durham (with a second location on the way). Filippini became a quick favorite since taking to the streets in 2010 to serve mouthwatering global street food (we're talking short rib quesadillas and duck fat tots, here, folks). His diverse offerings has yielded an expansion of his mobile fleet, too, meaning the addition of a second truck, called KoKyu Ondo, to produce new offerings like a Cheerwine & swine slider, featuring seared pork belly, Cackalacky Cheerwine sauce and Korean pear slaw.


Summer Bicknell of Locopops made it to Durham from Nashville by way of Mexico, stopping to learn how to make paletas and speak Spanish before bringing both creamy and juice based popsicles to locations all over Durham, first extended thousands through the small window of her vintage mini bus. Find these delicious treats at their new location at 2618 Hillsborough Road, and at summer concerts and various partners throughout the Bull City.


Chefs and owners Lindsay Moriarty and Rob Gillespie didn’t set out to open a restaurant, when they first dreamed of Monuts, but their deep commitment to good food, quality jobs and regional economic development led them to set out to "prove that restaurant’s don’t have to sacrifice their profits in order to support their communities." Since beginning as a donut stand operating from a tricycle near the Durham Farmer's Market in 2011, Monuts is now a thriving counter-service restaurant and bakery with a full menu of breakfast and lunch fare including soups, salads, sandwiches, and of course, donuts on Ninth Street.

Only Burger

What is now a orange clad storefront near the Durham Bulls Athletic Park began as one of the first food trucks to hit the scene over a decade ago in 2008. Numerous accolades, reviews and headlines later, Only Burger continues to sell fresh ingredients on protein packed meals in downtown Durham.

The Parlour

The Parlour co-owners Yoni and Vanessa Mazuz fondly call themselves Mr. and Mrs. Parlour, and we wouldn't have it any other way. What began as an at-home hobby to share their love of ice cream with family and friends soon blossomed into a business in 2011, when the couple bought a used commercial ice cream maker, started making bigger batches at The Cookery, and served it throughout the Triangle from a pastel pink converted school bus. In 2012, a Kickstarter campaign yielded open doors to a permanent location downtown in April 2013. How sweet!

Pie Pushers

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Mike Hacker and Becky Cascio launched Pie Pushers on April 1, 2011, and though their food truck is still rolling, they announced their plans to serve slices, fried Brussels sprouts and chicken wings from a brick-and-mortar version of their food truck in the space above The Pinhook in 2016 — and did. The spot is open for lunch and dinner service, as well as that steamy, late-night snack.


An extended fare of Puerto Rican cuisine including rice bowls, mofongo, empanadas, sandwiches, and more began as a food truck traversing the Triangle.
Their motto is simple, "Barriga Llena, Corazón Contento" which translates to "Full Belly, Happy Heart." Soon, they'll open their first brick and mortar location in downtown Durham across from City Hall!

It's Durham, y'all! We're moving.

About the Author

Ashley Strahm - Content and Automation Manager
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Teller of stories. Eater of food. Lover of Durham. Find me pedaling swiftly, clad in Birkenstocks, schnoodle in tow. We're not in Jersey anymore.