CLAREMONT — When business partners Michael Hammond and John Kelley launched Epic Food Truck last July, their vision was to broaden local dining options and tap the entrepreneurial opportunities at festivals and outdoor events. They certainly didn’t anticipate that the truck would become useful in a global pandemic.
On Tuesday, the Epic Food Truck returned to Broad Street Park in Claremont, settling back into the same parking space it held during much of the summer and early fall of 2019.
Hammond, who also owns Farro’s Deli in Opera House Square, said that he initially had the Epic Food Truck ready for a beer-fest last Saturday in Killington, Vermont. When the beer-fest was cancelled at the last minute due to concerns regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it only made sense to consider beginning the season’s operation early.
“With everything going on, bringing it out now made sense,” Hammond said. “It’s safer, in the open air and more efficient to operate [than the deli right now].”
Kelley said they initially wanted to keep Farro’s open while running Epic Food Truck, with Farro’s serving Monday through Wednesday and Epic Food Truck operating the remainder of the week. But that plan became impractical following Gov. Chris Sununu’s executive order on Monday restricting restaurant services to only take-out and delivery.
Hammond said that Farro’s wouldn’t have been viable if only limited to take-out orders.
“We were very lucky to have this vehicle,” Hammond said. “Without this truck we’d be sitting at home, waiting for this situation to be over.”
In many ways, the food truck provides a safer dining option than an indoor restaurant, Hammond said. Customers don’t have to touch a door handle, and the outdoor setting allows people to maintain recommended social distances.
Additionally, Epic Food Truck is only accepting ATM or credit card payments, as cash transactions pose a greater risk of spreading germs.
With the recent addition of a phone, customers can now place their orders ahead of pick-up. Hammond said the average ticket time is about seven or eight minutes per order, so a customer’s food should be ready upon arrival.
With Farro’s closed, Hammond said he plans to incorporate a deli sandwich or salad on Epic Food Truck’s daily menu, which customers should expect to change on a day-to-day basis.
“It all depends on what suppliers and local markets have available,” according to Hammond.
Unfortunately, many vendors are sold out of many food items, as citizens are buying in greater volumes, due to anxiety and uncertainty about COVID-19 and a potential risk of being quarantined.
“I was going to run a tuna melt today, but all the tuna was sold out,” Hammond said.
Instead, Hammond improvised, offering a buffalo chicken wrap, similar to one he frequently sells at Farro’s, only this time using fried homemade chicken tenders.
Like the menu, Hammond says their days of operation are still “day-to-day.”
Epic Food Truck’s regular hours for lunch and dinner will be from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and depending on the weather should be open Monday through Friday, and possibly on Saturdays and Sundays. But customers are best advised to check Epic Food Truck’s status each day on their Facebook page.
“If the weather calls for an ice-storm and 30-degree temperatures, we’re probably not going to open that day,” Hammond said.
Weekend operations will likely depend on staff, as Hammond and Kelley will need days off. A friend of theirs, Alex Tice, is currently helping out, and Hammond said they will likely be looking for part-time help.
“Whatever we can do to help,” Hammond said.
Epic Food Truck does not have any catering or vendor events until May and June, so Hammond says they plan to keep running at Broad Street Park as long as they are permitted to continue.
“People still need to eat and they don’t always want to cook,” he said.
For take-out orders, Epic Food Truck’s number is (603) 504-5543. To see their day’s menu, visit their Facebook page, “Epic Food Truck.”