CLAREMONT — Business partners Mike Hammond and John Kelley describe it as a kitchen on four wheels.
Detailed with white and gold lettering, and painted black all over, the big Epic Food Truck made its debut run at noon on a sizzling hot Friday at the North Country Smokehouse at 19 Syd Clarke Drive.
In no time at all, the company’s 100-plus employees formed long lines during lunch hour outside the truck’s service window.
On the menu were mouth-watering pulled pork sandwiches smothered in barbecue sauce, hot gravy poutine, and deep-fried smoked duck.
North Country Smokehouse, the food truck’s sponsor, supplied all the meat products.
“This isn’t just anything. This is amazing. There you go,” said food truck employee Josie Lafreniere to one hungry customer.
Lafreniere handed out the sandwich baskets as fast as she could load them. For Hammond and Kelley, it was “hustle time” working the grill and deep fryers.
“This stuff will melt in your mouth — so good,” Lafreniere said to the next person standing in line.
Sharon Companion, North Country Smokehouse office manager, said Friday’s official launch of the food truck was to help promote the new business, and her company’s sponsorship.
“This is their first real event,” Companion said. “I just had my lunch. It was very good.”
Both Hammond, 46, and Kelley, 52, are longtime friends and co-owners of Farro Deli in downtown Claremont. The deli uses North Country Smokehouse meats exclusively.
While Kelley was recuperating from a skiing accident in January, Hammond pitched his longtime dream of starting a food truck business.
“We both like the same kind of food. We were already using (North Country Smokehouse) products at the deli. It’s top of the line,” Hammond said. “It’s called ‘epic’ for a reason.”
In April, the business partners purchased a used 2004 Freightliner diesel truck, in immaculate condition, that was a U.S. Postal Service vehicle in a former life.
Hammond said the truck needed three months to be outfitted with a pair of deep fryers, a grill top, two burner stoves, freezer, refrigerator, hot water heater, and other kitchen essentials in Virginia.
On Wednesday, Hammond and Kelley held a soft opening at Claremont Cycle Depot. They also have a city vendor’s permit to operate at Broad Street Park.
Hammond said the food truck will run on a flexible schedule as a catering service at weddings, festivals, and other events.
At North Country Smokehouse on Friday, Lafreniere said the food was “worth the wait.”
North Country employee Justin Rowe of Claremont was quick to agree.
The food was delicious, he said, “although I didn’t have the pulled pork. I had the duck fry things.”
“It’s really good,” said employee Ellen Donatelli of Unity. “The pulled pork — yes. They’re pretty good to us here.”