Beyond the Big Green Egg

An Atlanta food truck may be the only truck in the world with a Big Green Egg, but that isn’t the only way they are making a difference
Happy Belly Truck serves fresh and local food in Atlanta.

For those that don’t know of the Big Green Egg, there is some confusion when they approach the Happy Belly Curbside Kitchen food truck, which has the Big Green Egg logo on their truck. Some ask, "Do you put eggs on your food?" However, for the followers of the popular kamado-style grill, Happy Belly food truck is their curbside calling.

Terry Hall, the owner, partnered with the company and his food truck is the only one in the world that grills with a Big Green Egg inside the kitchen. "I have always been a huge fan and the flavor that it gives food cannot be done any other way, a little smoky, very tender."

Beyond the benefits of having Big Green Egg’s flavor in all his menu items, the mutual partnership centered around Happy Belly’s values to support local whenever possible. Big Green Egg is a local Georgia-based company. The ingredients Hall uses on his food truck support the local community: bread from chef Linton Hopkin’s restaurant Holeman & Finch, grass-fed beef from Verger Farms, and fries that are aged for 70 days.

That’s right, 70 days. They come out of the ground and are incubated for 60 days to decrease the sugar level, which also reduces the complex carbohydrates. Then Happy Belly hand-cuts the fries and on the 70th day they are ready for customers to order, fried in 100 percent pure soybean oil, free of gluten or trans-fat.

"That shows a statement of a commitment to what we do, if we’re willing to go that far with french fries," Hall says. "I think there was a mentality for food trucks to see how cheaply and quickly things can be done. But we decided to put the highest quality products out there, charge a fair market value, and we’ll build customer loyalty based on flavor. And that worked. Sure we have a $9 hamburger, but it is the best ground beef you can get your hands on. We called the farmer on Friday and get the cow on Monday. There is no middle-man. It goes straight from the farm to the table."

Or in this case, farm to curb. Hall and his wife Dawn, who is co-owner, built the company out of the frustration of trying to find fresh, made-from-scratch food on the go. He found a gap in the food truck market and realized no one was serving organic, natural foods, and no one focused on special diets. If you look at Happy Belly’s menu, you’ll see listings beside each item for vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and paleo options.

"It gives me pleasure to know that we don’t have to turn anyone away, we never have to say we can’t accommodate any request for special diets," said Hall.

New on the menu for summer is a pulled pork sandwich with bourbon BBQ sauce, sliced mango, and peach chutney and a vinegary slaw on a rosemary ciabatta bun. For the leaf eaters, a "superfood salad" with kale, blueberries, oranges, strawberries, apples, walnuts, and sage dressing is sure to give you a powerful kick of antioxidants.

The menu was built around what Hall and his wife would feed their own family so it provides a diverse offering to customers. When they serve evening dinners, Hall says the clientele is almost all families. The dad can get a savory burger, mom can get a kale salad and kids can get hot dog or mac and cheese all at one place.

When you step up to Happy Belly’s food truck, you don’t feel like you’re ordering from a food truck. You aren’t looking up into the dark unknowns of the truck’s window, attempting to yell your order past the roaring generator. Instead you’re greeted face-to-face with someone at a table outside, where they take your order from an iPad.

Hall and his wife pride themselves on building relationships with their customers. "There was never any doubt in our mind that quality was going to be the driver," he said. "I treat everyone like a king because you don’t know who is going to be in that line."

Zach Cole tasted the "Brussels for Muscles" brussel sprout dish at a concert when he couldn’t find any other healthy options. He started calling the truck to find out where they were serving, and now he works with the food truck. "I really believe in what they are doing, and working with them just shows how personable and friendly they are to their customers and staff."

The couple doesn’t see Happy Belly Curbside Kitchen as a food truck. They see it as a restaurant on wheels. Their company is moving fast-paced and now everyone wants to know what’s next. Between catering and serving lunches and dinners, the truck and its new trailer unit operate seven days a week, sometimes at up to five places a day. Hall says their next endeavor will be revealed in the near future, and hopefully they can name it after their son, who is due in August.

Their 4-year-old daughter, Mayre, is responsible for their success of the first Happy Belly food truck. It all began when she was born, when they started eating whole foods that they were using to make the baby’s food. As their health and lifestyle improved, the Halls’ realized there was a lack of education at the helm of the childhood obesity epidemic. So from the start, the truck partnered with Boys and Girls Club to donate five percent of profits to promote education programs that encourage children to eat whole foods.

And the 4-year-old doesn’t even know she’s helped one of Atlanta’s most successful food trucks. "We brought the truck to her school one day, and Mayre walked out and said, ‘That’s my truck!’ To see that from your child, to be proud of their parents, to say it tugs at your heartstrings is an understatement. Every parent wants their children to be proud of them as well."

There’s no doubt she will be. Even if right now it is just for the tasty Gouda mac and cheese.

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