Within the coming months, owner and operator David Gorham will permanently open food truck Honky Tonk Kid Barbecue after a soft opening earlier this month.
Since the beginning of August, the Honky Tonk Kid food truck has served customers globally-inspired barbecue from locations like the Dancing Bear Pub. Gorham’s fare offers an alternative to more traditional styles of barbecue.
“I grew up eating barbecue here in Texas,” Gorham said. “But I like venturing out and trying new stuff. I fell in love with Asian food and I wanted to find a way to bring it all together.”
Since its soft opening, Honky Tonk Kid has offered customers Hawaiian, Cuban, Italian, Moroccan and German styles of barbecue. The food truck’s flexibility has allowed Gorham, a graduate of Texas State Technical College’s culinary program, to experiment with new flavors without the high overhead of a permanent restaurant location.
“I’ve been offered my own brick-and-mortar location,” Gorham said. “But you have a lot of restrictions and overhead with that, and I want to control as much about my business as possible.”
Gorham will be joining a rapidly growing field of food trucks in Waco.
“They’re bringing new and unique things in Waco and creating things to do downtown,” said Chris McGowan, Waco’s director of urban development.
Youngdae Moon owns food truck Club Sandwich, which serves Asian-inspired sandwiches and tacos. Before the Honky Tonk Kid opened, he offered Gorham advice on the food truck business.
“We all support each other, because we’re in the same industry,” Moon said. “The more people there are who open their minds to his truck, the more people there will be who will me a shot too.”
Club Sandwich was among the first food trucks in Waco when it opened last May. Like Gorham, Moon was attracted to the food truck business because it allowed him to serve less conventional food.
“The food truck cost enables us to take risks. It shifts the dynamic of eating out, so you get a more diverse kind of food, a little more sophisticated, that’s still cheap,” Moon said.
Gorham and Moon said they are both trying to target Baylor students with this combination of novelty and affordability.
“I’m looking forward to Baylor kids coming,” Gorham said. “That’s what I like about the Dancing Bear Pub, a lot of students go there.”
However, these food trucks need to have a special appeal to attract Baylor students Moon and Gorham are looking for. Moon said he initially struggled to attract students to his food truck.
“I think being in Waco, being considered a local Waco business, it didn’t come as quickly for me as I thought,” Moon said.
But after a few devoted students began bringing friends to the truck, Club Sandwich attracted a more reliable base of Baylor customers.
“After a while, we’ve started to develop a loyal following,” Moon said.
Waco junior Emily Neel used Common Grounds’ attempt at a food truck, the Common Grounds Container, to explain college students’ dining habits.
“We only like certain things. Even though we love Common Grounds, not everyone went to the Common Grounds container,” Neel said. “Common Grounds has its own vibe, with the old chairs and furniture, that the Container didn’t have.”
Neel said the ambience is what matters most to Baylor students. She said that if they can’t find it in Waco, they’ll drive all the way to Austin or Dallas to get it. However, she thinks that food trucks in Waco are fully capable of having that kind of appeal.
“There’s that little food truck strip near the Brazos, and it’s got a good vibe,” Neel said. “I feel like people can go there and have a good vibe that they feel like they’re a part of.”
Austin senior Avery Lill said she agrees that the key to a good food truck for college students is to create a unique dining experience.
“In Austin there are more unusual food trucks than there are in Waco,” Lill said. “I think in Waco though it’s important to let people try a lot of different kinds of food. Even though the variety’s not as good as in Austin, just because there are hundreds of thousands of people there, I think it’s really important that unique Waco food stays in Waco.”
Although she hasn’t visited the Honky Tonk Kid truck yet, Lill expressed enthusiasm about the new food truck’s internationally inspired barbecue.
To stay updated on where to find Honky Tonk Kid Barbeque until their permanent opening, visit their Facebook page.