Folkfood is the latest Northeast Florida food truck going brick-and-mortar; at its grand opening last week, a steady influx of hungry and epicurious humans got to see inside its new Hogan Street digs. The restaurant is tiny, so the horde of customers could have been problematic, but owner Ryan Reid is used to the bustle. After less than a year of the food truck world’s grueling grind, the transition from truck to brick might be the fastest on record, zooming to completion in less than five months. But when you know, you know, and Reid says he knew it was time to go stationary.
Reid grew up in Georgia, from whence he gets his inspiration for Southern meals with a modern twist. Eventually, circumstances led him to Jacksonville. In May, he opened Folkfood (the truck version), which quickly became a favorite of the urban core nine-to-fivers. Reid says that the response Folkfood received when it would post up among the bustle of a revitalized Hemming Park encouraged him to realize the opportunity to go brick-and-mortar was well within reach. Lucky for him, Skyway Café was selling its Hogan location. Reid jumped at the chance, abandoning the food truck altogether. (If you’re planning to start up a food truck, he’s got a lead on a gently used one in need of a new owner).
Though he isn’t keeping the truck, he is keeping a food-truck-sized menu, sticking to a few staple items (like pulled pork and fish tacos) rotating the remaining selections. Folkfood will always have a couple of homemade desserts on offer to round off each meal, as well as some local brews once the restaurant is licensed. Reid is establishing a sense of community supporting local businesses when possible, from including Bold City Brewery’s Duke’s Brown Ale in Folkfood’s mac-and-cheese to helping to support Dandelion House, a local nonprofit promoting the dignity and self-worth of people with disabilities.
I’m always up for pulled pork and fish tacos, but I wanted to branch out. I hadn’t had meatloaf for a while, so I thought, why not? I was hungry, and the meatloaf sounded hearty. My idea of meatloaf: a hamburger in loaf form with a drizzle of ketchup (sorry, Mom). Reid’s idea (thank goodness) of meatloaf: a steamy, soft blend of beef, pork, and vegetables, with a curry sauce light years beyond Heinz 57 ($9). The curry sauce was so good, it could work as a dipping sauce for fries, chicken, vegetables, even ice cream – hey, I’d be willing to try it.
I could write a page on Folkfood’s kale salad, but I’ll keep it to a paragraph. The salad ($3) is sold as a side or an entrée, and you can add fish or chicken. Colorful, crunchy kale leaves and grapefruit chunks made it pretty and tasty. Each bite was tart and sweet, with tons of flavor from the dressing. The dish is simple, with few ingredients, yet the flavors are magical. Next time, I’ll get it as an entrée.
Reid knew what he wanted when he first opened the food truck version of Folkfood: a down-to-earth place that had the potential to become something bigger. Folkfood took that dream and ran with it, prepared to make its mark on Jacksonville. With a success story of truck-to-brick within six months, and plenty of love from the community, I’d say Folkfood has everything it needs to be a new Downtown favorite.