The University of Memphis, alongside dining partner Chartwells, has now added food trucks to campus Tuesdays and Wednesdays, providing a variety of choices for students while the University Center dining hall is still partially under renovation.
Food trucks set up in front of the administration building, with other locations coming soon. If a student is searching for a certain truck, they can download the Street Food Finder app on their smartphones, which will allow students to locate food trucks not only on campus but throughout the greater Memphis area.
Timothy Hart, Memphis alumnus and owner of Primal Grill, said being back at his alma mater is a huge deal for him and the company.
“I was so hyped up this morning I got lost twice on the campus that I went to,” Hart said. “I didn’t know where I was going, but I was just so excited about being on campus.”
Hart said being on campus is not just about money but recognition and connecting with the students.
“The exposure and getting food in the up-and-coming students means a lot for the future of my business,” Hart said. “Most kids end up getting a job in the city where they went to school, so hopefully a lot of these students will become my future customers permanently.”
So far, students seem satisfied with the current situation with food trucks as far as variety goes. Lawrence Dillion, a supply chain management major, said the food trucks bring something new to the UofM campus and further the uniqueness of the university.
“I like the fact that they are bringing food trucks on campus,” Dillon said. “I think the food trucks bring an external environment of Memphis to this campus.”
Gijs Weijkamp, a political science major, said the new food trucks being added to available dining services provide more variation and possibly fresher ingredients.
“The trucks are really good, there’s more variation on campus,” Weijkamp said. “I bet the food is better, instead of frozen like the food from the Tiger Den.”
Having spoken to students dining at the two food trucks, MemPops and Primal Grill, I decided to see what all the fuss was about. I chose Primal Grill, a truck that offered a variety of chicken and barbeque options. After waiting in line for over 20 minutes I went for what Hart’s truck described as the “world’s best BBQ chicken nachos,” priced at $10. Having placed my order, I then proceeded to wait an additional 40 minutes for my name to be called. Based on my experience, students looking to avoid the long lines at Chick-fil-A in the UC will not find any respite at the food trucks Tuesday and Wednesdays.
While the wait and price at the food trucks would certainly have turned some students away, the food truck initiative should not be judged from today’s experience alone. Each week, the trucks visiting campus will differ, providing UofM students a lot more variety than they are accustomed to from on-campus dining.