Just as we started getting excited about new food trucks starting in Syracuse, I learned of one becoming a sensation in my hometown of Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. Two friends, experienced in the restaurant industry, found an old London double decker, and followed their entrepreneurial inspiration. In the fall of 2012, they began serving internationally inspired dishes out of that refurbished 1958 London double decker bus they call, ‘Miss Victoria.’
A life-long anglophile and food enthusiast, I was eager to dine on the bus. I followed Two Blokes and a Bus on Facebook before I finally made it back to central Illinois. While on holiday in Illinois last week, my family and I chose a lovely evening to walk out to the bus, which according to the Facebook page, was parked about a mile from our home that evening.
We smelled the food cooking before we saw the bus. Neighbors—all drawn out by the enticing aromas, greeted each other in the queue. A woman in front of us joked that a make shift block party was forming in the parking lot. This mobile ‘bustaurant’ was bringing neighbors together.
After ordering our food from the side window, we headed upstairs to find a seat. European style seating—if there is an open spot, you are welcome to it. My family and I slid into one of the long booths across from another family. It was their first time on the bus too. We were all clearly happy to be there, and they gave the food brilliant reviews. After they left, some loyal bus regulars joined us. We chatted about how great the fresh local ingredients were, and when our food arrived we all took pictures of one another’s dishes. I had steak kabobs with sticky rice, one of the blokes’ most popular items. The food is beautifully presented in traditional street food trays.
Before long, Steffan Block, one of the two owners, came up to check on us. He shared stories about England, and how the bus got started. By the time I finished eating, I actually felt like we were all old friends. We finished the meal with Panna Cotta, eggless custard, topped with mango ginger. About to leave, we bumped into another acquaintance, and took time to catch up. In this fun and friendly atmosphere, you certainly do not want to rush your meal.
Steffan says there are some other mobile food businesses starting in Bloomington-Normal this summer. He has been helping them get started. In the world of food trucks, the more the merrier really is true. Larger cities have events where dozens of food trucks come to the same location to offer food and entertainment. Some cities even have food truck hubs, where multiple trucks park and share an indoor seating area. We hope Syracuse’s food trucks will create the same sense of connectivity the blokes achieved in Illinois.
Read up on Syracuse’s food trucks and carts at the following links: