Keep On Truckin’
A golden brown crust protects the light and soft interior of an Ozark Mountain Biscuit Co. biscuit. Between its two halves can sit anything from Patchwork Farms ham, smoked cheddar cheese and house-made pepper jelly to fried chicken with a soft egg, fried greens and sawmill gravy, or a fried green tomato with crispy bacon or tempeh, pimento cheese and arugula. Or you can just smother the buttermilk biscuit with gravy. Every gustatory masterpiece reflects a regional, creative flavor, rooted in Ozark Mountain family heritage.
Before opening the Ozark Mountain Biscuit Co. food truck in August 2013, Executive Chef and Proprietor Bryan Maness worked as executive chef and general manager of Broadway Brewery and general manager at Café Berlin. Maness opened Ozark Mountain with his brother, Brent, and uncle, Michael — both remain partners in the business despite living in San Francisco and New Orleans, respectively. “I call general meetings quarterly to ensure we stay on the cutting edge of the biscuit business,” Maness says.
Family inspired the trio to open their own traveling biscuit-based restaurant, enamored with the low overhead costs and mobility that a food truck allows. “My family has a long history of preparing and serving delicious food,” Maness says. “My great grandfather Peck ran Peck’s Doghouse down in Searcy, Ark., in the 1950s. But the real inspiration for the biscuit truck’s cuisine comes from the Southern women in my family who made a point to prepare nutritious, home-cooked food for their families. Of course, back in the day it was all local and organic … so I guess you could say we just returned to our roots.”
Maness grew up in southern Missouri, with generations of his family born and raised throughout the Ozarks of northern Arkansas and southern Missouri. There, the Haney, Maness and Walker families sharecropped, farmed, canned and moonshined — all while developing recipes they have passed down through the years. Eventually, the recipe cards reached Maness.
“An heirloom is something of value, not necessarily economic, passed down from one generation to another,” Maness says. “Like an heirloom seed saved for planting in next spring’s garden, our recipes have been considered special enough to be handed down through the years to feed our future families and friends.”
The food truck menu boasts classic items (biscuits and gravy, greens, pie, cornbread, etc.), as well as some more unusual offerings (“Chicken Fried Chicken,” “Sooie Pig,” “Arkansauce,” etc.). With suppliers (and friends) such as Patchwork Farms, Show-Me Farms Beef, Crop Circle and farmers such as Tony Speichinger, Odie Swanigan and David Thomas, Ozark Mountain keeps its ingredients fresh, seasonal and regional.
“We source local and organic ingredients from family farmers whenever possible,” Maness says.
Fans can find the truck parked in and around Columbia throughout each week. Ozark Mountain regularly updates its website and social media sites to reflect upcoming locations. In doing so, it joins other local restaurants and bars such as Logboat Brewing and Pizza Tree who are finding success through an engag
ed and excited social media presence.
Entrepreneurship is a bumpy road. For Maness, the challenges are reflected in the words of singer/songwriter Todd Snider: “The poverty, the anxiety and some scrutiny.” The rewards, too, he says, find description in Snider’s words: “The money, the compliments and the publicity.”
Next summer, Maness plans to build a separate truck to travel to far away festivals and catering events. For those worried that Ozark Mountain may travel too far, this biscuit truck is laying down its roots in Columbia, Maness says. The company plans to open a brick and mortar location in downtown Columbia in 2016.
To follow the truck and read its full menu, visit www.ozarkmountainbiscuits.com.