HOOPESTON — Food trucks and trailers can usually be found catering to throngs of customers in the biggest cities, such as Chicago, and even larger local cities such as Champaign, as well as serving the masses who pass through area fairs and festivals each year.
But now, new eating options have rolled into Vermilion County in a whole new location — Hoopeston.
In August, Varela Taco Wagon and Smokin’ Joes BBQ became the latest mobile food trailers licensed in Vermilion County this year, obtaining food permits from the county in June and August respectively.
For husband-wife owners Joe and Chris Mullen, Smokin Joe’s BBQ promptly set up along Illinois Route 9 in Hoopeston. Sitting in an open four-acre lot, the food truck set up stands out to passersby driving east and west along the state highway. Circular picnic tables with red umbrellas offer an eating area for customers interested in remaining on-site to enjoy the food.
Along Hoopeston’s other main thoroughfare, area residents can find the newest supplier of Mexican food with Doris Varela of Rankin and her daughters supplying a variety of tacos from their brightly colored trailer parked in front of the Dollar General Store parking lot.
For Varela, a longtime interest in the restaurant business attracted her to make the move of opening the food trailer.
“The girls sold a couple hot dogs at town-wide garage sales and I’ve always wanted to do the restaurant thing,” he said. “I’ve just never had the money and the backbone to support anything.”
For the Mullens, setting up in one location is a new venture after traveling to a number of festivals around central Indiana last year.
“When we moved back here we were going to bring the trailer back and our full intent was to do the Sweet Corn Festival, other festivals around here,” Joe said. But a conversation with his cousin, who owns the land they are using, brought the idea of being a stationary vendor to the forefront.