Chattanooga's food truck scene is expanding yet again with the addition of Local Slice, which will bring wood-fired pizza to the streets in the next few months.
"My family has always made our own pizza for as long as I can remember," owner Justin Bennett said Friday.
The Red Bank High School graduate recently worked with his uncle, who is a baker and owner of The Bread Peddler in Monteagle, Tenn., learning the craft of baking.
Originally, he had an interest in opening a bakery, but the idea soon evolved, Bennett said. He knew there was no way he could find enough money to open a brick-and-mortar storefront. But a food truck seemed like a more cost-effective possibility, he said.
"It hit me that I should do wood-fired pizza instead of a bakery," he said.
He scoured the Internet and found an old bread truck that he purchased Monday for $3,000. The truck is now an empty shell, and he is going to do as much work on it as he can and then send it off to get the oven installed.
The menu is going to be unique, he said. He'll offer weekly specials, pizza by the slice, and 10- and 15-inch pizzas.
"We're trying not to be run-of-the-mill pepperoni pizza," he said.
For example, he makes a potato pizza with thinly sliced, sauteed potatoes; bacon; caramelized onions; and rosemary.
This time last year, there were only two.
Pure Sodaworks, which makes small batches of natural sodas with organic herbs, spices and produce, also frequents events with the food trucks and other mobile vendors, although they also have a storefront in Coolidge Park.
And Sophie Epstein has turned a 1978 Volkswagen van into Le Bubble Bus, where she will sell bubble tea.
According to Le Bubble Bus' Facebook page, bubble tea originated in Taiwan. It's a cold beverage that is made up of sweetened tea with milk flavorings. It's typically served over tapioca pearls, and a large straw is used to eat the "bubble pearls" at the bottom of the drink.
Leaders of each truck recently created a coalition called the Chattanooga Street Food Project. The coalition provides a more organized effort and standards, such as high inspection scores.
Bennett said that he has talked with some members of the coalition, and owner of Famous Nater's Nathan Flynt said their motto is "the more the merrier."
"Another truck is going to bring another dimension of what we're doing," he said. "It just makes the landscape of what we're doing that much better and more diverse. The more choices, the more people will show up, and that's what we want. We want this to really animate the downtown."