There’s no question about it: America’s food truck trend is here to stay. While the concept has long been a popular one in cities like Portland and Los Angeles, Chicago is slowly but sure making its mark in the $1.2 billion industry. Long time Illinois resident and avid foodie Greg Barnhart is making a big splash in the Windy City food truck pond with Toasty Cheese Restaurant Group.
The company’s original food truck, Toasty Cheese Mobile Eatery, has established a cult-like following since first hitting the road. Customers throughout the Chicagoland area track and flock to the brightly colored truck daily for artisan grilled cheese sandwiches filled with ingredients ranging from Duck Bacon, Cilantro-Avocado Aioli and Sicilian Cherry Tomatoes to Applewood Smoked Bacon, Apple/Cabbage Slaw and Over Easy Eggs.
The overwhelming success of Toasty Cheese inspired Barnhart to expand the business. In May 2017 he launched Toasty Taco, a taqueria móvil that serves authentic street Tacos, Burritos, Quesadillas, Tortas and Tamales. Like Toasty Cheese, dishes and snacks from Toasty Taco’s chef-drive menu feature both classic fare and modern interpretations. Favorites like Steamed Corn Husk Tamales stuffed with Cheese and Street Tacos and Unsweetened Plantains topped with Duck Confit, Picked Jalapeno and Queso Fresco are built using only the best ingredients.
Last month, Barnhart’s mobile food empire grew yet again with the acquisition of Best Truckin’ BBQ and The Crave Bar. Specializing in Beef Brisket, Pulled Pork and Chicken, Best Truckin’ BBQ is all about classic American barbecue. Sandwiches stuffed with tender meat are topped with tantalizing sauces like the Spiced Pomegranate BBQ Sauce and Apple Cider Bourbon BBQ Sauce.
Founded by the folks behind Kim & Scott’s Gourmet Pretzels, The Crave Bar is an artisan ice cream bar that offers sweet & salty treats that combine rich, premium ice cream with gourmet pretzels. The result is a truly addictive, deeply satisfying dessert experience! In addition to the food truck, The Crave Bar products are also available in select retailers around Chicago.
“Best Truckin’ BBQ and The Crave Bar were both founded on the same principle of creativity and commitment to excellence that Toasty Cheese and Toasty Taco were built on,” says Barnhart. “Adding them to the Toasty Cheese Restaurant Group family made great sense.”
As with Toasty Cheese and Toasty Taco, a big part of Barnhart’s plans for both The Crave Bar and Best Truckin’ BBQ include catering both corporate and private events. All four mobile food concepts are now based in the Toasty Cheese Restaurant Group Commissary in Schaumburg, IL.
“With four different mobile food concepts under one umbrella, we are now able to create some really cool custom catering options for everything from office lunches and kids’ birthday parties to weddings and graduations,” says Barnhart.