Thursdays this summer have brought quite a bit of activity to Sullivan County’s county seat (the only non-incorporated county seat among Tennessee’s 95 counties).
There’s the Blountville Farmers Market, which operates in its shed behind the historic Sullivan County Courthouse each Thursday from late spring to early autumn.
And the historic, restored Old Deery Inn has been being open limited hours on Thursdays for tours.
But the one new thing this summer that has delighted courthouse regulars, employees of nearby businesses and passersby has been the arrival each Thursday of this or that food truck at lunch time.
It started in June, spearheaded by Sullivan County Register of Deeds Sheena Ramsey Tinsely.
Tinsley spoke to the Times-News on Thursday as a steady crowded ordered and got food from Foodie Fiction, the food truck set up in front of the courthouse that day.
Each week it’s a different truck, with several joining the rotation over the last couple of months, Tinsley said.
And while she originally envisioned it being a “summertime venture,” it has proved so popular — with food truck patrons and the vendors themselves — that “Food Truck Thursday” has been scheduled through December, Tinsley said. And it is likely to continue on past then, the only breaks being due to inclement weather.
“The food trucks are interested in continuing on a year-round schedule,” Tinsley said. “They usually sell out each time they’re here. And now they’ve each began to have a following right here among employees of the courthouse and the businesses in Blountville. And also from members of the public coming to the courthouse or just passing by.”
Tinsley said when she first decided to try having a food truck come once a week, she chose Thursday as the day because it seemed a natural fit with the Blountville Farmers Market already having established Thursday as the day of the week it is open in season.
Several of the people lined up to order from Foodie Fiction on Thursday said they look forward to the chance for a little something different than the expanding, but still relatively limited choice of what to eat for lunch in Blountville.
Tinsley said she has spoken with brick-and-stick eateries in town to see if any had concerns or felt the food trucks were giving them competition, and none said they’d noticed any significant effect on their own business.
Foodie Fiction owner Michael Archdeacon said his truck’s visits to Blountville have been a welcome opportunity.
“It’s been great,” Archdeacon, a native New Yorker who attended culinary school in the Big Apple, said. “People have responded to it, and this is a great location. We’re right on the street front, not hidden away somewhere.”
Archdeacon now lives in Piney Flats, moving to Northeast Tennessee after marrying an attorney who is from Kingsport.
He’s been operating the Foodie Fiction food truck for a little more than two years.
Prior to that, he worked several years as a chef in fine dining establishments.
After finishing culinary school in New York, he worked in Hawaii and Utah and St. Thomas in the Caribbean. That’s where he met his wife. After moving to Northeast Tennessee, he for a time worked for The Troutdale, including handling catering for Eastman Chemical Co.’s retreat center at Bays Mountain.
When the couple had a child, Archdeacon chose to be a stay-at-home dad for three years.
And then they took a trip to San Francisco. And Archdeacon saw the surge in food trucks.
“I saw the whole culture of the food trucks out there,” Archdeacon said. “They were everywhere.”
And he realized there was no reason that couldn’t work here.
And for Foodie Fiction is has worked, since July 2014.
The popularity of food trucks has now expanded well past workers looking for a quick lunch near their workplace.
Now, food trucks are sought out for late night meals near popular nightspots and have become increasingly popular for wedding receptions, private parties and even dinner parties at homes.
Archdeacon said food trucks are perfect for catering, because they basically offer a commercial kitchen on wheels, so the client’s kitchen or rented venue incurs little-to-no wear and tear.
Foodie Fiction has a schedule that includes lunch at various locations, including Bristol, Gray, and Johnson City, throughout the week and evening setups at breweries anywhere between Abingdon and Kingsport.
If you want to know which truck will be in Blountville each week, visit Tinsley’s “Sheena Ramsey Tinsley, Register of Deeds” Facebook page. She said she tries to post each Thursday’s truck and its menu no later than Monday of that week. As the Times-News ended its interview with Archdeacon, Tinsley asked if Foodie Fiction could set up in Blountville Thanksgiving week — on Tuesday.
Foodie Fiction rotates throughout the Tri-Cities on a regular basis and posts its locations and menu on Facebook.
Some of the other food trucks that have been coming to Blountville have included: Purewood Firebrick Oven; Backdraft BBQ; Me & K’s; B&B BBQ; Jae’s Smoked Meat Shack; Caribbean Grill; and Pita Pocket.