After years of anticipation, research, planning, and creating, two Virginia Tech food trucks — The Grillfield and Periodic Table — have arrived on campus and are preparing to open on Monday, Aug. 22. On Thursday, Aug. 25, at 10 a.m., a ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place on the Drillfield.
“The Grillfield and Periodic Table are the culmination of years of diligent work by Dining Services and many others, including university and Division of Student Affairs leadership, our chefs, our student advisory committee, the Student Government Association, and our customers, who gave us feedback on everything from the name and look of each truck to the final menu offerings,” said Bill Hess, associate director of Dining Services. “We are very proud to bring the best possible food trucks to our award-winning dining program and our great campus.
“Our culinary mission was to develop unique and innovative menus on each truck that are fast to prepare, portable, flavorful, and keep customers coming back. You will see that our team delivered on that promise.”
Both The Grillfield and Periodic Table follow the trend of food trucks, steering clear of a predictable menu.
The Grillfield will feature Latino-fusion foods, including Smoked Pulled Pork Tortas and Beef Barbacoa Tortillas. Periodic Table will serve Asian-fusion meals, such as Thai Peanut Pork Rice Bowl and Lemongrass Chicken Yaki-Ramen. Each truck will feature chef specials as well.
“As we move forward with chef specials, we’ll look at their popularity,” said Randall Van Dyke, executive chef at D2 at Dietrick Hall. “As they evolve, they may become part of the regular menu, and we’ll create new chef specials. We envision that the menu will change with the seasons.”
During the past few years, Van Dyke has tirelessly worked to create menus for each truck.
His research for the food?
“I challenge myself to visit food trucks wherever I go,” said Van Dyke. “Some people pay high prices to call a restaurant and make reservations to sample the 'chef’s tasting menu.’ I just run around the city chasing food trucks and make my own culinary adventure.”
Both The Grillfield and Periodic Table were custom built to Dining Services’ specifications by On the Move Food Trucks out of Boerne, Texas. The trucks are built on Ford F550 chassis trucks for durability and easy maintenance, and they include unique industry features that position Virginia Tech as a leader in the world of university food trucks, like a slide-out that allows face-to-face customer interaction with Dining Services staff.
In addition, extra insulation was installed, along with heaters for comfort in those cold winter months and two rooftop air conditioners for reprieve from the Blacksburg heat. Each truck has a video menu board and portable point-of-sale systems to allow transactions to be completed inside or outside of the truck.
The graphics and visual designs of the truck were created by Division of Student Affairs’ communications and innovative technologies graphic designers in collaboration with Dining Services graphic designers.
Due to storage capacity, the food trucks will serve a predefined number of meals per day, as they’re made to sell out. Lunch will be served Monday through Friday, from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. or until food runs out. Dinner will be served in the Oak Lane community Sunday to Wednesday, from 5 to 9 p.m. or until food runs out. The food trucks will park on Alumni Mall for late night service Thursday to Saturday, from 8 p.m. to midnight or until food runs out. The experience will be enhanced by music from a top-of-the-line speaker system and LED lights illuminating the truck.
The two trucks will be located in underserved areas across campus. Tentative locations include the parking lot between Hahn, Derring, and Pamplin halls; Goodwin Hall circle; Litton-Reaves/Life Sciences 1 access drive; and Southgate/Sterrett Street area. These locations are subject to change based on customer traffic.
In addition, the trucks will be parked in Hokie Village at multiple home football games. In time, The Grillfield and Periodic Table will be available for special occasions and catering for campus events.
“The generations we feed here at Virginia Tech grew up with the Food Network,” said Van Dyke. “They have an open mind to new and exciting foods, and they want to have an adventure when it comes to eating. It’s no longer, ‘I’m just going to eat for sustenance and run.’ They want an experience that they can share with others, and the food trucks will give them just that.”
This summer, Robert Obst was hired as the food trucks’ chef de cuisine. Prior to coming to Virginia Tech, Obst ran his own food truck in central Virginia.
“It’s incredible to have the opportunity to get these trucks started from scratch at such a nationally acclaimed program,” said Obst.
“We anticipate these food trucks will allow us to expand our services while, at the same time, supporting other missions here at the university,” said Ted Faulkner, director of Dining Services. "The campus community is genuinely excited about these trucks being a part of our program."
Written by Holly Paulette.
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