Craig Hoge proudly mans his bright-yellow bread truck, which is decked out with pictures of anthropomorphic sausages and tiny hearts. It's an eye-catching homage to “anything meaty, tasty and juicy,” as he describes the products he will serve from the Lovin' Tenders food truck, which opens this week on Haywood Road at the intersection with Louisiana Avenue (across from Ingles).
A selection of chicken, pork and steak tenders in different styles will issue from the carry-away window. Get them battered and fried or grilled on Hoge's 6-foot char-broil grill. They come in three, five, 10 and 20-piece boxes to suit the peckish, hungry and famished.
“I'm mainly going for street food,” Hoge says. “The street-food culture is one of the biggest, growing markets in the food business.” Accordingly, he'll also offer sausages, such as bratwurst and weisswurst.
Sides include German potato salad, curly sweet-potato fries and grilled vegetable sticks. Lovin' Tenders also does dessert, including Frushi, Hoge's personal creation that combines coconut sticky rice and fruit in a soy-paper wrapper. “It's this wonderful-looking dessert that looks like sushi, but it's not,” he says. “It's something that I made up.”
For the specials, he has more elaborate plans. He's starting out with a London broil and bearnaise sauce dish, and he hopes to include seitan, goat, alligator, bison, lamb and even soft-shell crab in that rotation.
All in all, Lovin' Tenders serves an idiosyncratic mash-up of global cuisines and novelty meats.
Hoge came to Asheville three years ago from Memphis, Tenn., where he owned an eatery called Great Lil' Place, and, before that, worked as food and beverage manager at The Memphis Zoo and Mud Island River Park.
While Hoge is opening this week in West Asheville, he'll soon have a presence at The Lot on Coxe on Saturdays. The city allows 10 food trucks to operate out of that parking lot, which was at capacity until recently. Lovin' Tenders will take the place of Our Taco Truck.
Marni Graves, owner of Our Taco Truck, says she has closed the business to focus on her career at Spaceplan Architecture. "I opened the food truck when the construction industry fell so bad," she says. "I'm a licensed architect, so I'm going to pursue that more."
She plans to sell the truck and equipment online.
For more information about Lovin' Tenders, visit http://www.lovintenders.com or check out the truck’s Facebook page.