SEQUIM — Husband-wife team Caleb and Charmaine Messinger, who operate Southern Nibble, said they hope they can help future would-be mobile business owners navigate the bureaucratic process.
The food truck specializing in South Carolina Lowcountry food, opened in January in the Sequim area.
Getting to that point wasn’t an easy process, said the Messingers who maintained they had to open without all the proper paperwork to get the attention of those who needed to be involved.
They had brought a truck from Miami to Sequim, dealt with city requirements (codepublishing.com/WA/Sequim/html/Sequim18/Sequim1865.html) and started the process with state L&I [Labor & Industries] in July 2021.
“We were eighth in line,” Caleb said. “For mobile units, there was one plan reviewer working for the entire state of Washington,” and that person was out of the office for several weeks.
The Messingers persistently contacted everyone who could be possibly involved, they said, and were mostly ignored until they opened their doors without completing the official steps in December.
They were promptly turned in by an unknown person and the process was finally jump-started, the Messingers said.
Inspection of the Southern Nibble by the county health department was one of the final steps and the most efficient and helpful, the Messingers said.
“They’re the reason we’re up and running; they wanted to help us — by the book,” Caleb said.
“I just don’t want this process [becoming a mobile food service vendor] to be so difficult for other people,” he added. “We want to be an advocate… It shouldn’t be so hard. Let’s change some things for everybody.
“If everyone’s thriving, our community will thrive even more.”
Now operating, the food truck ordinarily can be found from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays and from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. every other Thursday at its primary location at John Wayne’s Waterfront Resort, 2634 W. Sequim Bay Road. On the other Thursday, find it at R. Corner Grocery, 256421 U.S. Highway 101.
At times they dish up at Hanger 19, 2506 W. 19th St. in Port Angeles, or a festival or other events. The best way to keep an eye on their schedule and the variations in the menu is to check online at facebook.com/Southern-Nibble-110304091449486.
The food “is directly inspired by where we grew up,” said Charmaine, referring to Beaufort, S.C., where the two met in high school. They both worked in restaurants until moving with Caleb’s grandparents to the Olympic Peninsula six years ago.
“We just wanted to bring the Lowcountry to the north,” Caleb said.
Southern Nibble serves a variety of dishes in eco-friendly to-go containers. Except for the french fries and canned and bottled drinks, everything is prepared from scratch from ingredients bought fresh, from the candied pecans and citrus vinaigrette of “The Fancy” salad to the pulled pork that takes 12-14 hours of slow roasting.
Some menu items rotate, but there are always sliders and a shrimp dish.
“The shrimp burger originated in Beaufort,” said Charmaine, “and shrimp and grits in the low country.”
With an uncle who is a shrimp boat captain, Charmaine said she knows a lot about shrimp.
Operating their own food truck has been a dream the Messingers have worked toward since employment at the restaurants in Beaufort that inspired their menu. The process has been long and challenging, they said, including saving for more than six years for the start-up capital.
Now they work together buying and preparing food, homeschooling their children and working on the homestead they share with Caleb’s grandparents. They cook and serve on the three or more days a week the food truck is open for business.
In addition, Caleb is active in coaching youth sports.
“Sports is our avenue to help kids,” said Caleb, who was an athlete in high school.
For more information, see facebook.com/Southern- Nibble-110304091449486 or call 360-460-2436.
Emily Matthiessen is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.