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New food truck to bring Southern flair to Columbia

Saturday, August 10, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:48 p.m. CDT, Saturday, August 10, 2013
Bryan Maness, owner of the Ozark Mountain Biscuit Company, prepares fried pimento cheese balls Sunday. Maness is opening his first food truck at the end of August, and the menu is full of classic Southern cooking.

COLUMBIA — After a year of planning, Bryan Maness finally rolled his food truck into town Thursday.

After driving it up from Florida, Maness hopes to have his truck — emblazoned with his orange-and-brown Ozark Mountain Biscuit Company logo — on the streets for a series of soft openings later this month.

His focus is on serving up local, seasonal food with a Southern influence and a gourmet twist. Almost everything on the menu is served on a biscuit.

Many of the vegetables Maness will use in his dishes are grown in his front-yard garden patch or pickled by hand. What he can't grow, he purchases from other local farmers.

Maness said his focus on high-quality ingredients meant he needed to use local food.

"The freshness is better, and that makes better food in the end," Maness said. "My desire to make the best possible food requires that we use local farmers."

Lower overhead opening costs and the ability to drive his truck wherever business is made Maness choose a food truck rather than a brick and mortar restaurant of his own.

"There's more flexibility with a food truck," Maness said. "You have the ability to change and roll with the times."

Maness chose to buy a truck with a custom kitchen. He considered constructing his own truck "for about fifteen seconds" but decided he would leave the building up to experts so he could have his truck faster.

After years of working in restaurants, he said he is excited to work in a kitchen tailor-made to his specifications. He opted for a truck with a new kitchen instead of a used vehicle with someone else's kitchen.

"Working in kitchens for a long time, you realize efficiency is everything," Maness said. "I'm really looking forward to cooking out of a brand-new kitchen."

As Maness prepares his truck, he's also become an advocate for other food truck vendors in Columbia. He is working with the city to help draft an ordinance that would allow food trucks to set up shop on city streets.

"Inadvertently I kind of became an organizer of other food trucks in town," Maness said. "It's been a really enlightening process and a really positive process to work through levels of city government and other interested parties."

Supervising editor is Quint Smith.


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