The bold and delectable smells of Barrio, the popular Latin-inspired restaurant in downtown, are now making their way around Bend. That would be the work of Barrio's new food truck, which chef/owner Stephen Draheim launched just last year.
Though it may seem like Barrio is jumping on the ever-growing bandwagon, the food truck is actually a return to Draheim's roots, when he and then co-owner Joel Cordes peddled tacos and soup out of little carts by The Blacksmith.
"The cart was literally six feet long and held barely just enough to handle a busy lunch. You had to push it or tow it behind a car," Draheim says.
Draheim made a concentrated effort last year after he saw a Craigslist ad for a retired FedEx truck in Washington state. (FedEx retires trucks after 300,000 miles. They typically end up in the lots of used car garages or specialized dealers.) After a nine-hour drive and "a great deal and clean title," Draheim was the proud owner of a new food truck ... after applying some elbow grease, of course. G&S Custom Fabrications was tasked with the conversion. The team there specializes in restoring and customizing hot rods and classic cars, but Draheim says they were eager to tackle something different.
"I think for a lot of people, it's the freedom of being able to call your own shots, make your own hours. There's more flexibility and freedom to do what you want. If you're the chef or sous-chef of a restaurant, you're cooking the restaurant's menu day in and day out. With food trucks, obviously, you want to be consistent, but there's more flexibility from an artistic standpoint. I think customers are drawn to that," he says.
"They took a lot of pride in this job," he says. "It's their first food truck, and it was a custom job on a blank shell. They made sure it rolled out of their garage looking and working good. I'm super happy with the job they did."
The 30-foot-long Barrio food truck sports a full-kitchen and refrigeration system, outdoor speakers, and an instantly recognizable paint job. The entire setup can be manned by three chefs, and the focused menu includes the popular Barrio themes—spicy, Mexican-inspired flavors—while also allowing for more flexibility and freedom.
"Since we got the truck loaded up with equipment and firepower, we can put out a lot of food fairly quick," Draheim says. "You got a little more freedom being outside of the kitchen. As much as it's more efficient to stay within our Barrio profile, we have done events where we're showcasing what the client wants. We've done smoked trout, rib-eyes, vegetarian menus, and more."
The truck was initially used for the 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. lunch rush, (Draheim: "We tried doing a lunch thing over at Natural Edge; Mike Ross [owner of Natural Edge] even built a giant table outside.") Not long after, they began to focus exclusively on catering events.
"We ended up dipping into our lunch schedule, and we couldn't be there every day," Draheim says. "There'd be weeks where we'd say, 'We're going to be here Monday and Tuesday, but we'll be gone Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.' It's crazy with weddings—people want to book caterers a year out."
Draheim says the food truck catered over 20 events last year, driving out to Dark Lake, Camp Sherman and Deschutes National Park, among many other places. He expects a similar schedule this year, but adds, "Hopefully, you'll be seeing us downtown more often soon."
Anyone interested in rolling Barrio's food truck out to their next event can visit barriobend.com to fill out a request or find more information.