Southern Nibble, a food truck specializing in South Carolina Lowcountry style food, opened in January of this year.
Husband-wife team Caleb and Charmaine Messinger said they hope they can help future would-be mobile business owners navigate the bureaucratic process.
The food “is directly inspired by where we grew up,” said Charmaine, referring to Beaufort, S.C., where the two met in high school and 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 up 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 seafood is locally acquired), two of the items customers mentioned returning for to the truck.
“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.
“‘Wow’ would be a word to describe the food we had coming out of Southern Nibble food truck last night,” said Jay Pederson, who travels full-time in a solar powered RV with his wife Leslie.
“Leslie had the pulled pork sliders with mac and cheese as a side and I had the pulled chicken sliders with french fries as my side,” Pederson said.
“[We] first noticed when we opened the covers on our to-go containers the generous portions. Both the pork and chicken were moist and tender, the Carolina sauce in the pulled pork slider was excellent and the slaw had apple bits in it. The chicken slider had aioli sauce and slaw as well. The buns were brioche style and very fresh.
“The mac and cheese was flavorful and cheesy and the fries were cooked perfectly with slight crispy without soggy texture.”
Neighbor Ruth Little, co-owner of nearby Dockside Grill, wrote, “The Messingers are a great friendly family, they have good homemade, fresh food. Love their chicken wings, all flavors. Unique food! Must try!”
The truck can be found from noon-8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays, and every other Thursday 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m., at its primary location at John Wayne’s Waterfront Resort, 2634 W. Sequim Bay Road. On the other Thursday, find the truck 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 Messingers work together in harmony, buying and preparing food, homeschooling their children and working on the homestead they share with Caleb’s grandparents, and cooking and serving 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 a star athlete in high school.
Operating their own food truck has been a dream the Messingers 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.
That process included acquiring a truck in Miami and getting it to Sequim, to dealing with bureaucracy during the pandemic and Sequim’s city code for mobile service vendors. (See past Sequim Gazette articles for more about the city code or the city at codepublishing.com/WA/Sequim/html/Sequim18/Sequim1865.html.)
Caleb said that “we started the process with L&I [Labor & Industries] in July of 2021 and we were eighth in line … For mobile units, there was one plan reviewer working for the entire state of Washington.” He said the man took the month of October off and two weeks off in August.
The Messingers persistently contacted everyone who could be possibly involved with messages and phone calls 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.
Inspection of the Southern Nibble by the local 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 said. “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.”
Food truck specializing in South Carolina Lowcountry style food
When/Where: Noon-8 p.m. Tuesdays, Fridays; 11:30-5 p.m. every other Thursday, John Wayne’s Waterfront Resort, 2634 W. Sequim Bay Road, or R. Corner Grocery, 256421 U.S. Highway 101
More info: facebook.com/Southern-Nibble-110304091449486, 360-460-2436