Barrie’s best-kept secret has been tucked away for too long and it's time Southern Sundayz food truck was everybody’s meal stop.
For nearly three months, the cuisine truck has been parked at 116 Dunlop St. E., in an open public space/alleyway, serving up home-cooked, southern-style food to the downtown crowd.
Fried chicken, chicken and waffles, collard greens and cornbread are just some of the delicious items on the menu that owner Stacy Bowen is happy to cook as a shout out to the many years she enjoyed in Alabama.
“I used to always have these awesome tailgates, as I lived in Alabama for over 20 years. When I moved home about six years ago, everyone told me I should sell my wings because they felt they were so good,” Bowen said. “I joked with them saying they were just saying that or they were just hungry, but seriously I thought about it and realized I loved cooking and why shouldn’t I take a chance on it.
“So 11 weeks ago we opened up the truck and have been here ever since.”
Bowen attended school in Alabama and has spent much of her life travelling around and seeing the world.
While very proud of her Canadian home and all the country offers, she admits that once you become a member of what is known as the Crimson Tide family, you never let that go.
“My family brought me here from Jamaica when was about three years old and I went to high school at C.W. Jefferys, where I received a track scholarship to the University of Alabama,” Bowen said. “I was also running for Canada at the time so I would stay down there and train and head back and forth to Europe for competitions.
“I was able to see a lot because of track, but I will always pride myself on my Alabama connection. Roll Tide!”
Track took the athletic Bowen far in life, but it was time to move from that to another career and passion. Being in the construction field for a while had Bowen talk with a fellow worker and friend who told her she needed to pursue the food truck idea and get her home cooking out to the public.
Once a location was found, Bowen went all in and is loving it.
“I had a friend in construction who knew someone with a club and we first thought that location would work, but it seemed very secluded,” she said. “We looked at this spot and it was perfect, although when we tell some people how long we’ve been open, they can’t believe they didn’t see us sooner.
“But once they know they keep coming back.”
Cooking wasn’t just a hobby for Bowen as she really enjoyed it and was able to be a big help to fellow students at the University of Alabama. Like Bowen, many of her friends were studying in a state that was far from home, so home cooking was a rarity for the students. The friendly Canadian in her jumped at the chance to help out.
“Cooking certainly was always a passion of mine and something that I feel brings a community together,” Bowen said. “When I was down at school and you couldn’t get home for Thanksgiving or holidays, I would be the one who was always cooking for everyone. I would tell everyone to just come over and I would cook, don’t waste your travel money just stay here I’d say and we would have our own family-like dinner.”
In less than three months, the Southern Sundayz food truck is extending hours and adjusting as they see where their crowd is.
With Dunlop Street being a lively area on the weekends, Bowen says it is her busiest time and she and her staff are making sure everyone gets to eat.
“I used to come at midnight on Saturday to catch the club crowd, but I saw that people were waiting for me, so we tried 11 p.m., then 10 p.m. and now this Saturday I’m actually going to be here at 8 p.m. and catch the dinner crowd and power through until 3:30 a.m.” Bowen said.
“But I love this crowd and this city,” she added. “Everyone has been amazing, from the people who assisted me to get the permits to the police who always pop by and ask if we’re good or need anything on a hectic weekend and our customers.
“There was one time our customers were dancing in front of the truck while they were waiting for food. It’s so much fun and we feel very blessed to be here.”
Check out Southern Sundayz on Instagram at @southern_sundayz and on Facebook for when they’re open at Southern Sundayz.