By Kathy Harvatt
Kerry Meier has a passion for “feeding people” – a passion she has fully embraced as the co-owner of Low-co-Motion, a farm-to-food truck business that is fast building a loyal family of followers – not to mention a five-star rating – along the highways and byways of North Georgia.
Her journey into Atlanta’s food truck community actually began several years ago in Charleston, South Carolina, where she found her inspiration working in restaurants that specialized in Low Country “scratch cooking” with fresh, locally sourced ingredients – from produce to seafood. In fact, as Kerry is quick to point out, “the farm-to-table movement there totally changed my perspective around cooking and eating.”
After forming a partnership with two of her Charleston colleagues, Kerry put together a successful business plan for mobilizing a “restaurant business on wheels” that would serve farm-fresh, Low Country comfort food.
“Everything was coming together nicely until both of my partners conked out on me just eight weeks before the money was supposed to drop. I pouted for a year and a half after that happened.”
But fate eventually intervened when Kerry’s brother-in-law Jason Jewett, an experienced restauranteur in Atlanta, proposed that she join forces with him to get a farm-to-food truck up and running there. Intrigued by the prospect, they embarked on an exploratory mission to Charleston, which brought them even closer to sealing the deal. And less than 90 days later – on Friday the 13th, 2016, no less – a flatbed arrived in Georgia with their “Big Blue” truck on board – a lucky delivery that gave birth to Low-Co-Motion, their increasingly successful mobile food service and events catering enterprise.
According to Kerry, it is the hardest job she’s ever had. “But I also love what I do. I am essentially my own boss given that the only person I have to check in with is my partner. And I can pick and choose where and how I source my ingredients and experiment with new variations on traditional Low-Country cooking. Food is so culturally sensitive, if you will, and I really enjoy creating that connection for others.”
The Low-Co-Motion menu features an enticing assortment of sandwiches, soups and sides, made with love and a distinctly gourmet twist. For example, Kerry’s OMG BLT is anything but ho-hum, with its hand-candied brown sugar and cayenne bacon and homemade roasted garlic aioli; hydroponic Bibb lettuce and locally grown tomatoes. Likewise, Low-Co-Motion rotates its selections on a seasonal basis; and with winter almost here, Kerry is expanding their soup menu from three to eleven revolving varieties.
Of course, as with any innovative business, there are always challenges along the way to success. In the food truck industry, they are, for the most part, regulatory in nature, given that most brick and mortar restaurants view these mobile eateries as “unfair” competition, given their inherently lower overhead. So, food truck owners are often hit with regulatory fees that take a sizeable bite out of their profits.
“Here in Atlanta, you must not only be invited to park, but also pay for the privilege with permit and lot fees that can run upwards of $200 a day. On top of that, we have to have a brick and mortar commercial kitchen. Up until now, as members of the The Food Movement group, we have shared a commissary kitchen – along with a lot of mutual support – with more than a dozen other truck owners. But since we’re going to need our own space soon, we are already looking around in some of the older strip malls close to home for something we can afford.”
Still, determined to keep moving, Kerry and Jason continue to open new avenues for customized events catering – such as movie sets and corporate lunches – while also finding ways to give back to their North Georgia community by donating healthy food to those in need. As Kerrie puts it, “I loathe the idea of letting anyone go hungry – which is why feeding people is so ingrained in me. And this business allows us to do that on our terms.”
So, for now, the Low-Co-Motion partners will leave the regulatory battles to someone else, as they follow their culinary passion from the farm to the truck to the tables of Atlanta.
Paige Nathan joined the MPI Georgia Chapter in November 2018 and is the Chief of Food Trucks at Food with Purpose – Culinary Events on Wheels. Founded in 2015, this Atlanta-based premier food truck catering connector has a passion for bringing people together. She is a culinary entrepreneur and promotes locally sourced food. Partnering with the most sought-after food trucks in the “ATL” and around the country, the Food with Purpose team provides distinctive culinary events for 50 to 5,000 guests in both indoor and outdoor settings. From employee appreciation days, grand openings, and professional meetings to community gatherings and family celebrations, Paige delivers seamless culinary experiences without all the fuss and muss of traditional catering. And, no kitchens required.
She firmly believes there is no greater purpose than building strong, sustainable communities. As such, Paige actively partners with clients to incorporate eco-friendly products at their events as well as tapping into other food truck owners who also rely on locally sourced foods. Whenever possible, the team coordinates opportunities to donate funds and even leftover food to those in need. In her down time, Paige volunteers with Slow Food Atlanta, The Giving Kitchen, and Wholesome Wave. Colleagues, clients, and food truck partners describe Paige as energetic, thoughtful, responsive, and passionate about what she does.
Paige and the Food with Purpose team have developed an impressive client list which includes Home Depot, Mercedes Benz, Atlanta Falcons, IHG, Georgia State University, and Bluecat Productions (Netflix's Ozark) establishing a reputation for providing responsive, timely, and efficient services from start to finish. Food with Purpose was also selected to participate as a preferred vendor for the Super Bowl XLIII Business Connect program which was a definite highlight for Paige...
Prior to starting Food with Purpose, Paige worked as a non-profit fundraiser and event planner in Washington, DC, New Orleans, and Atlanta. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English and Spanish from University of Vermont and a Master of Education from The American University. On weekends, Paige can be found exploring farmers markets, ethnic restaurants, festivals, and spending time hiking with her family and dog, Ty. She’s one of those people who has never met a stranger and would love to connect – especially if she can help you deliver a memorable food truck event. Feel free to contact Paige at firstname.lastname@example.org or (678) 480-6401.