Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Topeka Food Truck Popping Up in Northeast Kansas

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Topeka Food Truck Popping Up in Northeast Kansas

Article excerpt

Standing inside a bright red Poppin Squeeze trailer, Richard Fergison laughed as he thought about how he got into the food truck business.

He had a few plans to operate a food truck when a grandson wanted to make extra money. He bought a small hot dog cart and started serving biscuits and gravy along with hot dogs at Topeka farmers markets.

That was six years ago, and Fergison's culinary ambitions have grown to include a medley of multi-flavored kettle corn and lemonade. Last week he purchased the bright red trailer for several thousand dollars.

"I keep asking him, 'Did you ever think it would be like this?'" longtime co-worker and general manager Aaron Parrish said as Fergison shook his head.

The answer is "no." Fergison now plans to retire from Goodyear within a year so he can devote more time to the food truck.

He operates it with his wife, Sharon, alongside Parrish and his girlfriend Lauren Bergman.

"I like all the people," he said. "Not just the customers but all the different vendors we meet."

This weekend, weather permitting, the group will bring a taste of Topeka for a second time to the Ice Cream Cruise, a large car show outside Omaha, Iowa.

Usually the truck, or one of the several tents they run, can be seen at events across northeast Kansas. Next weekend they will be at four events, including one in Lawrence and two in Topeka.

Poppin Squeeze has seen a boom in the last year or two, Fergison said, fueled by a rise in popularity of food trucks and Visit Topeka's Capitol City Food Truck Festival in Gage Park.

"That's when people really started to notice us," Parrish said.

When they started with the hot dog tent, Fergison said a $200 profit for four hours was common. Now if they don't make $800 in the same time, it is considered an off-day. The biggest factor is the weather.

"We generally know what an event will bring and plan ahead," Parrish said. "Sometimes though, you can go somewhere and it'll be a bust. …

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