You can find chef Mally Racks’ garlic crabs at T-Mobile’s North Charleston office building. But not every day. And not at the same time, either, says owner Ben Flowers (aka Mally Racks) — there’s no set schedule for when the fire-engine-red truck will roll up with Flowers’ addictive seasoned crustaceans. That’s because Flowers doesn’t need to set a time. He posts his food truck schedule on Facebook and Instagram and within the hour, customers are lined up. Within a few hours, he’s sold out.
Flowers has built up his fan base since April 2017. He started hawking his crabs out of his car before upgrading to the truck. He says he’s grateful that a huge corporation like T-Mobile has let him park in their lot, “It started as a one time thing then led to a permanent thing.” Flowers credits the “power of the brand” he built from scratch for his staying power. Now, after almost three years, Flowers is ready to park his truck on his own property.
The Square on Meeting is set to be the area’s newest food truck park/village/rodeo. Located in the “heart of North Charleston” in an empty lot at the corner of Meeting and Dorchester, the square will be run by Flowers.
“It’s going to be a hub for the culinary scene,” says Flowers. “I wanted to create a platform for other food trucks and vendors — I remember how hard it was in the beginning for me to find locations daily.”
Flowers plans to emulate concepts like Meeting Street Eats with bistro lights and a concrete platform for dining. He also wants to have a stage for live music, a sound system, and a two-story shipping container with a rooftop, a space where food truck patrons can actually hang out. “It will be a cool amenity for North Charleston,” he says. “It’s a block away from Restaurant Depot, it’s a route all the food trucks already use and are familiar with — if you run out of supplies there’s a major wholesale supplier right there.”
With plenty of car traffic nearby, the busy location seems prime for a flock of food trucks, and it’s only a few minutes from downtown and a couple blocks from I-26. Flowers hopes that once he has a number of trucks on board, the customer base will build organically, “people will want to see what’s going on.” Flowers thinks it will be appealing for tourists, too.
He says he’s going to offer the taste of Charleston in one spot — seafood and soul food and breakfast.
“I want to get a lot of the major people who you think of around Charleston — Bertha’s and Martha Lou and maybe do a ‘soul food Sunday,'” he says.
You will be able to snag your garlic crabs and jumbo shrimp from the vacant lot at 3517 Meeting Street Road starting next month. Flowers says he’ll set up shop first, laying the groundwork for other trucks to follow. Racks’ garlic crabs will also be available at this month’s Food Truck Rodeo — Flowers hopes he can use the event to spread the word about his new project.
“I know a lot of trucks would love a permanent space,” he says. “Especially people who have built a following, they can build off of that. We’ll have a centralized location with an actual address with set hours of operation that we will commit to.” No more stalking Flowers’ Instagram, garlic crab devotees.
“I went from asking permission to be on someone else’s property, and now I’m transitioning into my own lot,” says Flowers. “Now they have to ask me.”
Trucks interested in joining the square can email firstname.lastname@example.org.