DISHING UP INNOVATION
(Tenth in a series. The pandemic has been a challenge for Republic county restaurants. Many found innovative ways to serve and support the community they call home. Over the next few weeks, the Telescope will take a closer look at local restaurants and how they have persevered.)
By Laura Leite Telescope News
Christy (Kissy) Beeson wanted to own a food truck for 10 years, but she kept putting it off because of all the things that happen in life.
“But bad things happen, my dad died unexpectedly, and we had to sell the family farm,” said Kissy. “We moved my mom from Rawlins County to live with us. One day about six months after my dad died, my mom said, ‘The one thing that I know is that life is short and if you want to do something, sometimes you just have to do it.’
“The next day, I was in a car accident,” said Kissy. “I broke my neck in two places, my back in three, I broke four ribs off my spine, and I broke my right shoulder.
“Seven to eight months after my accident I could not step into a trailer or off of my porch, but I could get into my pick-up, so I went and bought a trailer and came home and told my husband, Kevin Beeson, that I had bought my food truck. He said ‘No, you’re not going to have a food truck because you can’t even take a shower by yourself.’
“In six weeks, I had (the food truck) built, and in 10 weeks, I was able to walk in and out of the trailer by myself.
“In 18 weeks, we opened.” 2021 marks the fourth season for the business.
“At first, Kevin just watched from the sidelines because he is a carpenter, other than being a born and bred carnivore, he didn’t have any experience in the food industry,” said Kissy. “He was really nervous, but two months later, he decided that he was either going to just jump into the fire or stay completely out. He decided to leave his steady job at Hometown Lumber and jump into the fire.”
“It is a lot of fun to work with your spouse, even when it isn’t,” said Kissy. “The first year was crazy because we didn’t know what we were doing and we just hoped to book nine events, but we booked 37. The next year we booked 89, we booked 130 the next year and this year we have 360 dates booked.”
“When the season starts, it is seven days a week and 18- hour days just to serve lunch. We smoke everything the day before and we make everything on-site from scratch and it takes time,” said Kissy. “We work a lot, and, in the winter, we devote our time to catering. Last winter the sale barn (Belleville 81 Livestock Sales) called us to serve because they no longer had someone to run the restaurant.
“We feel that it is important to serve meals at the sale barn, because the auction averages a million dollar in sales every week and to keep the sellers and buyers coming to an auction house, it is important to have meals available on-site.”
“We feel that our food truck provides a service that a brick and mortar couldn’t to the people of North Central Kansas and South-Central Nebraska,” said Kissy. “We are in a food desert here and convenience is in short supply because people here are busy. Families take care of farms, children, host parties, etc. and they sometimes need help and something more convenient than driving 30 miles, so if we can come into someone’s hometown even just occasionally, we are happy to be of service.
“Our goal is to serve areas that are too small to sustain a full-time restaurant but the people there work hard and are hungry and would enjoy convenient food from time to time. I grew up on the farm and understand how you can be so busy that you don’t have time to fix a meal,” said Kissy.
“My dad absolutely loved food trucks and would stop on a dime and turn around to go to a food truck. Every year we went to Denver to look for different food trucks to eat at. It was a food pilgrimage. The sandwiches that we make are ones that I made with my dad in the winter,” said Kissy.
“The connection to my dad and his love of food are one of the things that make our food truck important,” said Kissy. “Also, my dad loved to travel, and he liked to go to Mexico and Belize, he loved palm trees, cockatiels and anything tropical. He always said he just wanted to travel to paradise, but once he became ill, he couldn’t travel.
“But said that it didn’t matter because paradise is where you are – that is where the name of my food truck came from,” said Kissy. “It’s for him.”
“My dad was a farmer and loved the people that farm and the community,” said Kissy. “To us it is a privilege to serve the farmers and farm community.”
Even though Paradise Eats is a food truck that travels to several surrounding counties, they have made sure that all their tax dollars come back to Republic County.
“To do this, we pay all the tax on everything up front when we purchase it, so there are no taxes on the customer,” said Kissy. “We purchase our supplies in Republic County by buying local or it is delivered to us in Republic County. It is important that our tax dollars are helping our community.”
“The best part of working in this industry is seeing the look on someone’s face when they bite into something that is good and the quiet of a table of people enjoying their food,” said Kissy.
“I enjoy meeting all of the people and serving them,” said Kevin. “Running a food truck is also an adventure, you never know with the weather and location what you are going to encounter.”
“After COVID, we lost every single event, 97 cancellations,” said Kissy. “So, we spent a month fixing up a rental property that we had purchased and trying to figure out what was going to go on. We waited it out about 45 days and then started the lunch truck up but could only serve within a 60-mile area on highway 36 to avoid the travel advisory quarantine. The days were slower, so we had a few suppers in Belleville.”
“We made it through COVID because the community rallied behind us and helped us to survive,” said Kissy. “We did make sure that everything was clean and sanitized plus we only went from work to home so that we wouldn’t need to be quarantined.”
“As long as people want to eat, we’ll keep cooking,” said Kissy. “We have been beyond blessed.”
Dishing Up Innovation Series
Part 1 – Los Primos
Part 2 – Pinky’s Bar & Grill
Part 3 – Conger’s Czech Cafe
Part 4 – T.A.G.’s
Part 5 – Bel-Villa
Part 6 – Rip City Inn
Part 7 – Wood Shop Pizza
Part 8 – Dairy Queen
Part 9 – AnTeaQues
Part 10 – Paradise Eats