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TRUCKIN’ THE TRIAD

by Whitney Kenerly

Tipsy’z Tavern takes their signature burgers on the road

| whitney@yesweekly.com | @YesWeekWhitney

“She thought I was crazy.”

When Christine Blair suggested the idea of getting a food truck to Holly Cope, it seemed far-fetched.

Blair and Cope are co-owners of Tipsy’z Tavern and Grill in High Point. For six years it has been a popular watering hole for locals and known for its homestyle burgers and laid back, friendly atmosphere.

The restaurant’s success influenced Blair and Cope to consider expanding into a new venture, but they were concerned about the workload.

“We originally wanted another restaurant, but we didn’t want to be spread too thin,” said Blair.

In their spare time, the co-owners had started to watch different shows about food truck competitions. It occurred to Blair that a food truck would be a way to expand the brand of the restaurant without having to invest in a whole new business. Cope was not on the same page at first.

“She wanted to start a food truck,” said Cope. “I did not.” “She looked at me like I had three heads,” said Blair. Even though the food truck trend was booming across the country and state, there were concerns that it might not catch on in High Point. The co-owners were worried that people wouldn’t understand that the food would still be made to order and that customers would think it was unsanitary.

After looking over the menu for Tipsy’z Tavern, Blair and Cope realized that the concept for their restaurant would translate to a food truck fairly easily.

“We have a large focus on burgers and sandwiches that work well with the truck idea,” said Blair. “They are things you can easily hold in your hand while standing, which is what you’d want.”

Apprehensive about the logistics of driving a big truck around town, the pair got a food truck in Washington, DC, where trucks tend to be smaller due to city ordinances. Then came the fun part of naming and designing their new restaurant on wheels.

Inspired by the Grateful Dead song “Truckin’, Blair and Cope named the food truck “Truckin’with Tipsy’z” and had the outside painted grape-purple with a rainbow of dancing bears. The truck is delightful, whimsical and nostalgic.

An unanticipated benefit of the truck has been all the mobile advertising it brings for the restaurant. The truck has also allowed Blair and Cope to bring Tipsy’z to people in Greensboro and Winston-Salem who might not know about it.

“People in Greensboro get to try us this way,” said Blair. “It has definitely brought us new business.”

The cooking conditions inside of the truck have required some adaptation.

“It’s small in there,” said Cope. “And hot. It gets up to 110 degrees.”

After over a year of operating the food truck, Blair and Cope have gotten the hang of it. They have figured out what can be made on the truck, what needs to be made ahead, and are learning to deal with the fact that sometimes certain supplies will just run out. The menu changes depending on the event, and it has allowed them to try out new recipes. They served a summer salsa recently that was bursting with ripe vegetable flavors.

The black bean burgers have been very popular as well.

The patty is rich and earthy and every bite is savory. This is not some greasy diner burger. Everything down to the salsa on top tastes like it was grown in your former-hippie aunt’s garden. The brioche bun really takes it to the next level of enjoyment.

Just like the burgers the sides are familiar and palatable, but inspired. The pasta salad uses oil and vinegar instead of mayonnaise, and the zest of fresh basil and sundried tomatoes punctuates every bite of perfectly cooked noodles.

Blair and Cope have taken their modified menu on wheels to monthly food truck rodeos, a bachelor party and a High Point Junior League event. People in the Triad are starting to take notice.

“It’s definitely picked up pace,” said Blair. “People are just finding out about it.”

While business has been going smoothly, the same can’t be said for the actual truck. Blair drives the food truck because Cope is unable to reach the pedals, and both admit that the jostling older truck can be rather bumpy.

Demand for the food truck has kept Blair and Cope out on the road. The two have learned to juggle the responsibility of running two restaurants at once, knowing that things can get hectic.

“It’s been a crazy ride,” said Blair. “Literally.” !

WANNA go?

Tipsy’z Taven and Grill is located at 805 Westchester Drive in High Point. You can reach Truckin’ with Tipsy’z at (336) 491-9065 for more information about booking the food truck for events.

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