Late at night, a loud buzz fills Bowman Park. Between the crowds of people, a large white food truck sits on Locust Street. Between the chaos of orders being made and taken, Jon Parker greets the next student with a smile.
As a co-founder of the Wally’s Barbecue food truck, Parker loves what he does. After years of experience, Parker is no stranger to the food industry.
“I began my career in the food service industry 12 years ago,” Parker said, “I started at Moore’s Bar and created Moore's Monday. Then I moved to Australia and bartended at a Sheraton resort then came back to the States and worked in Indianapolis and multiple other bars.”
During his years working at local and far-off restaurants, Parker bartended with one of his best friends, James Stewart. After years of working at Boulder Run, now known as The Whisk, the two decided to try their own luck.
“We're two close friends who came to a crossroads in both of our career paths and chose to buy a food trailer,” Parker said, “We searched for months and finally found a trailer in our budget and with the equipment that we needed. With no menu in mind, we started doing hot dogs and fries.”
After a few days, however, the two decided it was time to change the menu. With inspiration from his work, the food truck turned toward a barbecue.
“I was at the time managing Olde Union BBQ, so I began buying mac and cheese and also pulled pork off of the restaurant. We had the ‘birth’ of the mac bowl which is still a staple on the menu,” Parker said.
Unexpectedly, James and Parker were able to build a brick and mortar restaurant. With a solid foundation, the restaurant is far from complete.
“Future plans for Wally’s include a beer garden on the backside of the restaurant facing US-231, an upstairs private dining area available for rent, and a balcony overlooking the beer garden,” Parker said.
In addition to their barbecue, they take pride in the connection between Wally’s Barbecue and the local community.
“We have recently acquired a contract with Greencastle High School to manage all their concession stands. We are excited to continue our adventure here in Greencastle and work to bridge the gap between Greencastle and Depauw,” Parker said.
Providing a safe and fun environment for DePauw and Greencastle inhabitants is very important to Parker and James. For them, the connection between their restaurant and the community is integral.
“We call it ‘Communiversity,’ which may be cheesy, but we do hope to create a lasting bond,” Parker said.
First-year Raiden Miyamoto stumbled upon the food truck on the way back to the dorms one night. In the nick of time, Miyamoto decided to stop by with some friends to try out the barbecue.
“I have to say that I’m glad we did. The food was great. I got the barbecue nachos which were incredible and after a long night were just what I needed,” Miyamoto said.
Miyamoto plans to check out the restaurant properly in the near future. With such a great experience, Miyamoto says he will be first in line if the food truck comes back around.
First-year Grant Forrer was alongside Miyamoto when they stumbled upon the food truck. Just like Miyamoto, the experience was worth the stop for Forrer.
“My personal experience with Wally's Food Truck was out of this world. The food was absolutely delicious and the barbecue left a great, smoky aftertaste in my mouth,” Forrer said.
While eating, Forrer even got the chance to talk to the owner. Forrer mentioned how friendly he was and how it brought the whole experience together. Like Miyamoto, Forrer hopes to eat at the local restaurant soon.
“As a connoisseur of good barbecue, I would rate Wally's as a solid 8.75/10. While the barbecue sauce and meat itself were phenomenal, I personally like a hotter sauce. Now, I am not going to hold that against them as I have been told that they have more sauce inside the restaurant itself,” Forrer said.
Forrer personally recommends the smoked pulled pork nachos. He strongly suggests that other people check out the food truck and restaurant.
“Wally's is a great place to go for some barbecue and to meet some nice people!” Forrer said.
Wally’s Barbecue is open Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m.