Local food trucks work to endure the pandemic

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Various food trucks around Clark County are thriving in the pandemic as they continue to provide food to their patrons in a socially distanced fashion.

Lynnae Oxley, the owner of Sugars Barbecue in Ridgefield, said food trucks have had an advantage during the pandemic, since they feature a “100% to-go model” with no dining room. Since the interaction between the staff and customers takes place through a window, it creates a safer separation to prevent any transmission, Oxley said. 

Oxley opened the food truck in 2006.

“My food truck was a springboard from a catering business I already had since 2010,” said Oxley. “I teach barbecuing classes in Battle Ground and I also have a retail product line of rubs and sauces that are all over the Pacific Northwest, which is cool. I wanted to have a food truck for a long time. It was just a matter of timing and finding the actual trailer, so the planets aligned and I was able to get set up here in Ridgefield and it’s awesome.”

Oxley is a chef who has cooked professionally since she was 16 years old, but she wasn’t introduced to barbecue until 2006 when one of her neighbors had a smoker. She originally started Sugars Barbecue as a competitive barbecue team and the team won a plethora of awards. They racked up 10 grand champion titles. She’s competed across the country, winning first and second place on the east coast, in the midwest and in Canada. Oxley has also been featured on BBQ Pitmasters for two seasons and was a champion on Chopped.

“I was doing really well in competition barbecuing and did really well, and it became more of a business when people started hiring me for their birthday parties or catering, so that’s how it got to where I am now,” she said.

Oxley said her customers are amazing and have welcomed her and her crew with open arms.

“I want to have amazing customer service, and equal to that, I want to have amazing food. No shortcuts, it’s all scratch-made, these are hardwood-smoked meats and freshly-made side dishes,” she said.

A menu item Oxley highlights are the truck’s rodeo fries, which include crinkle-cut fries with 100% GMO-free rice bran oil, a homemade queso sauce and a choice of meat. It is topped with Sugars’ candied barbecue sauce. Vegetarians can enjoy the food without the serving of meat.

In the future, Oxley hopes to expand to a second food truck as long as she can handle the workload and can provide the same level of quality to customers.

As for Taqueria Los Toritos in Battle Ground, the food truck was started by Ricardo Lara and his wife, Maria, seven years ago. Lara said his wife worked on food trucks for many years and eventually the couple decided to start their own.

Although business has gone smoothly during the pandemic, Lara said it’s been difficult to obtain products.

“Meats are very expensive and supplies are really hard to get right now,” said Lara. “Staffing is hard to find, but we’re trying to keep up and doing what we can.”

Lara was born in California but raised in Mexico, and has lived in Battle Ground since 1997.

The couple enjoys their customers as well.

“They really like the food because they’re always around,” Lara joked. “There are a lot of really nice people in Battle Ground.”

He said one of the best things on the menu is their super burrito, which comes with a choice of meat, rice, beans, cilantro, onions, hot sauce, lettuce and cheese. Then there’s the fajita burrito, which is almost as big as the super burrito, but cooked with bell peppers, onions and a choice of meat. Lara noted that many of their recipes come from Maria and her family.

Sugars Barbecue can be found at 219 Pioneer St., Ridgefield, and Taqueria Los Toritos is located near 106 East Main St., Battle Ground.

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