Sunday, December 10, 2023

Father-son duo open new food truck, selling grilled cheese creations

Sam (left) and Scott Coelln opened their The Hungry Pug food truck Monday. (Andrew Harris/WYDaily)
Sam (left) and Scott Coelln opened The Hungry Pug food truck Monday. (Andrew Harris/WYDaily)

JAMES CITY — James City County’s newest food truck celebrated its soft opening Monday at Billsburg Brewery, giving cheese lovers a reason to celebrate.

The truck, The Hungry Pug, is owned by Scott Coelln, an investor in and former taproom manager of the brewery.

He was also tasked with booking food trucks to provide meals for Billsburg customers. Now, his own food truck can be seen parked in front of the brewery.

“He did so well over there why wouldn’t we give him a chance over here for this?” Billsburg CEO and Master Brewer Dave Baum said.

The Hungry Pug’s menu is framed around its feature ingredient: cheese.

The truck offers a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches, including French onion, Caprese chicken and the “Killer Griller,” a hamburger with grilled cheese sandwiches instead of buns. Lighter fare includes pretzel bread with beer cheese — made with Billsburg’s beer.

Why build a menu around cheese?

The Coellns are a family of pug owners, and their very own pug, Vega, is a huge fan of cheese, they said.

Coelln, 52, and his 22-year-old son Sam work the truck together, and are its only two employees.

One of The Hungry Pug's grilled cheese sandwiches. (Andrew Harris/WYDaily)
One of The Hungry Pug’s grilled cheese sandwiches. (Andrew Harris/WYDaily)

Scott Coelln said his wife, Kate, came up with the original idea for the truck and much of its menu, and he began to believe in it after “seeing the potential out here [at Billsburg], and seeing people just love it out here.”

The Coellns also like to entertain, Scott said, and cheese is always a fixture for their guests.

“Anyone who knows my wife knows there will be cheese at our parties,” he said, adding his wife helped him develop the menu.

Scott Coelln said the truck will one day be his son’s, if he wants it, but for now they are enjoying some quality father-son bonding time.

“Having a family business, teaching him some of the processes about entrepreneurship — which I’m learning as I’m going as well — and working as a team, it’s really rewarding,” Scott Coelln said.

Scott Coelln prepares a meal in his mobile kitchen. (Andrew Harris/WYDaily)
Scott Coelln prepares a meal in his mobile kitchen. (Andrew Harris/WYDaily)

The duo said they’ll be operating five days a week and will be setting up shop at Billsburg and other area breweries.

“In the beginning this’ll be a starting point,” Sam Coelln said. “Definitely down the line when we feel more comfortable we’ll branch out to places down by Norfolk, Hampton,” and the waterfront.

Baum said he’s excited to see a member of the brewery’s family pursue their own passion. Having worked with Coelln, Baum said he knows Coelln’s culinary creations will draw rave reviews.

“I’ve got high hopes. Every day he tried to get us to approve a kitchen on our premises,” Baum said. “The food he brought in was top notch … there was not a night the staff went home hungry.”

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