Naan Stop looks to build food truck culture in Flint

FLINT, Michigan — Jon Hardman has always dreamed of having his own food truck, so when he had the opportunity to purchase a kitchen trailer in July, he didn’t pass it up.

“I’ve thought about starting food trucks for two or three years,” said Hardman, who was a founder at Flint’s Factory Two Makerspace before venturing into the food truck business. “The timing was right now, so I just went into it.”

Hardman didn’t set out with a specific cuisine in mind -- earlier this summer, he experimented with a “tornado potatoes” menu. But, after working with Nikhil Mukkamala to put together a menu, settled on Indian cuisine, and Naan Stop was born. Items on the menu include butter chicken, tandoria kabobs and tacos, aloo gobi, chana masala, potato samosas, and (of course) naan. 

“I wasn’t married to any sort of menu or type of food,” Hardman said. “I just wanted something that was digestible, walkable, and friendly to everyone — with a price point that is low. We kept it simple and got it going.”

Mukkamala, a second-year biomedical engineering student at the University of Michigan and a Flint native, shared recipes and traditions from grandparents and extended family to help develop a menu. 

“The menu is kind of a bridge between authentic Indian food and street food culture,” Mukkamala said.

Naan Stop has been parked at several events over the summer, including the Crim Festival of Races, Back to the Bricks, Mott Community College’s Welcome Week, and Flint Art Walk. The number of festivals, attractions, and new businesses in downtown Flint make it a perfect spot for food trucks, Hardman said.

“People used to just come to Flint for an event like the Crim or Back to the Bricks and then leave,” Mukkamala said. “Now it’s a different city, different atmosphere. People are going downtown more. It’s a total transformation.”

Hardman noted that a lot of Naan Stop’s business so far has been repeat customers who were happy with the food and prices. Menu items top out at $8.

“It’s been great,” Hardman said. “After our first day, a lot of the downtown business people were back the next day, so we’ve had a lot of repeat business.”

Naan Stop’s hours are announced on their Facebook and Instagram pages. Hardman also has a vision for expanding Flint’s food truck culture. He owns a building and parking lot at the corner of Court and Stevens streets downtown and plans to partner with another food trailer in the future to do a food court there. He also plans to renovate the building to make it into a “food hall” style dining area, with small kitchens available to rent.

“I’m just trying to do something cool and make the food truck scene happen in Flint,” he said. “I’m not some chef or connoisseur, but I know good food and can make it, so let’s get a new menu in town.”

 

Read more articles by Patrick Hayes.

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