Published on November 1st, 2021 | by TLV News0
Chick in the Box Serves Hand-battered Fried Chicken on Ole Miss Campus
Teresa Adams opened Chick in the Box food truck this fall
After serving for fifteen years as director of The Leap Frog Program, a nonprofit literacy program in Oxford, Mississippi, Teresa Adams pivoted to open Chick in the Box, a new food truck at the University of Mississippi. The truck parks at the corner of Rebel Drive and Dormitory Row, next to Wiggly’s Taco Truck and Hot Box Hibachi. We sat down with Teresa to get the scoop on the burgeoning food truck scene on campus.
TLV: What was your inspiration for making such a drastic career shift?
Teresa: Usually nonprofit directors [last] three to five years, so fifteen was max. I was ready for a new adventure, and my kids were older, you know? I worked in restaurants all through high school and college, and I really enjoyed that fast-paced, crazy, chaotic environment. I love the craziness and the chaos. That was my favorite part at Leap Frog was when the kids would get there and the volunteers would get there, and it would be like, “I need this! She needs that! Go over here!” It’s like football Saturday, you know? “Yes, yes, okay, here! Why is your nose bleeding? Get over there! Stop touching him.” I’m ADD. I can’t sit still.
Why a food truck?
One of my husband’s best friends from college, James Dimaculangan, has several food trucks at Auburn. Last year because of COVID, he shut the Chick in the Box one down and just ran a Hibachi one because he was by himself. He has been running food trucks at Auburn for eight years, and within the last year [he asked], “Would you ever wanna do this?” Because he wanted to expand and see how it would work [on] other campuses. He knew that I’d worked in restaurants and that I could handle it. So finally, in the spring, we started getting serious and talking to Ole Miss, but we didn’t get the green light from Ole Miss until the end of June.
Chick in the Box, Wiggly’s, and Hot Box Hibachi share this corner. Are these the first food trucks on campus?
Blenz Bowls is here, it’s a smoothie truck. They were here last year. That was it.
Did you have to jump through a bunch of hoops to get on campus?
Fortunately, when I contacted Aramark, which is who we’re working through, my contact said, “Oh, we’ve been wanting to do this. We’ve been trying to do this on our campus.” So it was also a dream she wanted to make happen. So I kind of contacted her at the right time.
We got the final go-ahead in late June, then they got these other guys on board, so it made for kind of a pit stop. Thank God, these guys have been doing it for a while, and they’re super nice, so I can go to them when I’m having trouble with anything. We’re hoping to be here for a while, hopefully for years.
How has the reception been so far?
This is a pretty busy spot because of the library, and the Union is right over there. But still, the second week, people would still walk by and say, “We have food trucks here?” It’s a huge campus, so unless you have class over here, you’d never see it.
What are your hours, and will you be open on game weekends?
We’re open 10 am – 4 pm, Monday through Friday. We have to move the trucks off campus for football game Saturdays because of foot traffic. They just want us here during the week as another option for food.
Do you cater off-campus?
I don’t right now. The catch is that I have a 50 amp power cord that I have to run power to. Otherwise it’s a lot of extension cords, and that’s no good. So I’m not doing that yet because this is literally my third week in this business doing this truck, so twelve or thirteen hour days are normal.
The food is all handmade, correct?
Yes. We have homemade chicken salad, we hand-batter the chicken tenders and fry them to order, and then we have French fries and waffles that we make to order.
You have chicken and waffles? Stop it.
What is your favorite aspect of this so far?
My favorite is being able to be social because I am very extroverted. Last year being home with three other people—that’s it—all day long, every day, was not good for my mental health. I am very social. I want to talk to people. Getting to be on the truck and meeting my college kids, and working in a diverse set of people is fun to me. And I enjoy the fast pace of it, too.
What has been the most difficult?
The steep learning curve to start, because I’ve never done this before. It’s very different than being in a restaurant because you’re on the go constantly. You know? You don’t have an ice maker or [you realize] “Oh, I need more water.” I don’t have a cooler to go grab stuff from.
There’s no walk-in to go cry in…
No! There is not! But every day, I think, well, this happened, but that’s another lesson I learned. Check.
What are your hopes for the future?
To get busier, of course. Everyone wants more business. And I’m hoping that Aramark renews our contract semester-to-semester so we can stay here. Because it’s a really nice situation to be on campus.
Are you guys on Starship?
We are. Those little bots are hilarious!