FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — When Dawn Hall and her late husband, Terry, first came up with the idea of a health food truck, they always hoped one day to turn it into a fixed store.
Now, that dream is coming true because Happy Belly Kitchen plans to open later this month at
Vickery Village, 5863 South Vickery St.
The business gained recognition when it opened its food truck, Happy Belly Curbside Kitchen, in April 2012, often venturing to events around Metro Atlanta. Between the two of them, they have more than 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry.
“I feel as though we did it the right way,” Hall said. “When you open a restaurant first, you’re stationary and have to have people come to you. With a food truck, we’ve been mobile and were able to go all over. We’ve been able to reach so many people, develop a good brand and following. Why not do the next step and open up a restaurant?”
The idea for the truck came when the couple grew frustrated trying to find healthy options when going out to eat. At the time, food trucks were not as popular as they are now, so the couple decided to fill the gap they saw.
“I’m our target demographic because I’m a mom in her early 40s,” Hall said. “I care about what I eat and what I feed my children. Clean eating is a lifestyle now that you can’t get anywhere.”
The first year was busy. They had to turn down events because they were fully booked.
But then in August of 2013, Terry was diagnosed with cancer on the day their second child was born. He fought for six months, but passed away in February of 2014.
Before Terry died, Dawn said he asked her to continue their venture for three more years before throwing in the towel.
And now, three years later, she’s persevering with their dream to open the brick and mortar store.
It will have a farmhouse feel to it, from the decorations and laid back atmosphere, Hall said. She bought board games and a tether ball so families can play with each other rather than be on their electronic devices.
Many of the other restaurants in Vickery Village are table service, and as a single mother of two, Hall said she knows how hard it can be to take children to a restaurant and get them to sit still during the meal.
“[Sit down restaurants] take a while,” Hall said. “We don’t always have time to do that, especially with everyone being so busy these days.”
Customers can order the same food from the food truck menu, with more options added, including salads, burgers and Brussels sprouts.
“We have our staple menu with items that are great that we won’t change,” Hall said. “We just hired a chef from Michigan who has a culinary background. She’s young and passionate. I’m excited for her to add some new things.”
Additionally, there will be a grab-and-go section for families or anyone passing by to come in, choose a food item and take it with them for a quick snack or meal.
As often as they can, the restaurant will try to source out food from local farms, Hall said.
“It’ll be very laid back and family oriented,” Hall said. “If people only have 10 to 15 minutes to eat, they can do that. But if they want to hang out with us for a while, they can do that, too.”
Once the store opens, the food truck will only do private catering events. But Hall said she’s happy to be closer to her family in Cumming, and not have to drive around the state as much.
“I’m looking forward to developing relationships with our customers,” Hall said. “We’ve had so much support and I can’t wait to grow it more.”
To learn about Happy Belly, visit happybellytruck.com.