Years before Pensacola residents found a favorite food truck for every night of the week, there were a few daring restaurateurs testing the waters, fighting for a spot in Pensacola’s lunch crowd.
Pensacola lost one of the founding fathers of the food truck this month when Two Birds Street Food announced on social media that it would shut down on January 19.
After six years in Pensacola and 26 years in the restaurant industry, Eric Pommerening, owner of Two Birds Street Food, told the News Journal that what he wants more than anything right now is more time.
“I’ve come to a point where I’m like – my kids aren’t getting younger anymore. So it’s time for me to spend some time with my family.”
Goodbye to East Hill Market’s meatballsEast Hill Market has closed permanently after 12 years of Papa Tony’s famous meatballs.
Garden gets delicious new tenantGarden has a sweet new tenant heading to downtown Pensacola. Find out who’s coming.
However, after serving Pensacola for six years and creating more than 500 menus, Pommerening left behind a legacy as a pioneer that paved the way for what is now Pensacola’s thriving food truck community.
“As for what the food truck scene looked like (six years ago), I’m sure there have been people with food trucks open for a long time – at least long before I opened them. I feel – and then I was in. It was just some kind of setup.
People weren’t initially thrilled by the idea of food trailers popping up around City Hall and other downtown landmarks, but eventually the upbeat restaurateurs piqued their curiosity and earned their trust.
“I think a lot of people thought we were trying to steal the restaurant business,” Pommerening said. “I just think it’s a different mindset now. It’s kind of made eye-catching.”
Now, searching for unique food trucks is a favorite hobby and past tense.
“There were people who definitely saw my place as a destination,” Pommerening said.
Even the name of his truck, in bloom, inspired by the two birds his son had drawn on a piece of paper, indicated that he had the freedom to do whatever he wanted in his job. Even and especially if it was stupid.
“I laughed at this and it got stuck in the back of my head,” he said. “I called a group of my chef friends and walked past them and said, ‘Sounds like a pretty powerful name. You’re not cornered by what kind of food you can make, and it’s unique. People will remember that.”
Pommerening has continually pushed the limits when it comes to new menu creations, even in the confined space where it was closed. Known for changing the menu order frequently, he never tied himself to certain items or even to a particular type of food. In his own words, it was the “Two Birds return” that set the food truck apart, even as its competition caught up to it.
When visiting your truck, customers can always count on one thing: a sense of surprise. Ahi poke bombs, grilled kim-cheese, blackened Amberjack reuben, bacon chicken flatbread, and pork belly sichuan Dan Dan noodles were all original dishes on Pommerening’s list of all-time favourites.
Longtime customer Matt Smith said he remembers when he worked near downtown and when he first saw Two Birds appear. After trying it for the first time, it was a routine stop and the start of the long-awaited weekend.
“He (Pommerening) was making things I had never tried or tasted before. The different combinations, the ingredients were top notch. I hate mayonnaise and eat his,” Smith said. “It pushed me to try new things and I would save some money every week and on Fridays I would reward myself and go there and see what new (items) he had.”
Pommerening credits her fight against the mundane for keeping her truck afloat all these years while juggling being both the chief executive and sole owner/operator of the business. He predicts that if he hadn’t stirred it so much, it would have burned much sooner.
But above all, he enjoyed the opportunity to bring unique dining experiences that ordinary people in Pensacola could consistently enjoy.
“As Anthony Bourdain said: street food is the last type of real, unpretentious food,” Pommerening said. “It’s one of those things about trying to get everyone affordable, delicious food, food that some people would never think to eat.”
More information can be found on the Two Birds Street Food Facebook page.