A food park in historic downtown Ruston offers customers a trendy, outdoor dining option.
Heard Freighthouse Food Park, located at 93 E. Railroad Ave., features savory and locally-produced recipes from three food trucks.
The park is located adjacent to its namesake, the Charles Raymond Heard Wholesale Grocery Distribution Warehouse, which was once used to store groceries for a Ruston-based wholesale grocery distributor. The city bought the property in 2015 with the intentions of tearing it down to build a parking lot, but Mayor Ronny Walker saw potential for the location to be a food hall in the style of the St. Roch Market in New Orleans.
The opportunity was perfect for Louisiana Tech alumnus Desi Bourgeois, who decided to return to Ruston after working as an executive chef for Google in Austin, Texas. Bourgeois said he and his wife, Dianne, saw the growth in Ruston and decided to plant roots in their college town.
“We bought a house thinking, ‘Hey, at some point Ruston’s not a bad place’,” Bourgeois said. “We like that the Farmers’ Market is growing. We see food being produced in the area by local growers and communities. The university and the city are really communicating, and moving the message forward about moving the town together. We’ve a lot of advantageous stuff. We’re seeing people moving back to Ruston. Ruston’s a great place and we saw it moving in a great direction. ”
Walker’s office reached out to Bourgeois about spearheading the project and in January of 2018, Bourgeois opened Grown and Grazedwhich features a farm-to-table outlook.
“Our goal with Grown and Grazed is to make scratch food and use a much local products as we can,” Bourgeois said. “So, the goal was, spending our dollars as much we as we could with local growers or producers so that we could actually fortify our full economy. If I give a dollar to my local farmer, 70 cents in that dollar is going to stay in our market somewhere so that we could have a 1.7 times usage of that dollar. “
Bourgeois said the food park, which spends about 60% to 65% of their dollars with local producers and growers, has received a lot of love from customers who refer other potential customers.
“We get a ton of support and we do as much as we can to support other people,” Bourgeois said. “People are sending people to us. I hear all of the time, ‘Oh, so and so told me to stop by here. You’ve got the best burger. So and so told me you’ve got the best biscuit and gravy “I need to try this out.” Same thing with the sandwiches. We’re getting this word of mouth and it’s coming from the people who come here. ”
Bourgeois said hopes to expand the food park within the next couple of months.
“We’re going to add three more spots to this site,” Bourgeois said. “Actually add three more to the south side and one more to the north side. We’re going to have outdoor stage, more seating. We’re going to do some landscaping.”
Here are the three food trucks currently residing at the park:
Grown and Grazed
Grown and Grazed features a breakfast and lunch menu with products sourced from local farmers in Northeast Louisiana, such as Creekstone Produce in Mer Rouge and Smith Family Farms in Doyline.
The food truck has become a go-to breakfast spot due to its homemade buttermilk biscuits, including options like the strawberry and honey cream biscuits. Bourgeois said another morning favorite is the sweet potato hash. Other breakfast menu items include brown sugar cinnamon scones and their house-made English muffins.
The lunch menu includes hand-crafted burgers such as the bacon jam and cheddar burger. Consisting of beef from Smith Family Farms with bacon jam and white cheddar served on a fresh baked kaiser roll, the burger features Este Farms lettuce and tomatoes, and is served with homemade sweet potato fries.
Grown and Grazed is open Tuesday through Saturday from 7 to 10:30 am for breakfast and 11 am to 2 pm for lunch.
Staple Sandwich Co.
Bourgeois opened his second food truck – Staple Sandwich Co. – in 2021. The truck offers specialty sandwiches that are built on in-house focaccia bread, baked daily and toasted on the panini press.
Popular menu items include the muffaletta, which is served with homemade olive mix, mortadella, ham, salami, mozzarella and provolone. Other menu items are the Italian turkey club, Mediterranean pasta salad, and the cane syrup cookies.
Staple is open 11 am to 6 pm Tuesday through Saturday.
Bad Wolf BBQ
The third food truck in the park is Bad Wolf BBQ, owned by Andrew Caskey. Opened in February of 2019, Bad Wolf BBQ specializes in Texas-style smoked barbecue and side dishes, such as brisket, loaded brisket potatoes, sweet chili brussels sprouts and specialty sausages.
“Hands down, I would say Andrew’s making the best barbecue in north Louisiana,” Bourgeois said. “All his influences, all his friends are all Texas-style barbecue people from Texas.”
It is open 11 am to 3 pm Thursday through Saturday.
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