Hannah and Hunter Bell decided to embark on a culinary journey last January before COVID-19 started appearing all over the U.S. They both had histories of working in restaurants in Starkville, Mississippi, where their own business, the Mom and Pop food truck, recently received an award for Best Food Truck.
The couple stepped out and started the business as a delivery service at first, as an adaptation to the curveball that was COVID-19. They delivered casseroles and things of that nature.
"We took our truck and we didn't open as a food truck at all," Hunter Bell said. "We used it solely as a delivery truck. We did home deliveries with casseroles and things like that for the first two to three months, I would say, just because nobody was really getting out because of the pandemic."
With the start of their business, Hannah Bell said they had trouble getting extra help besides just herself and her husband working the truck. They have a young son and wanted to be able to ensure they were able to spend time with him. One of their earliest hires, Abby Edwards, was with them throughout the casserole delivery-era of the truck and is still with them now.
Edwards has worked in restaurants for 14 years, but this has been her first experience with a food truck. She came to know about their business through close friends and was looking to work part-time, due to having a young child herself.
"They've done really well with the challenges that come along with starting a new business," Edwards said. "I really enjoy working with them. They're really sweet people."
In the spring of 2020, the truck started out with Hunter Bell working as the main chef and menu designer. His wife handled the social media and business side of things. Starkville Daily News named their business, "Best Food Truck" in their best of 2021 awards.
They are more than just a food truck now, with the opening of their storefront downtown on South Washington Street.
"We opened our store right around Valentine's Day," Hannah said. "Ideally, what we would like is for the store to be open daily for breakfast and lunch, but right now we're just kind of operating between the truck and here until we can get more into the rhythm of it."
The truck is starting to get rented out more and more for local events, fundraisers and weddings. Hannah said this is a potential precursor for the store being the main thing open during the week, with the truck still being out some, but mostly for bookings for events.
One way the Bells' business has gained success in their local area is through the support of other small businesses in the community. Hannah Bell reached out to Mary Dowell, who owns another small business in Starkville called Petal Row. Hannah asked if the truck could feature some of their flowers to share publicity in the community.
"I really appreciate the fact that as a local business, they want to support other local businesses and invest so much in the community," Dowell said.
Although they have not always received the warmest welcomes from every business in the area, they have been highly supported by some like Petal Row and Twigs Nursery and Landscaping. Starkville is home to many small businesses like the one started by this young couple.
"Our community really seems to desire having successful small businesses in our town," Dowell said.
Hannah and Hunter Bell's food truck can be seen around Starkville, Mississippi, and other towns nearby. They post a weekly schedule on their Instagram account, @mom_andpop, which tells where the truck will be each day, as well as the storefront hours available throughout the week.